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The Masked Asian Psychiatrist

About three months ago, I had a Definitely Racist Interaction at work. A patient—we’ll call him Allan—said to me: “I’d like a white doctor. Is there a white doctor available?”

Allan’s voice was even, but his attitude was provocative, as if he were testing me. I felt a flash of fury, but kept my face expressionless. Presumably the surgical mask I wore also helped to hide my feelings.

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I Would Like to Call It Beauty

Gearing up for my night shift in the COVID-19 intensive-care unit, I don my personal protective equipment (PPE)–a white plastic air-purifying respirator (PAPR) hood. The hood connects via a tube to a large battery pack that I strap onto my waist over my scrubs. I turn on the battery and shiver when the rush of cool air blows past my ears. I walk into a bright white antechamber where a safety officer inspects me.

“You’re

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Saying the D-Word

It was late in the evening, and I was ready to start my night shift as an intern in the intensive-care unit. I sought out my fellow intern, who was finishing his shift, so that we could perform signout–the ritual of passing the patients’ information from one clinician to the next.
“Mrs. Klein in Bed 15 might go,” he whispered.
“Go? Go where?” I asked. “It’s 10 o’clock at night.”
“I mean she might go

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Living-Room Code

Living-Room Code

It was a cold Friday morning, and my day started slow. I was a third-year emergency-medicine resident in West Philadelphia and was doing my EMS rotation.
I rode with the EMS lieutenant, who told me, “My job is to assist the medics with the bad stuff.” This, he explained, usually meant codes (cardiac arrests) and fires.
Then we got the first call and zipped through the city, lights and sirens blaring.
Detachedly, I wondered what

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The Big Chill

The Big Chill

Tonight was yet another night on call in our emergency department–a chilly winter night on which I did a cruel deed: I discharged a homeless man back out into the cold.
This is a routine event in the life of psychiatry residents like myself. Normally, no one would bat an eye. It shouldn’t have mattered to me, either–except that the previous night I’d had to walk home from the hospital parking garage in decidedly adverse

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Exit Interview


Tamra Travers ~

“I’m graduating and leaving our clinic in June.”

Over and over again, in the months leading up to this transition, I break this news to my primary-care patients. I have developed many meaningful relationships with patients over my past three years of training as a family-medicine resident in a large, urban health center in Manhattan. But now it is time to leave and move on.

The fluorescent lights

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Eye-Opener

Daniel Lee ~

1. Bipolar disorder
2. History of postpartum psychosis
3. No custody of her children
4. In treatment for cocaine abuse
5. Regular smoker

I digest each of these facts on the computer screen in rapid succession, progressively cementing the picture of Renee Pryce, a twenty-eight-year-old woman in her final months of pregnancy.

I’m a first-year resident in a large urban county hospital. In the course of my training, I’ve

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On Being a Lady and a Doctor

Caitlin Bass ~

It’s 8:00 pm, and it’s hour fourteen in my twenty-eight-hour call shift at the large suburban hospital where I’m an intern.

You demand to speak with a doctor now, right now. You cannot wait. Your mother is sick, and you want to know exactly what is going on.

It doesn’t matter that we already spoke at length by phone earlier this afternoon. It doesn’t matter that it’s 8:00 pm.

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Deadlock

Zachary Reese ~

“Does a rock float on water?” I asked the haggard woman lying in the ICU bed.

I was an intern, in the first rotation of my medical residency, and Mrs. Jones had been my ICU team’s patient for the past week. Over that time, she’d looked more and more uncomfortable, constantly gesturing for her breathing tube to be removed.

Mrs. Jones tried to form words in response to

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Birthday Boy

Joe Andrie ~

It’s another day for me as an intern on the labor-and-delivery floor of my large urban hospital–another day scrambling to help pregnant women deliver and trying to keep pace with the unpredictable timetable of the birthing process.

My hospital phone rings. I’m really starting to dread that sound.

It’s the triage nurse. We’re admitting a patient: Mrs. Harris, age thirty-four, who’s had several prior deliveries and therefore carries the

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Cri de Coeur

Naderge Pierre ~

As a surgical resident nearing my final year of training, I loved to operate. Whenever I was on call in the trauma unit at our large urban teaching hospital in Washington, DC, I’d yearn for my pager to go off.

I was always tired, too–but for a surgical resident, fatigue is a given. Sleep and eat when you can, get your work done and operate like a madwoman: That

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Deathbed Epiphany

Christina Johnson

As a family-practice resident, I’ve found that a premium is placed not only on my clinical acumen but also on how well I respond to my patients’ mental and emotional experience of illness.

Yet the work of learning to be a doctor is just that–work. And in overwhelming amounts. Time management becomes ever more vital: As I take the time needed to gently break bad news and to console a patient,

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