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Dear Worried Mother

I can’t stop thinking about you.

Last night, at about midnight, the phone aroused me from my happy slumber. It was Vance, the on-call resident, needing advice from me, as the supervising physician, on how to help a worried mother—you—who’d called our family health center’s after-hours service about your daughter’s worsening asthma.

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Paying It Forward

Caroline Wellbery

In the middle of a five-way thoroughfare intersection, with the early-morning sun’s glare on my windshield, I hit the curb of the median and blew out my left front tire. Amid stopped traffic, I ran to collect my escaped hubcap, whose silver eye stared helplessly from among the automotive debris of previous accidents.

A policeman blocked the lanes until I could pilot my car into the gas station on the other

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A Conversation About Race, Fear and Connection

Paul Gross

In the wake of recent events, many speak about the need for conversations about race. In our country, the implications of race are a moral issue, a humanitarian issue, a justice issue and, yes, a medical issue. (One need only examine how racial categorization affects rates of death.) But what would this conversation about race look like?

Today, Pulse’s editor provides one offering. In August, we’ll invite all Pulse readers to join

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What Money Can Buy

Hind Almazeedi

Arwa arrives late to the clinic. Her husband is parked outside waiting for her.

“You missed your last two appointments,” I say, checking her records. It’s been four months.

“I didn’t have a ride,” she shrugs.

Many of my patients live close to the primary-care center in Kuwait where I work as a family physician, but the desert heat makes it impossible to come here on foot. Two minutes

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Raymond Abbott            

Donald Wyatt. I have written of him before and did not plan to write about him again. Then, just today, something happened.

I was slated to meet him at the usual place. We’ve been having lunch together once a month for more than seven years. Not coincidentally, it’s been exactly that many

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Finding a Bed in Bedlam

Jo Marie Reilly

There’s a full moon tonight.

“That’s when crazy things happen,” my superstitious mom always says.

I’m a family physician doing weekend call at my urban community hospital. My pager rings incessantly. As I answer yet another call from the emergency room downstairs, I think, Maybe Mom has a point.

“Got a suicidal patient with nowhere to go,” the ER physician yells into the phone, against the background commotion.

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Jerry Stockton



Jonathan Stockton

About the contributor: 

Jonathan is completing his MFA in photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He photographs in areas where communities form around addiction and documents how these communities change over time. His thesis show will be on view May 11-23 at MassArt’s Bakalar Gallery in Boston,

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Broken Promise Giftos

Broken Promise


Jonathan Giftos

About the artist: 

“I work as a primary care doctor at a clinic in the South Bronx. I believe it is part of my job, as a doctor, to advocate for my patients’ health both inside the exam room and out on the streets. I have enjoyed taking

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Bitter Medicine

Karen Libertoff Harrington

As a medical educator in a hospital setting, I often tell first-year medical students about disparities in health care and about the vastly different quality of care that hospitals deliver, depending on their resources. 

I tell my students how important it is to advocate for patients, to learn to navigate the healthcare system and to work respectfully with health professionals in order to get

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An Orphan’s Tale

Peter Ferrarone

At the outset, I confess that I have no experience in the medical field. I’m not a doctor or a nurse; I’m a recent college graduate, a writer and someone who’s interested in the world. And, all last summer, I was a volunteer in Uganda. 

I’d met a Ugandan priest who was visiting the States on a

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Finding a Way Home

Erin Imler

Preparing to assemble my new bed, I open the wordless instruction manual. The first page shows a picture of a single stick-figure standing there, hands on hips, and sadly regarding a bungled, not-put-together bed; the next image is two happy-looking stick-figures standing with their arms around each others’ shoulders, looking at a successfully constructed bed.
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little black boy

Jimmy Moss

little black boy
sit down.
fold your hands into your lap
and put your lap into order
now cry me a little song.
sing me a little note about me 
caring about what you care about,
then dream me a little dream.
and when your tears turn into
oases and exposed rivers
stand up
and pour me a little cup
fill it with every broken promise
and the unfulfilled moments of
belated birthdays

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