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All I Could Do

Leigh B. Grossman ~

The clinic in rural Haiti is a small stucco building with no electricity or running water. The temperature inside the clinic is 103 degrees, and there is no breeze. The examining-room walls are only seven feet high and afford no privacy.

This is my fourteenth trip to Haiti as a volunteer pediatrician. My twenty-fifth patient of the morning is a three-month-old infant named Joceylyn Marquee, who is completely swaddled

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The Patient I Didn’t Want


Krithika Kavanoor ~

When I first met Ms. Ruiz, I was barely three months into my first year as a family-medicine resident. I was working harder than I’d ever worked before, and continually facing new challenges. I knew that I was learning, and so I persevered, but opportunities for self-doubt were abundant.

Maybe that was why Ms. Ruiz made such a big impression on me.

A middle-aged woman with a small

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The Man Who Handed Me His Poop


Allie Gips ~

In broken English, against the backdrop of the emergency department’s chaos and clatter, Mr. Simon relayed his story: unintentional weight loss, gradually yellowing skin, weeks of constipation. He punctuated his list of devastating symptoms with laughter–exaggerated but genuine guffaws.

Over the next few days, as the medical student responsible for his care, I was also responsible for handing him piece after piece of bad news. An obstructing gallstone in

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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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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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Wounded Healer

Jamie Sweigart ~

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon on my urban college campus. I’d been sitting on the grass outside a lecture hall where my premed classmates and I would study together on weekends. This particular weekend, I was alone. Campus was empty, except for a man with a backpack who occasionally passed by.

Finished with studying, I started walking down a deserted sidewalk back to my apartment, a few blocks away.

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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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Just What the Doctor Ordered

David Edelbaum ~

I began practicing as an internist/nephrologist in the early 1960s. Having rented an office in Los Angeles, I introduced myself to the local medical community and set out to build a practice.

With a growing family, a mortgage and an office to support, I was hungry for patients. Hospital emergency rooms were good referral sources, so I took ER call at three different hospitals.

Late one Friday night, I got

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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 Stranger Comes to Town

Syed M. Ahmed ~

Twenty-five years ago, having completed my family-medicine residency, I left Houston to start a two-year stint practicing in a remote village of fewer than 2,000 souls in the Appalachian Mountains of Ohio.

The day I arrived at my new workplace (a two-person practice in the only clinic for fifty miles), my new colleague Dr. Jones told me that she was leaving the next day on a two-week vacation.

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Playing a Hunch

Amy Crawford-Faucher ~

There’s one thing about being a family doctor: After a while, almost every patient you see is a familiar face. This can be a blessing or a curse, but mostly it’s a blessing.

This morning I’m in my office, reviewing today’s patients with Julia, the medical student rotating in our office.

I’m especially looking forward to my 10:30 appointment. It’s the first checkup for a newborn girl named Ella.

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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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