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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.

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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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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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