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Emergency Landing

Shumon Dhar

In the summer of my first year of college, I did an internship as a nursing attendant in a rehab hospital’s stroke unit.

As a premed student, I had little idea of what it meant to be a physician. But that didn’t stop me from feeling slightly superior to others who weren’t on the same path. Although

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George Saj

It happened one wintry night in 1965. I was in my third year of medical school during a rotation on the pulmonary service.

My supervising intern had been busy all evening admitting a dozen people in various stages of respiratory distress; they were suffering from ailments ranging from flu to double pneumonia.

It was my job to collect each patient’s sputum and culture it on a Petri dish, which would

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Out of This World

Katelyn Mohrbacher

When I met Jasper, I was a third-year medical student doing a nine-month rural clerkship, and he was an eighty-year-old man in a coma.

Family members surrounded Jasper–a tall, broad-shouldered man–as he lay in the hospital bed. His wife, Esther, a petite, lively woman also in her eighties, stood by his head, grasping the bed rail. At the foot of the bed stood their son, a middle-aged man with a baseball cap on

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Common Thread

Peter de Schweinitz

One sunny afternoon during my fourth year of medical school, I spent a day assisting a New Yorker turned rural Southern podiatrist. As we whittled dead skin, checked pulses and scheduled minor procedures, an arrogant question formed in my mind: Why did you choose the feet instead of something more impressive, like the heart? 

Maybe he read

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Cracking the Code

Zohar Lederman

I am a medical student in Pavia, Italy, doing my fifth year out of six. It is summertime, and, as I’ve done every summer for years, I’ve returned to my small hometown in the south of Israel. There, among other things, I volunteer as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with Magen David Adom, the Israeli Red Cross. 

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First, Do No Harm

Alison Block

It’s one of my earliest memories: I’m wrestling with my brother, and I’m losing, because I’m five and he’s seven, and he’s bigger and stronger than I am. So I bite him, hard.

Instantly I know I’ve crossed some sort of line, and I employ my most primitive defense mechanism, shouting out, “He bit me! Jon bit me!” I feel shame, because I am old enough to know it is wrong to hurt

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Benjamin Ostro with Boris D Veysman

Back when I was a premedical student, I didn’t devote much time to community service. I cared about helping others, and yet, feeling as driven as I did to excel in my academic and extracurricular commitments, I had little time for volunteering. 

It’s been my sense that most physicians don’t do much community

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Matthew Hirschtritt

Walking from an exam room to the nurse’s station in the small outpatient clinic where I worked as a second-year medical student, I paused by a window to gaze out at the winter sunset. After a moment, I looked down to scan the notebook where I kept my schedule and notes for my last patient of the

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On the Bottom Rung

Jordanna Platt

I was in my third year of medical school, and the initial week of my first-ever hospital clerkship had passed without incident. I showed up on time, did what I was told, stepped on no toes and followed my patients as well as I could. 

At the close of that week, however, my intern pulled me aside to ask, “Remember learning how to put an IV in a mannequin during the workshop earlier

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Little Lady

Samyukta Mullangi

Growing up, I was the one thought to be the most squeamish about medicine–the needles, the knives, the musty smell of alcohol swabs and the rusty stench of blood. Whenever my mother, an ob/gyn, talked on the phone with her patients about menstruation, cramps and bloating, I’d plug my ears and wish for death by embarrassment. Once, standing in line for a routine TB test, I had a friend pull up a chair

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Genuine Touch

Jonathan Gotfried

I was a medical student doing my fourth-year rotation on the oncology floor. The floor offered many new sights, and from the first, I was struck by the two mammoth massage chairs sitting in a corner at the end of the longest corridor. 

Their exaggerated curves were plastered with jet-black faux leather adorned with stitching details. Long, smooth armrests

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Medicine Land Celebrates a Birthday

Paul Gross

The first real patient of my medical career was a 60-year-old man in the surgical intensive care unit. I met him on the first day of the third year of medical school, when students join teams of doctors doing inpatient medicine.

The surgical team met at 7:00 am–a ludicrously early hour, I thought. There were nearly ten of us–four students, a couple of interns and senior residents and a chief resident.

As the

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