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Q & A

Kyle Bernard

The interview had lasted fifteen minutes so far, and we’d made minimal progress. I was a medical student doing a rotation at a physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic back in my home state, Wisconsin. It was the end of the day; to save time, the senior resident, Paul, had joined me in the exam room so that we could hear Leora’s medical history together.

A year earlier, Leora, in her mid-fifties, had suffered

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The Arm

David G. Thoele

I was on the cusp of my first year in medical school, and time was running out. Classes started in two weeks. I needed a place to live–ideally someplace cheap, not too far from school.

There was an opening at Phi Chi medical fraternity, a large brick house of faded elegance located less than a block from my classes at the University of Minnesota. At $75 a month for a tiny room

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embrace - liu



Jessica Liu

About the artist: 

Jessica Liu is currently a third-year medical student at the University of California Davis, where she serves as a codirector of the Willow Student-Run Free Clinic. “One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein, who wrote, ‘The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source

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Dear Joseph

Michael Terry

I stood right beside them as they slowly slid your head into a plastic bag, looped the coarse twine about your neck and tied it tightly. Like the amateurs they were, they double-knotted it to make sure nothing came loose or dripped out. Then they casually walked away, chatting about what would come next.

Within minutes the bag fogged up, and a clear red liquid pooled at the bottom.

That was just the

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Inside the Hospital

Kendall Madden

It’s a desert in here–
the way they suck
the air from one
compartment to another.
I’m parched–
forgotten rain,
blanched mollusk
without the sea.

My stiff face
tries to smile
at a wilted patient.
Pink-tongued lilies
once in a while
overcome the disinfectant,
stale sweat,
with hothouse perfume.

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Vanishing Act

Sudeep Dhoj Thapa

It was a summer night during my first year of medical school. Small bugs danced about the school buildings’ lights and filled the air with their penetrating hum. 

In the television room, located across a small grassy lawn from the dormitories, I sat watching old movies with my classmate and friend Rajesh. 

Rajesh was tall and chunky. He wore his thick, jet-black hair combed

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Joe the Handyman

Angela Yang

“Forty-two-year old male, chronic pain syndrome,” the chart reads. 

I’m a third-year medical student doing an elective at a physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic, and this is my first time seeing Joe. 

Sitting expectantly in the exam-room chair, he’s a gaunt man with a long face and dark tattoos down his arms. Wire-rimmed glasses, stringy ponytail, faded jeans and leather jacket complete the look. 


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Illness 101

Madeline R. Sterling

My time as a medical student is quickly coming to an end. Later this month, along with hundreds of my fellow seniors across the country, I will receive a medical degree.

This past winter, with nearly four years of arduous study, countless examinations and numerous clinical rotations under my belt, I couldn’t help but think, Yes, I’m ready to be a doctor.

And then I became a patient.

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Behind Closed Doors

Sophia Lee Ryan

I’d prepared as much as I could: I had a huge coffee, a water and every kind of snack imaginable stuffed into my bag. In my head I carried as much information about dilation and curettage as I’d been able to absorb during a study session at Starbucks the night before.

I was a third-year medical student doing my obstetrics and gynecology clerkship, and I was about to spend

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A Reason to Stay

Ashish Massey

“Aren’t those decorations looking nice?” asks a soft voice beside me.

Startled, I turn to find a young woman wearing a red-and-white sari. Her head and face are swathed in the folds of the sari, leaving only the large red bindi on her forehead clearly visible.

We’re sitting on a grassy tuft amid a large campus green. All about us stand buildings with signs in both Hindi and English. Atop the

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Ben White

When I first met Florence in the ER, she’d already been dying for some time.

I was a third-year medical student doing my internal-medicine clerkship. Florence was a soft-spoken, tired woman in her sixties. To her, I was yet another face asking all the same questions, but she didn’t mind telling her story again–although she did stop

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Hurricane Sandy: Two Tales of One City

Editor’s Note: Hurricane Sandy hit New York, Pulse‘s home, on Monday, October 29. Eleven days later, many parts of our area are still limping toward recovery. Today we bring you two stories, rather than the usual one, about the hurricane’s impact. The first is by a medical student who was suddenly thrust closer to his newly adopted city. The second is an e-mail written to a colleague by

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