Tag: death

Aleksandra Bacewicz Aleksandra Bacewicz (6 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine

I am currently a fourth year medical student in the SELECT Program at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. With a background in Spanish Literature and Public Health, I am interested in the intersection of medicine and the humanities. I have a particular interest in the understanding of disease through the lens of psychosocial issues, the correctional healthcare system, and underserved populations. I am passionate about observing and writing about medical culture, and how we, as patients and providers, experience it.

A Life in a Day

It can be difficult to fully appreciate the events that transpire on a busy transplant surgery service, and as a fledgling third year student on my first rotation, I’d often find myself in stimulus overload — like a five year old who stops to look at every flower on a walk with their parents.

My Grandpa’s Socks

Whenever I go to the hospital, I wear my grandpa’s socks. They looked distinguished on an older man, but a little childish on a me, a 25-year-old medical student. I’m okay with that. Feeling like an overdressed kid on Easter helps to balance the overwhelming pressure of becoming a physician.

On Doctors, Death and Dignity in Sharing Our Stories

We huddled around in a circle. Some rubbing our necks, some touching our wrists, and some listening with tears streaming down our faces. It was a room of physicians and physicians-in-training, listening as one resident shared her story of watching her patient pass away when she ran a code for the first time. At the conclusion of her story, physicians and students approached the resident with hugs and advice.

Don’t Judge a Bottle by Its Wrapper

“Ms. Mary is very excited to spend time with you,” the nurse said on my first day of hospice volunteering. From behind the nurse’s shoulder, I saw Ms. Mary rolling her power chair toward us, a toothless grin on her face. She looked up at me, her nasal cannula hissing with oxygen, and greeted me with her hoarse voice. I turned around to see that the nurse had dashed away, and left me alone to take care of Ms. Mary, who had heart failure, COPD, chronic pain and many other medical conditions.


How can doctors-in-training learn to have hard discussions with their patients? Will, a fourth-year medical student intending to become an internist, recounts two formative patient encounters he had during his third year. In the first, he learned from an attending physician and a man dying from cancer the challenges of determining when it’s time to end treatment. In the second, he realized a non-English speaking patient did not understand that she had lupus, and thus took the initiative to more effectively translate to her what the condition meant.

When Medicine Makes ‘Miracles’

“He’s had enough, you don’t want to put him through any more.” Dr. Acharya’s soft jowls folded into a cool smile, as though he hadn’t thought of acids unfiltered by failing kidneys. I dug my fingernails into my palms. Glancing at the bed where my grandfather lay, I watched his bare, gray skin grip the scar that split his ribcage in two. Behind his parted eyelids were unfocused blue eyes, glazed with whitish film. He hardly knew we were there — hovering over him — deciding whether he would have a chance to live and suffer, or whether he would suffer and die.

Palliative Care: What Makes a Life Worth Living?

The traditional structure of medical education begins with teaching normal anatomy and physiology followed by the various pathologies and treatments. Once students reach the clinical years, we are taught to think in the form of a SOAP note. First, perform a history and physical; then, order the necessary diagnostic tests to obtain your subjective and objective information. Next, form your assessment and plan — what is the problem, and how do you fix it?

The Funeral

Recently, I’ve found myself dwelling on the past. Maybe it’s just a phase, but I hope it’s a sign of maturity, that I’m moving into a new stage of my life. Usually, I find myself thinking about a dreary February day I spent in Toronto. I was there for my grandfather’s funeral. I can’t recall much because I was seven. However, there are few things I remember: heavy, gray clouds smothering the sun, the gloominess and gray scale of a suburban Toronto cemetery, and the hoards of somber and unknown people, all lost to the sadness and reverence of those final moments.

Damien Zreibe Damien Zreibe (8 Posts)


University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine

Hello! My name is Damien and I'm a student at the University of South Florida's College of Medicine. I was born and raised on the island of Antigua, and have been writing poetry and fiction for years. I hope you enjoy my work!