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About Last Night


H. Lee Kagan ~

It was a night like many others. I was taking call from home for my medical partner and myself. My wife and I had settled in, planning to stream the new season of Goliath on Netflix. But the internet was down, so we were watching a talent competition on regular TV instead.

At 8:30, my phone rang.

“Hello, this is Dr. Kagan.”

A long pause, then

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The Words I Did Not Say

Heather Edward

About the artist:

Heather Edward is now a pediatric intern at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University/Rhode Island Hospital. Her comics have been included in the National Academy of Medicine’s Expressions of Clinician Well-Being online gallery and Zucker School of Medicine’s Celebration of Visual Art. “I started using comics in med school

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Me Too


Frozan Walyzada ~

It’s late on a Friday afternoon in the outpatient clinic where I’m a third-year psychiatry resident. I’m wrapping up my appointment with Jane, a thirty-five-year-old woman with a mild intellectual disability who comes every month to refill her antidepressant prescription.

“Have you been watching the court case on TV?” she whispers.

I stop what I’m doing and look at her.

“The case with the judge and

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Right Coat Ceremony

Shadi Ahmadmehrabi ~

It was my first day of orientation at medical school. In a hallway stood a coat rack overflowing with white garments. I set down my accumulated papers, reached for a hanger and, for the first time ever, shrugged first one arm and then the other into a white coat.

It was too large, but I had no other options. The unisex coats ran from XXS to XXL, but the smallest

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My Immigrant Patients

Joanna Sharpless ~

In the living room of the house where I grew up hangs a framed copy of a seventeenth-century map of Pennsylvania. The land is divided into tiny plots, each painstakingly labeled with a family name.

When I was little, I’d stand in front of the map and search for the little squares labeled “Sharples”–the original version of my last name. I’d imagine my distant ancestors, John and Jane Sharples and

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Top of the Hill

Erika Walker ~

“It’s as if you’re at the top of a hill,”
the doctor said. My father listened
from his hospital bed, a plastic tube

fed him breath he could no longer take
for himself. “Each time you get sick,”
the doctor said, “you roll a little farther

down the hill.” His young face shone
above his white coat. I remember rolling
down green

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A Good Cry

Colette Charles ~

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.

“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

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Cushioning the Fall

Meghan G. Liroff ~

Angela Harris has been here in the hospital for six hours, awaiting the results of her CAT scan. I won’t take responsibility for all of that wait time: complicated CAT scans and labs do take a significant amount of time to perform. But she didn’t need to wait the last hour.

She was waiting on me–her emergency physician–because I needed to confirm her cancer diagnosis with radiology, arrange some

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A Tingling Sensation

Mitch Kaminski ~

It had been a hectic day in the urgent-care clinic of my large family practice, and I was starting to worry about the time: My last two patients had put me thirty minutes behind.

I felt relieved when I saw the note for the next patient: “Seventy-four-year-old female with UTI.”

A urinary-tract infection! This should be quick and uncomplicated….

I walked into the room to find a well-dressed older

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A Series of Unfortunate Events

Holland M. Kaplan ~

I’m sitting in the ICU team room, staring at the computer, trying to look like I’m writing a note. But my head is pounding.

As an internal-medicine resident doing my first month of residency, I’ve found the ICU of the bustling county hospital a jarring place to start my training. Although I’d anticipated the clinical challenge of caring for very ill ICU patients, I was unprepared for the emotional

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Too Close for Comfort

Andrea Eisenberg ~

Many years ago, on a busy day in my obstetrics-and-gynecology office, one of my partner’s patients came in for “bleeding, early pregnancy.” Since my partner wasn’t in that day, I saw the woman, whose name was Sarah. After we’d talked a bit, I examined her and did an ultrasound. As I’d expected, she was having a miscarriage. Feeling sorry that Sarah had to hear it from me, rather than from her

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