Since the first day of medical school, I was in breathless anticipation of my third year. I came to Harvard with a background in creative writing and the big draw of medicine for me lay in its compendium of human stories. In college, I volunteered at local hospitals where my primary responsibility was to go knock on patients’ doors and keep them company for a little while. This was awesome. Few ...

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My patient suddenly leaned forward, swung her hair up, and began to push it this way and that, determined to find and show me the partitions that her hair made when rested in a new equilibrium. It was a warm Thursday afternoon and we were in dermatology clinic. This 20-something young professional had come to have her scalp examined. She'd noticed a sudden increase in the quantity of hair follicles that ...

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My business ethics class recently discussed the case of Cipla Pharmaceuticals, an Indian generic drug manufacturer drawing the ire of big pharma by blithely ignoring international patents or employing workarounds to manufacture low-cost generics in direct violation of the patents. Cipla’s founder, Dr. Yusuf Hamied, stressed that Cipla’s goal wasn’t to steal from the bottom line of the likes of Merck and Eli Lilly, but rather to serve its mission ...

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Melanoma The man who had been seated in room 2 by the medical assistant had been seen 6 months previously for a small, pigmented lesion behind his left ear, which a punch biopsy subsequently proved to be malignant melanoma in situ. He was sent to the Mohs surgeon in the interim who carefully excised just as much skin as was absolutely necessary and ...

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We heard from a patient during our dermatology week, who worked as a medical laboratory technician, running hundreds of blood samples every day, and frequently using her own blood as the negative control. Then she began to notice that the numbers stopped making sense. Her ANA had shot through the roof and her white blood cells started dropping. "I couldn’t use my blood as the negative control anymore," she said, shrugging ...

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Recently, the Harvard class of 2014 took its last exam of the year. We filled our usual amphitheater, took a 60 multiple choice question test on viruses, parasites and fungi, and went to go see X-men in the afternoon. I told my mom last night that I expected people to exit the lecture hall in hysterics, falling to their knees on our marble floors and weeping at being 25% closer to ...

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