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Extracurriculars

Extracurriculars

If harsh words fall, but no patient is around to hear them, do they make a sound?
This particular night on my trauma-surgery rotation as a fourth-year medical student, the question weighs heavily as a page alerts the team that a patient with multiple gunshot wounds will arrive in ten minutes.
Everyone’s kind of excited. Anxious, too. Jittery.
1:00 am. Down in the ED, the main actors stand masked, gowned and ready to go. ED

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Code Pink

Code Pink

When a code is called in the hospital, it means two things: A caregiver’s day is about to be turned upside-down, and a patient’s world is about to fall to pieces. If you’re a caregiver, when a code is called you look up from your own work and wonder who’ll be sprinting through the halls and whose story is unfolding.

This time, the story was ours.

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Mommy Chuy

Mommy Chuy

Mrs. Hernandez is a ninety-two-year-old Spanish-speaking woman, originally from Mexico, with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, who arrived in the emergency department of the hospital where I’m a fourth-year medical student.

Her right arm and leg were weak, the right side of her face drooped; her speech was slurred, and she seemed confused. Her CT scans showed that a blood clot had blocked her middle cerebral artery, in the area of the brain

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An Ounce of Empathy

An Ounce of Empathy

I am a medical student in my third year of studies. For medical students, this is the point at which, after two years of book learning, we rotate through hospital clerkships that give us our first experience of delivering hands-on care to inpatients.

Earlier in the year (it feels like many lifetimes ago), I read that COVID-19 was “just the flu.” We heard from scientific sources and popular media that other maladies were much

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Vision Quest

After finishing my third-year clinical rotations in medical school, I was feeling sleep-deprived and stressed out. The problem, I finally realized, was the ridiculous amount of pressure I’d put on myself to impress my attending physicians and get good grades.

My father is an ophthalmologist and cornea/cataract specialist. After routinely rejecting his career advice throughout my undergraduate years, I’d entered medical school–and, to my father’s delight, found myself increasingly fascinated by his field.

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Sounding the Alarm

Sounding the Alarm

For most medical students, the fourth year is a time of coming into our own. We’ve completed our clinical clerkships, passed our first board exam and begun applying to residencies in our hoped-for specialties.
We also get our first taste of independence as clinicians.
During special rotations called subinternships, we act as patients’ primary-care providers. Under the supervision of an attending physician, we examine patients, write orders for tests and medications and make decisions on

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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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Being There

Being There

Question: What is the most read book in a psychiatric ward?

Answer:
Based on my observations, it’s the Christian Bible. During my psychiatry rotation in the third year of medical school, I saw so many patients researching, reading and preaching the word of God. Clearly, in those pages they found something they needed: vengeance against those who’d wronged them, a secret prophecy, confirmation of their sanity. Or maybe they saw the central message:

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First Time, Last Time

“Deeper compressions! Deeper! Make sure you get that recoil!”

I push harder and lift off higher. I’m starting to sweat. My stethoscope is banging around my neck. I should have taken it off, I think. My hair is flying around my face. I should have tied it up. I’m on tiptoe; my legs are cramping. I should have stood on a step stool.

“All right, she’s getting tired. Next!”

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Unexpected

Christine Loftis ~

“You’re twenty-seven-and-a-half weeks pregnant.”

As I lay on the exam table, time froze.

How can this be? I wondered dazedly. I’m a second-year medical student. I’ve just completed a course in female reproduction and endocrinology. How could I have missed the signs?

I attribute my obliviousness to the surgery I’d gone through only months before: the removal of a twenty-seven-pound, mucus-filled ovarian cyst. My lack of menstrual periods

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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 next month. His

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