Even though my own internship was a decade ago, I vividly remember the transition from student to resident. Residency was monumental in my path to becoming a physician. There were obvious changes: People now called me “doctor,” my misshapen short white coat was upgraded to a more comforting full length one, and I was often the first one paged to respond to patient problems. Coupled with the positive aspects though, ...

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Everyone knows that the process of applying and getting accepted into medical school is highly competitive. Last year, 51,680 people applied for seats in U.S. medical schools. Collectively, they submitted 816,153 applications -- a whopping 16 applications per person on average. Only 21,338 applicants matriculated to a U.S. school last fall, or 41 percent of applicants. So how do the admissions committees evaluating all these applicants make their ...

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As I was reviewing his chart, I noticed under social history that “freelance artist/painter” was listed as his occupation. I've never met a patient of such talent and honestly, I was excited to meet him. When I arrived at the ER, I was introduced to an unassuming elderly man. He wore a pair of worn out jeans and a burnt orange T-shirt. Tufts of white hair emanated from under his ...

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What if it is your parent? Your spouse? Your child? Imagine supporting a loved one through a journey of serious illness. You go to all the appointments, know all the medications, almost feel the aches and pains as if they were our own. You repeat the same thing over and over again to one doctor after another making sure nothing slips through the cracks. Did somebody write this down? Isn’t this ...

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A few months ago, I was on call and admitted a 65-year-old man to the intensive care unit for a flare of his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although he had only gotten to the point of being unable to speak full sentences between gasps for breath for only a few days, his story started two months earlier when he had gradually started retaining water and getting more short of ...

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I was a second-year resident, doing a 24-hour shift on maternity care. I'd spent some arduous nights on call with my attending physician, Dr. Campbell. Now, we sat at the nursing station, joking about what this one might bring. "You must be a black cloud," she teased, accusing me of being one of those unfortunate residents who seem to attract medical emergencies. I laughingly protested, but in fact, these quiet nights ...

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The most high-powered rotation in my medical school was endocrinology. There, you got to see things most doctors never come close to diagnosing themselves. Uppsala University’s Akademiska Hospital served as a referral center for the Swedish population north of Uppsala, an area the size and shape of California. Back in the seventies, laboratory testing wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now. We didn’t have CT scanners even at the major hospitals, ...

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As Hannah's granddaughter clutched at her skeletal fingers, the blanket fell to the side revealing the faded serial numbers on her forearm. The family gathered, yet again, to say goodbye. This time her acrid breath had lost humidity, her respirations dry and raspy, the extremities mottled with a bluish tinge. Death had visited the neighborhood before. Lounged in the parlor. Nibbled on crackers and tea. But letting go was not so ...

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I sometimes get messages from people who have lost physician colleagues and loved ones to suicide. It’s the specifics of these stories that wound me: a note left for an unexpected person; an insignificant fight at sign-out that in retrospect is full of meaning; the white coat that a woman wore when she jumped to her death. Each of these lives is complex, and each of these deaths ...

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A speech to graduating residents. It’s an easy thing to count the number of seeds in an apple. In our residency class of 2018 we have nine seeds, and on your graduation, we scatter you across the country. You each carry amazing potential that we have hopefully helped nurture over your years here. You will be caring doctors kneeling by bedsides. You will be national leaders changing policies. You will be ...

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