Sunrise on the psych unit. A tentative, yawning flicker, a wash of tired fluorescence, and the hallway shudders to life—or something approximating life anyway.
Delirium is a bread-and-butter presentation. The differential writes itself — stroke, infection, intoxication, electrolyte imbalances, shock, organ failure. The intellectual exercise this invites was practically invented for medical students, even if the final diagnosis (dehydration secondary to gastroenteritis) and its treatment (fluids) were relatively mundane.
The considerations in choosing a specialty are multiple. There are matters of lifestyle and compensation, of competitiveness and rigor. There is the push-and-pull of breadth versus depth, of procedure versus prose.
The white coats and patient gowns that confer the implicit power dynamic of the physician-patient relationship are not to be found here in the operating room. This place has neither the tolerance nor the patience for this subtle symbolism. Here, on the other side of the Rubicon, the rules are stark, the stakes laid bare. The patient lies naked on the table, arms extended on boards, Christ-like, as the surgeon holds the knife handle and plays God.
Despite its omnipresence, Time seemed to be in reliably short supply throughout the year. I keenly felt its absence: less time to cook and clean. Less time to exercise; less time to date. Less time to read and to write.
It has been a little over two years since Kaitlyn Elkins, a second-year medical student at Wake Forest, took her own life. Her death stunned friends and family, who had been largely unaware of her protracted struggle with depression that was ultimately revealed in her suicide note. Kaitlyn’s mother, Rhonda Elkins, dedicated herself relentlessly to advocating for mental health awareness before succumbing to her own grief, committing suicide one year later.
Your neck muscles heaved as you sucked in air through pursed lips. Pink puffer, I thought immediately, to my shame. That wasn’t why I was here.
A torrential thunderstorm forced nearly the entire homeless population of Tampa Heights out from under their tents and awnings in favor of the more generous cover of a highway overpass. It was the closest Tampa had come to a publicly funded homeless shelter.
It has been one month since ringing in the New Year, and already, the United States has racked up more cases of measles than it usually sees in an entire year. The current outbreak, thought to have originated in Disneyland, has expanded to at least 14 states and affected more than 100 patients. Last year, there were 644 reported cases of measles, more than the entire preceding 5-year period combined.
Challah bread is traditionally prepared for Jewish holidays and the Sabbath. We made ours on a Wednesday night. Helen and Marie stare warily from their wheelchairs as a dozen medical students file into the retirement home lounge, toting tubs of flour and challah dough. “We’re not playing bingo?” Helen asks, looking disappointed, as students and octogenarians begin matching up for the evening.
Kaitlyn Elkins was a medical student at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina and a member of the Class of 2015. She excelled academically, named the valedictorian of her high school class and graduating summa cum laude from Campbell University. She wrote poetry in her free time. She had a cat, lovingly named Gatito. On April 11, 2013, just weeks before beginning her clinical rotations, Kaitlyn Elkins took her own life. She left …
Mr. Lacey was irate, to say the least, as he rattled off a list of his symptoms. Constant pain. Nausea. Dizziness. Numbness. Weakness. Fatigue bordering on exhaustion. He said he had been spending most of the day in bed and had become dependent on his wife and children for basic daily tasks. “I’m serious, Doc. I’ve just about had enough of this. I’ve been looking into Hemlock Societies.” The interview screeched to a halt, and …