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A Phony Heterosexual

In my first year as a premedical student at the University of Rochester, I began working as an EMT (emergency medical technician).

I enjoyed the work, but my interactions with patients were necessarily fast-paced and fleeting. In September of my senior year, I explored a different side of medicine by volunteering at a local hospice house; there, engaging with patients and hearing their stories over time was a critical element of care.

Among the hospice

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Code Switching: Gravel Against Stone

Editor’s Note: This piece was awarded an honorable mention in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

As a medical student, I have a habit of lowering my voice an extra octave when I speak with patients, preceptors or even my own primary-care physician. I like to imagine my voice as gravel grinding against stone, my raspy “whiskey voice” melting away any hint of my queer identity.

In these moments, I’m keenly aware of the

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No One Left to Save

“Do you want to call time of death?”

I stared up at my resident Hassan, shocked by his question. My stethoscope was still pressed to the elderly patient’s emaciated chest. Her agonal breaths, those last shallow breaths the body takes before death, had ceased. Only silence filled my ears.

Hassan smiled at me. I knew that he was offering this to me as a reward for all my hard work, but still, I was stunned.

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Disposable

As a third-year medical student, I was two weeks into my trauma-surgery rotation when my resident casually called me “disposable.” I wasn’t offended—in fact, the word perfectly described how I’d been feeling. I also understood that it was no reflection on my performance; rather, it was a commentary on medical students in general.

Surgery was the first rotation of my third year—and, now that the COVID pandemic was winding down, it was also my first

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Invisibly Different

Editor’s Note: This piece tied for first place in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

“That seems like a dumb way to die.”

“Why would anyone choose to do that to themselves?”

I hear my medical-school classmates pose these questions as we learn about how an acetaminophen overdose can cause painful, fatal damage to the liver. How each metabolite can tear apart a liver cell. How it takes hours or even days for the full extent of the overdose

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Letter to Myself as a Third-Year Medical Student

At most medical schools, the first two years are spent in lectures, labs and classroom learning. The third year is when students begin rotating on various clinical teams in the hospital and clinics, finally seeing patients as part of a large educational medical team. As I moved through pediatrics, ob/gyn, surgery and other core rotations during my third year, I took notes at the times when I felt out of place or discouraged.

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