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The Secret

Gabriel Foster

“If my father dies, you’re going down with him.”

The words pierced the air, and suddenly there was silence.

I hadn’t noticed Frank’s son at first. He’d been pacing in the back of the family group gathered in our ICU waiting room. Now, up close, I could appreciate how large and intimidating he was. And I’d just had the thankless job of telling him, along with the rest of his

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No Retakes

I was midway through my internal medicine internship when elderly Mrs. Armstrong was transferred to our service for treatment of a pulmonary embolus (aka PE–a blood clot in the lungs) after a knee fracture repair. I remember thinking, disparagingly, “Surgeons should be able to treat a PE!”

The following morning, our team rounded on our patients and hurriedly wrote orders and notes because Susan, my senior resident, and I would be in clinic all afternoon.

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It Doesn’t Work That Way

My second month of residency. My first solo thoracentesis–a procedure to remove fluid around the lung. The supervising physician I’d just met watches over my shoulder as I carefully count and percuss the rib, fasten the drape in place, gown, glove, and cleaned off the skin.
Infiltrate with lidocaine…good. Thread the catheter into the trochar…good. Attach the stopcock…good. Make sure it’s open in the right direction. Puncture the skin, pull back on the syringe,

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2:00 am

Katie Lin

It’s 2:00 am, and the fluorescent bulbs flicker gently overhead along the quiet hallways of the intensive-care unit.

Tonight I’m the ICU resident on call, and the weight of that title sits heavily on my shoulders. My team is in charge of keeping our critically ill patients safe from harm overnight. Although the supervising physician is only a phone call away, I’m the acting team lead for any codes called during

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Lost in the Hospital

Christine Henneberg

It’s easy to get lost in the hospital. I’m only an intern, and already I know it like the hallways of my old high school, every doorway and doorknob. But overnight, as I float between the floors and the units, answering pages, I quickly lose track of where I am, what time it is, what day it is.

I am vaguely aware that I’m on the fifth floor, the top floor

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No Crying

Riddhi Shah

“There’s no crying in baseball!”

Over the years, my fellow surgery residents and I heard these words shouted countless times by Dr. Norris, a cantankerous elderly surgeon with whom we had the dubious pleasure of working.

Dr. Norris was a former Navy ship surgeon. He didn’t operate much anymore, but he fondly remembered the “good old days” when trainees spent days on end in the hospital. The phrase emerged whenever he

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After the Flood: Remembering Sandy

Lois Isaksen

Oct. 29, 2012

We’d just received word: within hours, Hurricane Sandy would hit New York City. As an emergency-medicine resident at NYU/Bellevue Hospital Center, I was working as fast as I could–examining patients, suturing wounds, setting bones, running families to the hospital pharmacy before it closed.

The lights flickered once, but I did not take it as the omen it was.

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What We Carry

Sandra Miller

When I was an intern, we carried everything.
We carried manuals and little personal notebooks, frayed and torn,
crammed with tiny bits of wisdom passed on by a senior or attending.
Yet when a midnight patient rolled in with a myocardial infarction
we didn’t look anything up because there were only four drugs we could use:
morphine for the crushing pain,
nitroglycerin to flush open the vessels,

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Note to My Patient

Sarah Stumbar

You might be surprised to know that I’m lying here in bed still thinking of you two weeks after you’ve died.

During the month that I watched you die, I often wondered what it felt like to be you, with your deep, husky voice, rounded belly and stubborn anger. You’d once owned your own mechanic shop; now you were sitting here in a hospital bed, staring up at the medical team as we

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Healing Words

Gretchen Winter

As a physician-in-training, I find joy in helping to ease pain and occasionally cure illness. But I often find my greatest sense of purpose in helping patients to heal emotionally, whether by allaying a patient’s fears, addressing a lingering concern or lending a listening ear.

Having majored in communications in college, I’d assumed that the patient-physician relationship would be the easy part of medicine. I’ve learned, though, that getting it right isn’t always

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Heroic Measures

Gil Beall

“Doctor! Doctor! He’s stopped breathing!” the stout woman shouted, clutching at my white coat. 

It was 1953, and I was a first-year resident responsible that night for the patients on the medical ward–including those in the four-bed room the woman pushed me into. 

There I saw a melee taking place around a seventy-year-old man with chronic lung disease. 

The man had been examined and admitted that evening by my colleague, who’d given me

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Remya Tharackal Ravindran

The light from my pen torch strikes the steel-blue eyes of the patient lying before me. Her pupils stand wide open and still.

My pager’s shrilling pierces the quiet. Fumbling with the buttons, I read the message: “Call 7546 STAT.”

It’s my first rotation on the floor as a new internal medicine resident. I dial the

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