Goodbyes were confusing during my third and fourth years of medical school. Even on my way to a 28-hour labor and delivery call, I tended to say, “I’m leaving for school.” Rather quickly, my wife trained me to say, “I’m leaving for work.” I was never quite reconciled to this, as I couldn’t forget the upcoming exams and tuition costs around $30,000 per year. For the uninitiated, “work” as a medical ...

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I teach first-year medical students how to take a medical history and perform physical exams on patients. These skills are the foundation of medicine. The history and physical exam (plus a few basic tests) are time-tested methods for diagnosing disease. Using these tools, a skilled physician can reach an accurate diagnosis more often than not. We humans share a standard range of symptoms. Pain, weight loss, fever, cough, abdominal complaints: They are ...

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Medical practice is a calling. It's not a job, it's not a career -- it's a vocation. And if you really love your vocation, you'll let nothing stand in your way. Certainly not something as trivial and crass as money. After all, once you're in practice, you'll be raking it in, right? So why worry about that now, when you're just beginning your medical education? That attitude is pervasive, and it's ...

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The third year of medical school is met with a newfound sense of freedom. Freedom to rediscover yourself and rekindle your love for all things forgotten. It’s about the thrill of seeing your textbook knowledge come to life or connecting deeply with a stranger. It’s about the humbling moments in medicine that force you to hide tears in the exam room. Allergies, you say. You can tackle anyone’s drug list now, ...

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When I was in fourth grade, I won our school’s spelling bee. This meant that I went on to the next tier of the local spelling world -- the sort of prestigious competition that takes place in a gymnasium somewhere with a makeshift stage and a bunch of flags. I was the first kid disqualified. I misspelled veterinarian “veterenarian” and battlement “battlemint.” I remember feeling, in the moment the announcer said, ...

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You extend a firm handshake and get ready to sit down at the table across from your mentor for the first time. Woah, wait. Let’s back up to the legwork that should have happened prior to this meeting. First step, you found the mentor (see this post for practical ideas on how to find a mentor). Neither you nor the mentor have a lot of time — a frequent obstacle often ...

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Strong letters of recommendation are essential for supporting your residency application and matching well. This article details how to ensure you get great letters of recommendation. Knowing what constitutes a great letter of recommendation is crucial to obtaining outstanding letters. A strong letter of recommendation clearly conveys knowledge of the medical student, how that student performed and qualities that predict excellent performance in residency. Strong letters of recommendation include the following:

“Those emergency room residents are f**king retarded!” This was the comment that rang through the workroom.  I had only been on this hospital service for three days, and I was having a discussion about a patient with my attending when the on-call resident had burst into the workroom and sat down next to me. He was fuming. “Why the f*** would they think I need to be consulted for this? Only ...

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In the days after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, four Yale physicians began an ambitious effort to send thousands of pounds of medical supplies to the storm-ravaged island. Despite having had no prior experience with disaster response, these doctors worked with contacts in Puerto Rico to generate a detailed needs-assessment, determining exactly which medical supplies were needed on the island. Using social media, traditional media, and professional connections, ...

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The hardest thing about medical school isn’t learning medicine. It isn’t the hours. It isn’t the tests. It’s that you sign away control over years of your adult life. When I started my clerkship year in January, I felt like I was stepping onto a conveyor belt and would not be allowed off for twelve long months. For the entirety of 2018, my days are planned for me, my hours are ...

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