Everybody gets nervous at the doctor’s office. Physicians ask all sorts of personal questions about what people eat, how much they drink, and how things are at home. Even questions that would seem completely harmless in another context — such as how work is going, or what hobbies a person enjoys — seem surrounded by hidden meaning and purpose. After all, who doesn’t want to “pass” their annual checkup? Part of ...

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Like most medical trainees my age, I step into the hospital with the entire knowledge base of the world in my pocket. I have apps on my phone to look up disease symptoms and diagnoses, reference drug doses and side effects, estimate the 10-year risk of having a heart attack, determine the correct timing and type of vaccine administration and screening tests, and even display the risks, benefits, and statistics ...

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Working in a clinic as a medical student is the best of all worlds. We have the opportunity to expand our knowledge and skills by working with some incredible patients, all while knowing that we have the support and backup of our fully trained, expert attending physicians every step of the way. This apprenticeship type of system is absolutely essential to medical training, allowing us to get our feet underneath ...

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I’ve had lots of practice comforting people. I’ve had to tell patients that their cancer is back in a busy emergency department. I’ve updated family members of patients who are being kept alive by machines in the intensive care unit. I’ve walked alongside patients as they get rolled into an operating room, and crouched down by a patient’s bed as they writhe in pain. There have been moments of fear, ...

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More than two years ago, I wrote about some of the obstacles -- as well as the opportunities -- that introverted medical students face during training. Now that I have many rotations under my belt, it’s time for an update about my experiences on rotations, along with some helpful advice to newcomers. The challenges First, the challenges: Medical school rotations are very fast-paced, and our team members (co-workers and superiors) ...

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Have you ever wondered exactly what it means when a medical student is “on rotations”? We always claim that we’re busy, but just what is it that we do all day? To answer these questions, here’s a recap of one day from my inpatient pediatrics rotation. 5:27 a.m.: I pull out of the parking lot and start the now-familiar early morning commute down I-280 to San Jose. The good thing about ...

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As our elected officials consider to weigh the future of our nation’s health care, I thought I would take the opportunity to share a few vignettes of patients that I’ve encountered this year who exemplify the way that access to health care can make the difference between life and death.  The undocumented immigrant with seizures. We recently met a young undocumented Californian in his twenties in the emergency department, who came after ...

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For the first two years of medical school, everything was all about us. Day one was our white coat ceremony. Our family and friends traveled from near and far to come celebrate our achievements; the school gifted us stethoscopes and white coats to mark the beginning of our journeys. We had already accomplished amazing feats to get here, we were told, and we were expected to continue to do great things. ...

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During the first year of medical school, one of the most nerve-wracking, but exciting, experiences was learning how to interview and examine patients. At that time, we mostly worked with “standardized patients” -- people who are trained specifically to play the role of a scripted medical case. Although working with them seemed incredibly challenging at the time, the rules of engagement were in fact very favorable to us. Asking a question ...

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Many people know that an important part of medical school is choosing a specialty — the field of medicine that you plan to practice for the rest of your career. However, fewer people know just how many different factors weigh on this decision. As my classmates and I navigate through third year, I thought I would share several of the factors that enter the balancing act: Clinical interest: The simplest, yet ...

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