Amidst the tangle of mail consisting of grocery ads and a retirement fund quarterly report and the membership renewal form for the botanical gardens, I spot a small manilla envelope emblazoned with the return address of my children’s school. This is what I have been waiting for with equal parts hope and dread. Last year was supposed to be the beginning of a new era for me — the year that ...

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With a flip of a calendar page, the new academic year is upon us. For much of the workforce, July 1st signifies the halfway point of the fiscal year, and most Americans would say that each new year starts on January 1st. However, those of us in academia, particularly those of us in medical and graduate medical education, understand how significant this day is. It is the day when newly-minted ...

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Sunlight creeps through the living room blinds. We have taken to sleeping here now on the giant sectional sofa. Most days, there is no reason to set an alarm. The dog stirs, moves from where he was nestled against one child to stretch out alongside another. My son rolls over, clutching the impulsively purchased Sunday Citizen throw around his bony frame. He is wearing his quarantine uniform - buffalo plaid flannel ...

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has slowly but surely made its way to Middle America, stowing away on well-meaning citizens who have traveled to the coasts or overseas for one reason or another. It has sneakily hitchhiked its way into Creighton University basketball games, pub crawls, and several area Walmarts. A few patients have been seriously ill, but the majority of the physical, intellectual, and emotional time, effort, and energy spent in ...

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"I dreamed a dream my life would be ... so different from this hell I'm living." Twenty years ago, I would pull out my Les Miserables piano book and pound out "I Dreamed a Dream" while my fellow medical student/roommate would sing along with me to the line above with gusto. In the scheme of things, we didn't have it so bad. We hadn't been abandoned by our lover-baby daddies. We weren't ...

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It’s been liberating and eye-opening and sometimes a pain to have all three of my kids in grade school. The benefits of one drop off and not paying for daycare do outweigh the downside of figuring out what to do with the kids when they have days off. Usually, I plan my schedule accordingly, but I still have to fit in the requisite number of shifts for my ...

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“S as in Sam, I, E, C as in Charlie, Z as in zebra, K, O, W, S as in Sam, K, I.” “A, O, W?” “No. K, as in kite. K, O, W.” “Is that your married name?” “Nope. This is my maiden name. I kept it.” “What is that? Polish?” “Yes. Yes, it is.” “Wow! I definitely wouldn’t have gotten that one right!” Chuckle. Sigh. Then move on to my next task knowing that this interaction ...

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To my residency class: The clock is ticking, its hands spinning around its face faster and faster until I feel dizzy and disoriented. The remainder of the academic year can be measured in days, even hours for some. The carousel is slowing down to let some off, some on. Some, like me, will remain in the saddles of their brightly painted ponies. The cheerful calliope melody becomes distorted with the change ...

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I have been a medical doctor for 19 years, a pediatrician for 16 years and a mom for 11 years. Being a mom is — hands down — the hardest but also enhances my work as a physician (though I would not admit this before I had my own children). My work at work and my work at home intersect daily. Since I work in a hospital, I don’t field as ...

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When my colleagues and I reported for new intern orientation 19 years ago, we were given navy scrubs emblazoned with the residency program’s logo, a couple of creased and blindingly clean white coats, and, of course, a standard issue pager. I will admit that there was something thrilling about having my own tools of the trade; these accessories would identify me to the outside world as a doctor. I had ...

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My husband recently found a bag of breast milk in the freezer as he scrounged for dinner ingredients. This milk was pumped over four years ago for my third baby who turns five next week. Just like I did for her older siblings, I religiously pumped breast milk at work until her first birthday. On the day that she turned one, I stopped lugging my pump bag to work, stopped ...

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I am a pediatric hospitalist in middle America. I believe in you, and I hope that you believe in me. Many of my patients’ parents do not believe in me, you see, and it makes it hard for me to do my job and to take care of these children in the way that I have been trained and believe to be in their best interest. A toddler has just died ...

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While riding shotgun in the family minivan on the way home from a fall break water park trip, I received the following text message:

I thought of you today! One of the residents here had done a great job with a complex (and really sad) labor and delivery patient, and the nurse was telling me how awesome she was … so I thought to myself that I should do what you ...

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Not knowing what else to do after finishing my pediatric residency 15 years ago, I became a general pediatrician. Not knowing how to find a job halfway across the country and closer to home, I relied on a recruiter from a smallish town in South Dakota to woo me into private practice. Not knowing how to choose my future partners, I let them choose me. Despite my unbelievably naive approach to ...

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The glorious season is upon us. Yes, it is finally autumn. But it is also the season of ERAS with all of its letters of recommendation, USMLE scores, medical school transcripts, and personal statements. I have dutifully reviewed dozens of applicants whose last names begin with the letters “T” through “Z.” I have noted the test scores and grades. I have considered the caliber of medical school and whether the LORs ...

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“Do your parents realize that he could die?” I had been summoned to the workspace of the ED physician who was trying to save my brother’s life. I remember noticing that he was short with thick brown hair and a crisp white coat which were both too tidy and incongruent with the message he was delivering. He struck me as someone who was earnestly playing the role of a physician instead ...

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I learn all manner of interesting things from the information sheets posted on the walls of the employee bathrooms at my hospital. I learn, for example, about upcoming CME offerings for advance practice providers, how many seconds one has to scrub the hub of a central line, and what the new process is when nurses need to call in sick. They call a specific phone number and state that they ...

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During my first pregnancy, I frequently dreamt of my baby. I couldn’t remember the details of facial features or hair color, but I always knew that I was going to have a girl. Three years passed after Claire was born, two more heartbeats were identified and then lost somewhere deep within my abdomen. On two occasions, I watched blood seep from my body and stain my clothing, realizing that I didn’t ...

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The supervising resident’s Voalte phone dinged: “Dr. Mel: Please meet Dr. Rosemond at room 514 for Cardiology rounds.” She scrolled up a few texts and saw that her male counterpart who had rounded the previous day had been addressed as “Dr. Stearnes.” When Mel mentioned the discrepancy to Jacob Stearnes, he just shrugged and said, “The cardiology nurse probably doesn’t even know my first name.” When Mel mentioned the discrepancy to her husband, ...

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Fresh out of residency and having just turned 29 years old, I started my first job as a general pediatrician in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. One of the first official tasks of my new position involved picking out brand new office furniture for my private windowed office which was housed along the perimeter of the multi-specialty clinic I had joined. I went with a blond L-shaped desk and shelf unit ...

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