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At Three O’Clock

Running to make my Tuesday biopsy appointment, I tripped, landing viciously on my hands and knees at the corner of Madison Avenue and 79th. Embarrassed, I was helped up by a gray-haired lady in her eighties. For an instant, I wondered if I’d get to be her age.

Walking into the clinic, I saw my husband, who’d insisted on meeting me there. My beige pants were slightly ripped and bloodstained, my knees tingling and smarting.

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Greetings and Salutations

Greetings and Salutations

I have seen tribesmen in the West African country of Mali meet each other on a narrow dirt path and stop to spend several minutes chanting highly scripted greetings. When they part, shortly afterwards, there is an equally elaborate farewell.

As a psychiatrist and medical educator, I’ve seen my colleagues carrying out a parallel ritual: Two doctors hurriedly passing each other in a hospital hallway and cheerily but tersely saying, “How are you?”–neither

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The Magic Touch

Betsy Willis ~

Many months have passed since the spring day when I was hit with the news from my yearly mammogram, but those typewritten words are forever etched in my memory: “The density appears greater in left breast.”

My doctor comforted me with statistics showing that mammograms aren’t 100 percent accurate–but she also lost no time in sending me to a surgeon, Dr. Prewitt. Upon meeting him, I immediately felt sure that

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Dianne Silvestri ~

The corridors seethe with nocturnal predators,
their voices low.

My door latch coughs, a figure hisses,
I’ve come to draw blood,

wrenches my arm like a lamb shank,
rasps it with alcohol, plunges her spike,

pops one after another color-coded
rubber-stoppered vial into the sheath,

unplugs each loaded one to add
to the crimson log pile weighting my thigh,

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She Likes Chocolate

Nadine Semer ~

“She doesn’t like vanilla,” Mr. Wyatt says, staring at the nutritional drinks sitting on his wife’s bedside hospital table.

I’m here as the palliative-medicine consultant. As my resident Susan and I stand still, taken aback, Susan’s expression says it all: She’s dying, and her husband is worried about which flavors she likes?

Mrs. Wyatt, fifty-six, came to our urban hospital’s emergency room with abdominal pain. She was admitted and

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Matching Rings

Joy Liu

The room is stuffy, but the woman is shivering.

Her husband stands by her bedside. An interpreter that they’ve hired to stay with her day and night stands at the foot of the bed. And then there’s me, the doctor (I’m an intern), waiting to deliver one of many sad speeches I must give today.

Smiling wanly, she struggles into a sitting position and shakes my hand.

Even with

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Just Middlin’

Alexandra Godfrey

My dad was once a physician for the coal mines in Yorkshire, England, where I grew up. It’s been decades since I accompanied him on his rounds, and fifteen years since I moved to the States and began to practice as a physician assistant in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. But I still vividly recall my childhood days and the Yorkshire dialect we spoke.

Somehow, the seventy-three-year-old woman sitting in

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A Second Chance

Mitch Kaminski

My patient Maria sits before me, looking vaguely distressed.

She’s returned for a follow-up visit, six weeks after our first. The morning is half over, and I’m clipping along, staying on time, using the new electronic medical record system (EMR) without a glitch and with a sense of satisfaction. Three months back, when I joined this small-town practice as part of my new position as a health-system medical director, I found the EMR

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Paul Rousseau

“I want everything done. Please, Dr. Rousseau, do everything. We have two children–they can’t be without their father. Do you understand? Do what it takes to keep him alive!”

Angie, a petite woman with long blonde hair, fixes me with piercing blue eyes. Her husband, Joe, fifty-two, has scleroderma, an autoimmune disease. In its most devastating form, it hardens the skin and destroys the kidneys, heart and lungs.

Joe is

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Audrey Cortez

Years ago I worked as a registered nurse in a busy surgical pre-admission clinic, preparing patients who’d been scheduled for surgery for the upcoming operation and hospital experience.

My workdays were packed with back-to-back, hour-long appointments. Whatever surgery the patient was facing–oral, orthopedic or anything else–every interview followed the same format. I would greet the patient, who’d often bring along a family member, and quickly escort them both into my small

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Nothing to Hide

Kevin Dorsey

About thirty years ago, after I’d completed my internal medicine residency and a rheumatology fellowship, my wife and I moved with our three-year-old son to my wife’s hometown. 

There I joined a multispecialty group practice as the second rheumatologist. Over time, the plan was for me to build a rheumatology practice, but while that was happening I took on all kinds of patients, both primary-care and intensive-care. I felt very comfortable doing general

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July Intern–Taking Off My New White Coat

Heustein Sy

I became a doctor of internal medicine in my home country, the Philippines, in 2005. The following year, I immigrated to the United States. In order to practice medicine here, I must complete one more journey–a three-year medical residency in the U.S.

My first week at the hospital has been a hectic blur–one task right after another. I’ve been existing on minimal amounts of sleep, food and social contact and maximum amounts of

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