Ana and I sat at that table for a few hours, enjoying each other’s company and stories told in choppy combinations of Spanish and English, some laughs of word-finding frustration spattered throughout. We talked about her daughter and grandson who lived with her, the colorful birds that were caged in her open-air courtyard, and the fact that I had come to Antigua from North Dakota to work with the God’s Child Project. As fond as I am of this memory, now that eight years have passed, I look back on my time in Guatemala with some degree of uncertainty about my intentions. I was what many would call a ‘voluntourist.’
Medical school is terrifying. This is not something I feel like I am supposed to admit — or let alone feel — because it conveys insecurity. For all the learning we compress into our days as students, we operate in a constant state of not knowing. Perhaps paradoxically so, uncertainty itself seems to be guiding us down the path laid before us. It is as if we are walking with our hands stretched out in front of us, groping in darkness. Every day, we face the unfamiliar, not just in terms of knowledge, but also the larger questions of whether we are turning down roads that feel true to us.
Facebook’s co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan just announced a 3 billion dollar donation to assemble a scientific ‘dream-team’ tasked with “eliminating, curing or preventing disease by the end of the century.” Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University and a scientific superstar, has been named president of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and top scientists such as Harold Varmus, former director of the National Cancer Institute and Nobel laureate, have been recruited to serve on the scientific advisory board. …
Earlier in the summer, I was speaking with a friend from medical school while we were studying for Step 1, the big test taken by medical students at the end of second year, and he remarked, “There’s really nothing quite like this. We probably don’t even realize how strange it is since we’re so ingrained in it.” He was right: the demands of medical school often make it an all-encompassing undertaking, one that can be difficult to explain to those outside it.
The interpersonal ease needed to establish trust between patient and provider might come easily to some, but is only the first barrier. As physicians and physicians-in-training, we ask patients to disclose uncomfortably thorough social and sexual histories which often go beyond the limits of our own experiences. Then we critique them, offering suggestions for risk reduction based on our medical expertise. In order to do this effectively, we are asked to know a lot about communities to which many of us are not members.
We began medical school orientation with several anonymous ice breakers. The idea was to learn more about the class’s demographics through a few clicker questions. Most were innocuous: are you in-state? Did you take a gap year? Were you a science major? They were standard questions in the boring small talk repertoire of medical school orientation. One question though, incited murmuring among students: How many of you came from households with six figure incomes?
Patient presentations are a strange sort of voyeurism. Though they resemble medical interviews in many ways — the history-taking, the assessment of emotional state and physical function — what was once a private interaction becomes a public play. What was once a conversation intended to benefit the patient becomes a performance to satisfy the curiosity of so many medical students.
Major sporting events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl are often surrounded with excitement and drama. This year’s Olympics in Brazil is buzzing with talk of the Zika virus. The Super Bowl was fraught with drama surrounding Beyoncé’s half-time performance. It seems like everyone has something to say about these topics. But, one thing spectators don’t talk about is an unseen drama that often surrounds major sporting events: sex trafficking.
In a recent article entitled “In Defense of Step 2 Clinical Skills,” Dr. Ken Simons, senior associate dean for graduate medical education and accreditation at the Medical College of Wisconsin, argues the current student-led campaign to end the USMLE Step 2 CS examination is misguided and potentially dangerous.
The topic of burnout is huge in today’s medical community. Multiple articles and studies have been published demonstrating that burnout is prevalent in all levels of medical training from the day-one medical student to the most senior practicing attending.
Ten male students crowded around a clean-shaven instructor who asked a series of questions. The students had meticulously prepared and would maintain close proximity to well-rehearsed answers. Hopefully the questions are simple, they thought. One by one, they answered, at times stumbling through their responses. This was expected. The students were learning and the incorrect answers allowed room for humility. Such a scene could easily describe an American teaching hospital, or, a Republican presidential debate.
Genomics has been having a field day with the press for the past couple years, and rightly so. New advances in the study of our genome have provided us with not just more information than we currently know what to do with, but also with new tools whose potential for the future seem to reach into the realms of science fiction. The possibilities and consequences of these new discoveries, from designer drugs to designer babies, has …