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The House Always Wins

Rashmi Kaura

Death. A five-letter word. The inevitable conclusion to our accomplishments, dreams, emotions and essence. Feared and ignored by the well, acknowledged and perhaps even welcomed by the ailing.

As physicians we are constantly gambling against this inevitability, playing the odds with our arsenal of diagnostics and therapeutics. Even when the odds against us grow longer, we forge ahead, bidding to prolong life through technology and wonder drugs.

Many times, staring into the tired,

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Affected

Jessica Tekla Les

During my third year of medical school I was performing a routine breast exam, more for practice than anything else. I was trying the concentric-circles-around-the-nipple technique, one of several I’d been taught. About halfway through the right breast I found a lima-bean-sized lump, not far from the breastbone. I took liberties with this particular exam. I poked the lump, tried to move the lump, squished down on the lump. 

I took such

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Broken

Jordan Grumet

I was a third-year medical student in the first week of my obstetrics rotation. The obstetrics program was known to be high-pressure, its residents among the best. Mostly women, they were a hard-core group–smart, efficient, motivated–and they scared the heck out of us medical students.

I remember the day clearly: Not only was I on call, but I was assigned to the chief resident’s team. I felt petrified. 

We’d started morning rounds as

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Dr. B Gets an F

Gregory Shumer

Flashback to a year ago: I’m a first-year medical student–a fledgling, a novice–trying to integrate countless facts into a coherent understanding of how the human body works. Professors slam me with two months’ worth of information inside of two weeks’ time. They tell us that this is a necessary process, one that all doctors must go through: we must first learn the science of medicine before we can master the art of healing.

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Trauma in the ER

Michael Gutierrez

It was 5 pm on a cold November day. I was a third-year medical student heading into my first night on surgery call.

Changing into my scrubs, I wondered what it would be like. I knew that we had to carry a “trauma pager” and, when paged, get to the ER as fast as possible. There my job would be to listen as the ER physician called out his exam findings and enter

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Pearls Before Swine

Kate Lewis

I’m a third-year medical student, and I’m starting the second day of my new rotation–a month that I’ll spend with a family physician, Dr. Bauer, in his small, efficient home-based office.

Yesterday, my first day, a young woman named Sara came in for “strep throat.” She had dark Latina eyes, broad cheekbones and a delicate tattoo of the Chinese character for “dream” on her left wrist. She was 17 and seeking out a

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May I Have Your Attention, Please?

Adam Phillip Stern

Some sentences should never be interrupted. 

“We have the results of your HIV test,” the attending physician had begun. But fate interrupted with a seemingly endless loudspeaker announcement:

“May I have your attention, please? Would the following patients please report to the nurse’s station for morning medications….”

Nothing about Benjamin’s story was ordinary. He had been voluntarily admitted to an inpatient psychiatry unit after reporting many symptoms of

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Looking for Respect

Ashrei Bayewitz

This may sound strange, but I secretly looked forward to my colonoscopy.

I was excited to see the people in the colonoscopy suite–the receptionists, the nurses and my doctor. I knew that they would like me, because I would be brave and respectful. That’s what’s always happened since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease ten years ago. During my multiple colonoscopies and countless doctor visits and other outpatient procedures, I invariably build up

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The Save

Dan J. Schmidt

I started medical school thinking I wanted to be a family doctor–someone who could work in a small town and deal with whatever walked through the door. But in our third year, when we received our first taste of clinical medicine, I found my surgery and ER rotations exciting. I was at our state’s major trauma center, and I loved it. Fixing things gives me a thrill–and the power to save a

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Heart to Heart

Janani Krishnaswami

I first met you in pre-op. It was my first week as a third-year medical student; my white coat was still white, the hidden interior pockets empty and the ten gel pens neatly tucked in my front pocket still leak-free. Stationed on a surgery rotation, I had officially spent twelve hours in the operating room–a frantic, exhausting blur of standing on tiptoe, gripping surgical retractors and struggling to avoid contaminating the sterile operating

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Wounded Messenger

Jean Howell

I pulled back the plunger, sucking lidocaine from the bottle into the syringe as I prepared to lance Jimmy’s abscess. A voice in my head kept repeating, like a mean-spirited parrot, that I’d never done this procedure before–not even under supervision, and certainly not by myself…

I’d met Jimmy two months earlier. He’d come into our clinic with a fever, shortness of breath, a horrible cough, and a crumpled paper photocopy of a

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little black boy

Jimmy Moss

little black boy
sit down.
fold your hands into your lap
and put your lap into order
now cry me a little song.
sing me a little note about me 
caring about what you care about,
then dream me a little dream.
and when your tears turn into
oases and exposed rivers
stand up
and pour me a little cup
fill it with every broken promise
and the unfulfilled moments of
belated birthdays

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