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First Cadaver

He presses the Sawzall to

her chest, slices skin to bone.
This unzipping of skin does
not stop our breaths–we’re used to

invasion of the body,
the way his fingers pinch
into her pockets as though
for a cloth or a quarter.

Grasping bone ends, he spreads
her pinkish ribs, not breaking
a sweat, to find what he’s come
for: such a

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The Emaciated Infant

Paula Lyons

The police had been called to the house by a neighbor who said she heard children crying and hadn’t seen the mother in two days. It was the middle of a night in July, and the children’s wails would have traveled through the project windows left open to catch cooling breezes.

Paramedics provided transport to the hospital, but the normally cynical and well-defended police were so outraged that they also came to

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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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Tug-of-War

Jo Marie Reilly

As I teach first- and second-year medical students to take patient histories and to perform physical examinations, I always feel humbled and privileged–energized by their compassion, enthusiasm and facile, curious minds.

Occasionally, I feel particularly challenged–especially when I’m teaching a student who, though bright, is struggling to acquire some of medicine’s basic skills. As we journey up the learning curve together, my responsibilities can conflict: as a teacher, I want to

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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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Each Day, Same Story

Jennifer Reckrey

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Reckrey is a family medicine resident in New York City. Each week, while she was an intern, she recorded some of her experiences as a brand-new doctor.

I have been his primary doctor for the entire three weeks he has been on the hospital floor. Sometimes he drives me crazy. Once or twice I’ve asked my senior resident to take over for a bit so I can hide out, catch

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Breaking Bad News

Paul Gross

Bad news is like a lump of red-hot coal that lands in your palm–and that you can’t let go of, no matter how badly you’d like to.

I was tossed the burning coal over twenty years ago, when I was thirty years old and fit as a fiddle. Or so I thought. I also happened to be a first-year medical student, having my head filled with facts large and small about the human

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