Colette Charles

Daring to Dream

For the past three years, I worked as a rural primary-care doctor. Two months ago, I resigned to pursue further training in hospice and palliative care. My patients were the inspiration that illuminated every step of my way towards this new path.

Marly came to me for a workup of her persistently elevated liver enzymes. Together, we navigated her new diagnosis—liver cancer—and a series of failed treatments. Eventually, Marly’s thoughts turned to facing her mortality.

Evolution of My Views on Abortion

There was a time when I viewed abortion as permissible only in very specific situations. That was the view I held during my years of medical school.

Then came residency training. Our program had a clinic where we offered abortions. I was not mandated to perform the procedure, but I was expected to become competent in educating my patients, if needed, regarding abortions and provide them with resources for whatever their decision may be. I was not prepared for how conflicted I would feel about doing this.

Immigrant MD

I’ve spent the last eight years as a foreigner in the U.S. My last two years of medical school, I did my rotations in the Washington, DC, area, but had to leave the country every six months to renew my visa. Each trip, I would think, Will they let me back in this time? My stomach would migrate to my throat every time immigration officers directed me to secondary clearance. I felt like a criminal. They scrutinized the letter from my school validating my credentials, looking for a reason to kill my dreams.

I thought things would be different once I was a resident. But no one had told me that if I wanted to travel “freely” I would have to leave the country to renew my visa stamp every year. Who has the time or money for that on a resident’s salary? I traveled back home just once during my three years of residency. Imagine not seeing your family for two years, praying they stay well until you can hug them again. But when an officer yet again inspected my documents with doubt and scrutiny, he could not seem to look past “Immigrant” to see my “MD.” The uncertainty surrounding being …

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A Good Cry

I was a second-year resident, doing a twenty-four-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.

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