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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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Pained

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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One Hundred Wiser

Anne K. Merritt

I gather my belongings: stained white coat, stethoscope, pen light, black ballpoint. I stuff the last two granola bars into my canvas bag. I glance at the clock on the microwave, which is three minutes fast. 

Twenty-two minutes until my shift begins. One minute before I will lock the door to my apartment. 

Precision is critical: ER shifts change fast and blend together, from late nights to early mornings to mid-afternoons. Suns

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Lost in the Numbers

Donald Stewart

A nurse entered the operating room; her eyes–the only part of her face visible above her surgical mask–held a look of mild distress. She stood quietly until the surgeon noticed her.

“What is it?” he said.

“It’s your patient in 208, Doctor. His pressure is 82.”

“Systolic?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

The nurse was referring to Mr. Johnson. The previous week, we’d removed a small tumor from his lung without difficulty–and, until now, without complications.

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Stuck

Ken Gordon

I have never told this story to anyone.

It all started one night about ten years ago, three months into my internship. I was on call, having just admitted a man with a possible meningitis.

He now lay curled up in fetal position on the bed in front of me, looking thin and ill. Preparing to administer a lumbar puncture (a diagnostic test that involves removing fluid from the spinal canal), I gently

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The University Hospital of Somewhere Else

Paula Lyons

July 1. My first day as a family medicine intern, assigned to Labor and Delivery, and my first night on call, 6 pm sharp. Enviously, I watched the other interns smartly packing up to go home.

“See you in the morning–maybe!” they joked.

I glanced at the status board: eight patients in labor.

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An Intern’s Guilt

Anna Kaltsas

“She’s been here for two months already. She’s very complicated; you’re going to be spending a lot of time with her and her family,” my fellow intern said as she began signing out her patients to me. 

It was my first rotation in the medical intensive care unit, and I was terrified. I was in my first few months as a “real” practicing physician–a title that I still felt uncomfortable with. If a

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Help Me

Jennifer Reckrey

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Reckrey kept a weekly journal of her experiences during her intern year.


Week 13

I had a few free minutes at the end of my clinic session this past Thursday morning, so I took over a walk-in patient from an overbooked colleague.

The patient was a large, muscular Salvadoran man in his early forties who had long-standing hypertension. He said that for the

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