I wasn't as happy as I expected to be when I walked out of the hospital on my last day in medical school. But then again, there was little to celebrate -- my last few patients had terminal cancer, a stroke, and end-stage liver disease from alcoholism. I signed off my patients to my resident, and so, my medical school career came to an unceremonious end. I thought to myself ...

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The residency interview trail quickly becomes a lonesome journey, so when I was on it this winter, I’d usually have the hotel room television turned on for some background noise and often find myself watching ESPN’s SportsCenter. On my last interview in Philadelphia, the show was featuring the high flying phenom Zion Williamson, who’s set to be drafted this year to the NBA. When I finally returned to home in ...

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Back when I was a third-year medical student, I would sometimes bike to the hospital campus early enough to catch the groundskeepers cleaning the promenade in front of the medical school before the foot traffic arrived. Discovery Walk, as it’s called, is a beautiful promenade with stone murals commemorating the significant discoveries made at Stanford. It’s a beautiful scene, especially during sunrise or sunset, which many of my classmates have ...

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I recently attended a small dinner hosting Robert Lefkowitz, MD, the winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery for G-protein coupled receptors. Throughout the night, the conversation traversed a diverse range of topics — from his adventures in Stockholm, Sweden to his work-life balance — but his remarks on one particular subject stuck with me. It turns out that Dr. Lefkowitz, when interviewing candidates to work in ...

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We recently had a patient who arrived on our service in the intensive care unit after a complicated surgery. The surgery left him close to dying, and he was immediately put on life support and given heavy sedatives. Ventilators breathed for him. Special drugs kept his heart beating. A continuous pump acted as his kidneys, filtering out his body’s toxins and infusing the cleaned blood back into his veins anew. He had ...

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The common critique of surgeons from their medical colleagues is the scant amount of time spent with their patients. As the argument goes, surgery is more impersonal than other specialties and those who practice it see their patients in one dimension. In some sense, they aren’t wrong. For those who wield the scalpel, speed and efficiency are a priority. It's a philosophy perfectly illustrated during morning rounds, the daily tour of patients ...

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One late evening on pediatrics call, a frantic young couple brought in their few weeks old baby. She had spiked a fever which refused to go down and was fussier than normal. The cause of her symptoms could have been anything -- at best, a mild respiratory infection, in which case we would simply watch her and manage her symptoms, but at worst, it could be meningitis, an infection attacking ...

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In the mid-1800s, Ignaz Semmelweis, then a professor at Johns Hopkins, proposed something outrageous: Doctors and medical students working in the maternity ward should wash their hands before delivering babies because doing so could reduce infant mortality. For proof, he performed a rigorous experiment that showed babies delivered by midwives, who traditionally did wash their hands prior to deliveries, had rate of death that was five-fold lower than those delivered by doctors. He ...

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My mind usually starts to wander around the third or fourth hour of retracting a fat flap or holding up a leg during a long operation. I start by guessing how many times the attending has done this particular procedure. Is it his hundredth time doing it? If he was one of the older attendings, perhaps it was his thousandth one. As a neophyte in the operating room, I still relish ...

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Running has been a constant in my life, and it always will be. I’ve gone on runs in snowstorms and 100-plus degree heat waves, Christmas mornings and birthdays. That hour or so dedicated to running is sacred, reserved for a few minutes to clear my head, a sort of reset button to each day. I’m surrounded by nothing but the sound of shoes hitting the pavement and gasps of heavy ...

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