I've just completed traveling around the country for residency interviews, so I've been thinking a lot about what it means to ask and answer personal questions. In my desired specialty of dermatology, a typical interview day consists of short, intense bursts of eight to 12 interviews lasting around 10 minutes each, akin to speed dating. Because dermatology is a small specialty, a large portion of the department tends to ...

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It’s an odd time to be a new physician. One of the best parts about working at a hospital is the sense of friendship and professional camaraderie that you build with other doctors, nurses, therapists, medical assistants, secretaries, etc. However, in the COVID-19 era, group events, bonding activities, dinners, conferences, social events, and holiday parties are no longer responsible options. This is for a good reason; according to an email leaked ...

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I have been nourished by cafeteria food since elementary school. I remember the public school pizza squares with its melted artificial cheese, the fruit cocktail drenched in sickeningly sweet syrup, and 2 percent chocolate milk pints—costing $1.65 per meal. In college, I enjoyed access to a wider selection, including $6.50 custom omelets and midnight mozzarella sticks to fuel late-night study sessions. However, nothing came close to the quality and ...

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I have found that sleep and the medical profession have an uneasy relationship. Physicians, of course, recommend that patients get at least seven hours of sleep each night. But despite dispensing that advice to others, I don't think I personally know a single doctor who actually sleeps that much, given the demands of providing care, documentation, making time for their loved ones and ruminating on illnesses and treatments for patients who ...

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Growing up in a Korean household meant that I had very little experience with the type of baking that most Americans are used to; My grandma made rice cakes, not birthday cakes. But during my third year of medical school, an intern recommended a show called The Great British Bake Off. After watching a few episodes and seeing what devoted home bakers could do, I was smitten and resolved to bake a ...

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There's a pivotal scene in the 2007 Pixar movie Ratatouille, in which the restaurant critic Anton Ego takes a first bite of the movie's titular food. He is then whisked back to a moment in his childhood, during which his mom provides love and comfort through a helping of her homemade ratatouille. This scene is a homage to Marcel Proust's seminal "Madeleine Episode," as described In Search of Lost Time, published almost ...

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Whenever someone asks me what year of medical school I am currently in, I answer that I am a "four-out-of-five." To those outside the milieu of Stanford Medicine, this is an odd response -- four-out-of-five of what? But at Stanford, this is common parlance to refer to students taking a gap year after our third year of medical school. Some would reasonably bemoan my choice to take a research year as ...

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I’m constantly awed by the fact that I get to be part of one of the best hospitals in the world, especially because as a kid, I grew up without health insurance. These were the days before the Affordable Care Act; there was no penalty for going without health coverage. As a non-citizen, I was ineligible for Medicaid, and private health care was prohibitively expensive for my family. Fortunately, I was ...

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“Sondor” is a made-up internet neologism that captures the fleeting but poignant sense of “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own — populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness.” I think about this word often when I see my patients. Everyone is the main character of his or her life, and during the third year of medical ...

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There is a saying among students that medical education is like “taking a drink out of a fire hydrant.” The simile evokes the torrent of information and the impossibility of taking it all in. The type of people who are admitted to medical school aren't used to being wrong; to call them perfectionists wouldn’t be too far from the truth. Many secured a seat in medical school because they had made ...

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The third year of medical school is when a student experiences the frustrations of medicine firsthand. Once, my team admitted a transfer patient from another hospital to treat a condition that was ravaging the patient’s lungs. But before we could act, we needed to rule out a dormant infection; if our patient was unknowingly infected with tuberculosis (TB), giving our first-line therapies could lead to a disseminated infection — even ...

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