© 2020 Pulse - Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved.
How many times have I tried to begin writing about my experience of stress and burnout?
I’ve lost count.
Each time I begin to write, detachment renders me into pieces like a jigsaw puzzle. Where are the straight edges? Where is the frame? What is supposed to be where all of these empty spaces are?
Exhalations materialize in the dark as I walk
from the empty parking deck. I brew coffee,
then print a list–our census is up to thirty.
I grab my coat and start seeing patients:
the gastric bypasses, the nine ex-laps,
the psychotic panniculectomy patient,
and the bowel obstruction we are watching.
I page just before six to ask about his diet,
but you don’t answer me,
Sudeep Dhoj Thapa
It was a summer night during my first year of medical school. Small bugs danced about the school buildings’ lights and filled the air with their penetrating hum.
In the television room, located across a small grassy lawn from the dormitories, I sat watching old movies with my classmate and friend Rajesh.
Rajesh was tall and chunky. He wore his thick, jet-black hair combed
The supervisor called, she’s pulling Noel to Peds,
Where, she says, they’ve got really pressing needs.
And Nadia, poor girl, must float to 12 East,
To face the scourge of the adult med-surg beast.
Though the administrators won’t admit to a nursing shortage,
When the census hits the rapids, they attempt this portage.
So here in our
“Mouse bite, one year ago” read the Chief Complaint entry on the chart I picked up from the “nonurgent” pile.
I was a second-year medical resident, on an eight-week stint in the Temple University Hospital emergency room. It was 3:50 am, the beginning of the end of the night shift. All hell could still break loose before my shift ended, but for now we were in a lull, and the less serious cases
True difficulty lies not
In school, or staying involved,
Or scoring well on tests.
Time and dedication are mandatory.
Everyone can distinguish black from white,
And everyone can sculpt something from clay.
But being able to paint the empty spaces with color,
Fill the cracks with laughter and passion and spirit–
Such an art is easily forgotten,
Or easily ignored.
Rhodopsin alone could suffice for reading resumes,
One thing I love deeply about being a family doctor is that I get to take care of people–body and soul. A patient comes into my exam room with a litany of physical symptoms (“My shoulder…my knee…my stomach…so tired…this nausea…”) and then, in response to a questioning look, suddenly bursts into tears.
It’s all mine to deal with. The shoulder. The stomach. The tears. I get to gather the pieces and see if