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Birth of a Hospice Nurse

Sara Conkle

The woman lying on the transport cot in the examination room was terrified. I could see it plainly in her eyes, but there was no time to stop and comfort her.

I was a young, recently graduated nurse in a busy urban emergency room, struggling to keep up with its daily array of shootings, stabbings and crises. ER nurses hustled. We dealt with life and death, and we did it quickly.

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Popping the Question

Mitch Kaminski

Mr. Dwyer isn’t my patient, but today I’m covering for my partner in our family-practice office, so he’s been slipped into my schedule.

Reading his chart, I have an ominous feeling that this visit won’t be simple.

A tall, lanky man with an air of quiet dignity, Mr. Dwyer is eighty-eight. His legs are swollen, and merely talking makes him short of breath.

He suffers from both congestive heart failure

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Teaching the Wound

Joanne M. Clarkson

                    For LS

Assume pain, I tell them, the young, the
minimum-waged, those who work the midnight
shift with no chance for stars. We lean
over the bed of a 93-year-old man with advanced
Parkinson’s disease. His face is
frozen, even his eyes don’t seem to move
unless you watch the sheen. These

student aides are

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Continuing Education

H. Lee Kagan

The nasogastric tube was killing me. It had been in place for twelve hours now, threading its way up my nose and down my throat, past my esophagus, into my stomach. Try as I might, I couldn’t swallow away the nasty lump stuck to the back of my throat. And every time I tried, it hurt.

Decades before, as a physician-in-training in upstate New York, I’d put in more nasogastric (NG) tubes

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Solitary Confinement

Stewart Decker

 I’ve made a huge mistake, I thought.

The fever had come back. The fever had come back, and I was stuck on a bus. The first of five buses, actually….

I am a fourth-year medical student at the University of Minnesota, but right now I’m a long way from home. I am spending a year in South America, studying international public-health issues by working in emergency rooms, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), social projects and

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The Calling

Lawrence Dyche

I am a non-physician who teaches physicians. A clinical social worker by training, I help doctors learn to be more compassionate and skilled in their human interactions. I sit in with residents as they see their patients. I help them to become better listeners, I remind them that as they touch the body they also touch the soul, I emphasize the enormity of witnessing. And after two decades of doing this work with

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Adam

Genevieve Yates

I tried to focus on the chart in front of me, but it may as well have been written in Russian. I’d been awake for thirty-two hours, and my brain, thick with fatigue, refused to cooperate. I knew I shouldn’t be working, but I was too proud, too stubborn, too something to admit that I wasn’t coping. 

On the first day of my neurosurgical rotation, the resident I was replacing had told me, “Ten-to-fourteen-hour days,

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