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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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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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Now a lightness

4:57 am, Sunday

This week went
from caring with hope 
for a lucid patient to facing 
reality in advocating sanity 
to an insane extended 
family to haggling with specialists
to giving up time
and again telling Mary 
she was dying and then watching
her cling to her lost life like
everyone else to 
finally withdrawing all care
except for comfort 
and comforting the now lucid family 
while the breaths became 
distant
and the pauses

prolonged

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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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Brain Cutting

Emma Samelson-Jones

The page came to my resident, who grinned and looked over at me, his hovering medical student. “You should go to this.”

I looked down at the pager.

“Brain Cutting. 2:30 PM. Room B157.” 

Text pagers are the indifferent bearers of all news. Emergencies–“Smith, BP 60/30, Room L721”–appear in the same font as messages seemingly borrowed from a teenager’s cell phone: “OMG, the harpist in the hospital lobby is playing ‘My heart will

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Miscarriage

Jessica Bloom-Foster

From the moment I walk into the room, she breaks my heart. She has just been sent to obstetrical triage from the ER, where an ultrasound has revealed a twenty-two-week pregnancy and a cervix dilated to four centimeters–halfway to delivery stage. She is moaning from her labor pains and moving restlessly on the narrow cot.

I am a second-year family medicine resident in a Midwestern hospital, and well past halfway through a busy

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Intern’s Journal–Surprises

Jennifer Reckrey

Editor’s note: Jennifer Reckrey is a family medicine resident in New York City. Each week while she was an intern, Dr. Reckrey recorded some of her experiences as a brand-new doctor. Today’s stories are from weeks number nine and twenty-five.

Week Nine

I dreaded my rotation in the Intensive Care Unit. Though all the tools to keep a body alive are right there, their continuous bells and beeps jangle my nerves. I’m

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