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We are proud to announce Encounters, our latest feature. Patients talk about their healthcare experiences and share stories of their lives outside the doctor's office. 

Encounters

Seeing Immigrants: "She said to me, 'This is your day. You pass.' And I started to cry."

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Bronx, New York

About the Seeing Immigrants Series:

From the time she was a medical student, Joanna Sharpless has been collecting immigration stories to learn more about the struggles and celebrations of being an immigrant in America. For a social medicine project undertaken during residency, she combined excerpts from interviews with a half-dozen of her immigrant patients with photographs of these immigrants holding something of importance to them. Three of these photos and excerpts are presented here. More will be featured in a later issue of Pulse. All of these photos and excerpts are exhibited at the family health center where Dr. Sharpless saw patients during her residency--in the hopes of creating a welcoming atmosphere for current and future immigrants. For Joanna Sharpless's own story of her interest in immigrants, see "My Immigrant Patients."

 

Visuals editor:

Sara Kohrt

Encounters: "Who am I to tell someone facing disease how to feel?"

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Bronx, New York

About this Encounter: 

I’m caring for my sister, who's very ill. When I feel like I’m coming up short, it kind of creates a depression for me. I’ve learned to establish boundaries for myself, because when people become ill like that, they become bitter and mean sometimes. And I’ve really, really, really had to struggle.

Encounters: "You know...sometimes I don't remember that I have it."

 
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Bronx, New York
 

Should I talk about the bad stories or the good stories?

Okay, the bad part is hearing that something’s wrong with you. That burns me.

I don’t want doctors bothering me--just leave me alone. I don’t know why I’m afraid of doctors. Sometimes I just don’t like to hear them talk. I just found myself going more to the doctor after I was diagnosed. Before, I didn’t have to go to the doctor. I was healthy.

Encounters: "...you have to start all over again in the American system."

 
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Bronx, New York 
 
I’m originally from Guyana. It’s a little country in South America, between Brazil and Venezuela. I’m from British Guyana, and we’re the only English-speaking country in that hemisphere. My whole family came from there together--my wife, my daughter and I. My daughter was around eight years old at the time. She loves it here now. She says she doesn’t want to go back. We came as legal residents, but now I’m a citizen.