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July Intern–Taking Off My New White Coat

Heustein Sy

I became a doctor of internal medicine in my home country, the Philippines, in 2005. The following year, I immigrated to the United States. In order to practice medicine here, I must complete one more journey–a three-year medical residency in the U.S.

My first week at the hospital has been a hectic blur–one task right after another. I’ve been existing on minimal amounts of sleep, food and social contact and maximum amounts of

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Stepping Into Power, Shedding Your White Coat: Donald Berwick’s Graduation Address

Donald Berwick

Editor’s Note: Donald Berwick, recent Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Obama Administration, and a founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, gave this speech at his daughter’s graduation from Yale Medical School on May 24, 2010.

Dean Alpern, Faculty, Families, Friends and Honored Graduates…

I don’t have words enough to express my gratitude for the chance to speak with you on your special day. It would be

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The Silent Treatment

Frances Smalkowski

Last year, while enjoying a two-week tour of the cultural capitals of China, I was amazed by how at home I felt. Searching my memory for the reasons behind this unexpected state of mind, I suddenly remembered Mr. Loy.

We met more than forty years ago. I was in my third year as a nursing student, doing a semester-long rotation in a large psychiatric hospital. Each student was assigned a patient for the

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Witnessing Consent for an Autopsy

Patty Bertheaud Summerhays

“They just cut the abdomen like an operation, look in and sew him up. No one will know.”

I know the inside story–the body parts,
the heart, brain, liver, lungs,
kidney, spleen, bowel, and bladder
sliced on a cutting board
like loaves of bread.
The coroner donning a butcher’s apron
splattered with blood from the last
scrape of blade over bone,
slipping off the scalp like a mask.
The eyes stopping him 

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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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Kevin Koo

I started my third year of medical school as a surgery clerk. 

With this eight-week clerkship came a flood of conflicting advice from older, wiser peers: “Ask a lot of questions, but speak only when spoken to.” “Offer to help, but stay out of the way.” “Be friendly and likeable, but not too friendly–or too likeable.” For the medical student, such is the mystique of the OR.

Three weeks into my general surgery

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The End of Nice

Rosalind Kaplan

“Mouse bite, one year ago” read the Chief Complaint entry on the chart I picked up from the “nonurgent” pile.

I was a second-year medical resident, on an eight-week stint in the Temple University Hospital emergency room. It was 3:50 am, the beginning of the end of the night shift. All hell could still break loose before my shift ended, but for now we were in a lull, and the less serious cases

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Hospital Corners

Eileen Valinoti

“And now, as we finish up, we’ll need to put our blankets away. I want you to fold them like this,” announced my yoga teacher–a bit sternly, I thought. With swift, deft hands, she began to demonstrate. Something in the tone of her voice and the sharp jut of her chin brought me back to Miss Coyle…

Miss Mary Coyle RN was the nursing arts instructor in my first year of training, more

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The Irony of Being a Student

Cole Sterling

True difficulty lies not
           In school, or staying involved,
           Or scoring well on tests.
Time and dedication are mandatory.
Everyone can distinguish black from white,
And everyone can sculpt something from clay.
           But being able to paint the empty spaces with color,
           Fill the cracks with laughter and passion and spirit–
           Such an art is easily forgotten,
           Or easily ignored.
Rhodopsin alone could suffice for reading resumes,
So why

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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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A Passage in India

Justin Sanders

“It’s cooler this morning,” I said to Seema, as we left the hospital grounds en route to our home visits.

It was a bright and bustling morning in Trivandrum, the capital of India’s southwesternmost state, Kerala. A third-year resident in family medicine, I had come here to work with the staff of an Indian nonprofit devoted to advancing palliative care services across India. Seema was a young, newly qualified junior doctor who had

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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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