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Beginner’s Mind

Jessica Stuart ~

I paced in the hallway outside of the patient’s room, going over my mental checklist of items to do during the history and physical examination. Bringing in a paper list was discouraged; we were meant to “flow” through the exam “naturally.”

I stuffed my hands into the pockets of the white coat I’d received three weeks earlier, during the White Coat Ceremony for first-year medical students. Feeling around the deep

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Mad Man

Zach Reichert ~

In my third year of medical school, I started a rotation at the nearby VA hospital. Walking toward the polished glass doors that morning, I saw my reflection–clean white coat, assured expression to cover up how lost I felt. It was my second clinical rotation ever, and my first time at the VA.

I found my team and soon met a patient I’d be seeing for the

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Hooked

John Barber ~

I walked into the room of a dying man. This phrase might conjure up the image of a frail, white-haired patient peacefully nearing the end of life. Alex, however, was thirty–just two years older than me.

I was a third-year medical student doing a rotation in the ICU. This first encounter was sadly inglorious: As my team entered Alex’s room, the police officer who’d been guarding him walked out, leaving

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What Did the Doctor Say?

Charlotte Grinberg ~

Here’s what they should have told you: “We found cancer in your lymph nodes, your liver, your lungs and your brain. It explains your weight loss, your difficulty breathing and your loss of appetite. This wasn’t just your depression, like you thought. It started in your lungs, and now it’s everywhere. This cancer has been growing for quite some time. You cannot, even with the strongest medications and the longest surgeries,

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Miraculous Recovery

Alexandra Lackey ~

During my third year of medical school, I completed a clinical rotation in surgery. I was certain that it would be horrible. I envisioned myself in the OR, getting lightheaded, passing out onto the sterile field and being yelled at by my attending physician. I worried that the medical knowledge I’d worked so hard to learn would be neglected in favor of memorizing the steps of surgical procedures. My parents, who

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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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Sick of Being Sick


Ryan Nesbit ~

From second through fifth grade, I mastered the art of being sick. I got out of school, soccer practice and piano lessons so that I could be the child I wanted to be–not sick, but loved, cared for.

Here was my recipe:

1. Wake up.
2. Feel anxious about the day to come (this was natural).
3. Let the anxiety morph into a sickly pallor.

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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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Scarred

Joe Burns ~

“Did you have heart surgery?”

The shy seventeen-year-old girl’s question caught me completely off guard.

Her name was Sarah. Everything about her seemed perfectly organized–her long black braid falling ruler-straight between her shoulders, her folder with all of its documents sorted by date, her matching shoes and shirt, her entire wardrobe without a single wrinkle.

Her health was a bit less perfect. She’d been born with an atrial

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Why Aren’t You Depressed?

Tess Timmes ~

“Please walk slowly,” cautioned Sunita, my interpreter, as I crept down the stony switchback trail towards the rural Nepali village of Dhulikhel. Sunita, in her petite navy ballet flats, hopped down the rocks as easily as the speckled goats grazing nearby.

Emboldened by her speed, I stepped along eagerly, only to catch my size-ten neon running sneaker on a root and splat face-first into the dust. Looking up, I saw

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Cat and Mouse

Kristen Lee ~

On TV shows, therapists decorate their rooms with leather lounge chairs, throw pillows and organza curtains that let in the light.

But Dr. Hassan’s office is in the clinic basement. The fluorescent lighting is sterile. She has a gray metal desk–I think every doctor I’ve shadowed as a medical student has had that same desk.

But I’m not here as a student.

I’ve been anticipating this appointment for

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