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Stepping Into Power, Shedding Your White Coat: Donald Berwick’s Graduation Address

Donald Berwick

Editor’s Note: Donald Berwick, recent Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Obama Administration, and a founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, gave this speech at his daughter’s graduation from Yale Medical School on May 24, 2010.

Dean Alpern, Faculty, Families, Friends and Honored Graduates…

I don’t have words enough to express my gratitude for the chance to speak with you on your special day. It would be

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Stigmata

Kevin Koo

I started my third year of medical school as a surgery clerk. 

With this eight-week clerkship came a flood of conflicting advice from older, wiser peers: “Ask a lot of questions, but speak only when spoken to.” “Offer to help, but stay out of the way.” “Be friendly and likeable, but not too friendly–or too likeable.” For the medical student, such is the mystique of the OR.

Three weeks into my general surgery

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A Passage in India

Justin Sanders

“It’s cooler this morning,” I said to Seema, as we left the hospital grounds en route to our home visits.

It was a bright and bustling morning in Trivandrum, the capital of India’s southwesternmost state, Kerala. A third-year resident in family medicine, I had come here to work with the staff of an Indian nonprofit devoted to advancing palliative care services across India. Seema was a young, newly qualified junior doctor who had

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The Calling

Lawrence Dyche

I am a non-physician who teaches physicians. A clinical social worker by training, I help doctors learn to be more compassionate and skilled in their human interactions. I sit in with residents as they see their patients. I help them to become better listeners, I remind them that as they touch the body they also touch the soul, I emphasize the enormity of witnessing. And after two decades of doing this work with

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Dr. B Gets an F

Gregory Shumer

Flashback to a year ago: I’m a first-year medical student–a fledgling, a novice–trying to integrate countless facts into a coherent understanding of how the human body works. Professors slam me with two months’ worth of information inside of two weeks’ time. They tell us that this is a necessary process, one that all doctors must go through: we must first learn the science of medicine before we can master the art of healing.

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Pearls Before Swine

Kate Lewis

I’m a third-year medical student, and I’m starting the second day of my new rotation–a month that I’ll spend with a family physician, Dr. Bauer, in his small, efficient home-based office.

Yesterday, my first day, a young woman named Sara came in for “strep throat.” She had dark Latina eyes, broad cheekbones and a delicate tattoo of the Chinese character for “dream” on her left wrist. She was 17 and seeking out a

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Chris

Lisa deMauro

My big sister Chris, 55, had recently returned to her first career, nursing, when she wrenched her back one day while helping to lift a patient. After weeks of physical therapy proved unhelpful, her internist ordered some tests, which indicated that her back injury might signal something more sinister. She’d had a lumpectomy for a “stage 0” breast cancer five years earlier, and her doctor advised her to make an appointment with the

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Looking for Respect

Ashrei Bayewitz

This may sound strange, but I secretly looked forward to my colonoscopy.

I was excited to see the people in the colonoscopy suite–the receptionists, the nurses and my doctor. I knew that they would like me, because I would be brave and respectful. That’s what’s always happened since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease ten years ago. During my multiple colonoscopies and countless doctor visits and other outpatient procedures, I invariably build up

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Breaking Bad News

Paul Gross

Bad news is like a lump of red-hot coal that lands in your palm–and that you can’t let go of, no matter how badly you’d like to.

I was tossed the burning coal over twenty years ago, when I was thirty years old and fit as a fiddle. Or so I thought. I also happened to be a first-year medical student, having my head filled with facts large and small about the human

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