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On Hateful Things

This essay is modeled after Sei Shonogun’s list “Hateful Things” from her tenth-century classic The Pillow Book. She listed everything she hated about being a lady-in-waiting to the Japanese empress, ca. 966-1017.

I wrote my list as a family physician working in community health centers, ca. 2005-2020. As our nation grapples with endemic racism while also facing the COVID pandemic, my trials and tribulations may seem trivial–but they also reflect a broken medical

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Breadwinner

Breadwinner

The first thing I notice are the dark circles under Mr. Jones’s eyes.

It’s 4:30 pm on a Wednesday during my third year of medical school. I’m in the fifth week of my family-medicine rotation, and we’re deep into our daily routine: triage, history, physical examination, differential diagnosis, present the case to the attending physician, repeat.

Mr. Jones is a new patient. His face and belly are round, his arms and legs lanky.

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Care in Airplane Mode

Airplane mode disables me from using Wi-Fi and enables me to provide distraction-free care to the patients in front of me. Truly disconnecting is difficult, but being in rural Honduras allows me to switch my phone settings with ease. My otoscope and ophthalmoscope cannot see texts and emails. My stethoscope cannot hear incoming calls. My hands cannot feel my IPhone screen. I am in tune with my body, my senses and my patient.
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A Prescription for Change

 
I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in health care. There was simply an accumulation of moments from different parts of my life that somehow guided me in that direction. I do, though, remember making a definite decision to continue heading in that direction.

After my second year as a premed student, I felt the need for something more hands-on than my studies. I longed for confirmation

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Kenya

The unscreened windows were wide open, letting in both the breeze and buzzing flies. A chicken roamed about freely, unaware that it was in a surgical area. Off to the side sat a drying rack half-filled with “sterile” gloves, standing at attention like soldiers ready for inspection. In the center of the room lay a woman on the operating table, her feet in stirrups and her dress hiked up to her waist. She had delivered a

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The Financial Assessment

 

My Nicaraguan pediatrician friend astutely summarized her work: First you make the clinical assessment, then you make the financial assessment. In other words, a clinician may know the right treatment, but what good does that do the patient if the treatment is entirely out of reach financially?

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DDoA Seehra

#KeepAmericaCovered

Amrita Seehra

About the artist: 

“Krithika Kavanoor (left) and I are both family-medicine residents at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. As primary-care providers in one of the poorest urban counties in the US, we see firsthand the impact that access to health care–and the lack thereof–can have on our patients. The narratives we share are

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An Orphan’s Tale

Peter Ferrarone

At the outset, I confess that I have no experience in the medical field. I’m not a doctor or a nurse; I’m a recent college graduate, a writer and someone who’s interested in the world. And, all last summer, I was a volunteer in Uganda. 

I’d met a Ugandan priest who was visiting the States on a

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