Corpses. A sea of corpses. The smell of death was unmistakable. Its pungent odor snaked around corridors and made its way to the basement, where we stood in line to go up to the anatomy lab for the first time. My heart was racing. All along the walls were jars of human remains—brains, fetuses, organs. As we made our way through the anatomy library and finally came up to the second floor, ...

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Calling. I am awakened by the loud, screeching sound of my pager. I feel my heart race. I look at the clock. It is 3:07 a.m. It’s cold in the room. I am shivering. I stand up quickly, instinctively. I feel the soreness of my feet for a brief moment, but push that thought aside and look quickly at my pager. It reads, “room 2309, death pronouncement”. My heart sinks. She is mine—my ...

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“There will always be suffering. It flows through life like water ...” Those famous lyrics sung by Nick Cave in his Lime-Tree Arbour ring true for many of us. They take on an entirely different layer of meaning for physicians. Even the very journey of becoming a physician is marked by suffering. While many of our classmates frequented football games, nightclubs, and social events, most of us were studying day and night ...

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I remember climbing into my mother’s office chair and pretending to be the doctor. I was six years old then, wearing her oversized white coat with its sleeves hanging over my small hands. She was a practicing physician in a time period that no longer exists — communist Armenia. This was a time when physicians made about the same salary as factory workers — a time when university education and ...

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My last patient of the day was an elderly woman with metastatic lung cancer, a non-smoker who had been battling this terrible disease for more than a year. I was running thirty minutes behind. I had a packed afternoon with difficult cases and patients who required more of my time and care. I peeked into her room, said hello and apologized for running late. Ms. B.  greeted me with her ...

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