Sometimes the best intervention is not a medication but rather a listening ear, not a vaccination but rather a shoulder to cry on, not a screening test but instead an advocate.
First, do no harm, but to harm not I must first see / With swift breath, I begin. / You, silent teacher, my new textbook
“I used to be an elementary school art teacher in San Francisco.” The more he smiled and the more he spoke, the larger the lump grew in my throat. He wore a grayed t-shirt that matched his unkempt black beard.
Staring at each high-yield line in First Aid, attempting to commit every word to memory, hour-upon-hour, is the life of a medical student. The stress, isolation and over-caffeination, amidst the constant influx of information, is overwhelming and can cause even the most compassionate student to forget why they are studying.
It was a Wednesday morning. The air was crisp. The sun graced us with brilliance. I made my way to the emergency room where I was working for a two-week period on the cardiology consult service.
His fiancée calls him “The Storyteller.” We sit down outside a cafe during a warm August evening. Still clad in his hospital scrubs, he just finished a shift as a pulmonary/critical care fellow at Rhode Island Hospital.
My daughter is a doctor. / If your parents were not eaten away by / failed ambitions and childhood dreams, / you would not be a doctor today.
We wield the privilege of the scalpel, / Slice skin, / Cauterize the cutaneous, / Disrobe the depths of disease.
The day before I was asked to give this speech, sometime mid-May, I was speaking with a first year student. At the time, I was two weeks shy of completing my third year of medical school — the year of school that you spend the most time in the hospital.
It’s 1 a.m., everyone’s running on three cups of coffee / When a man stumbles through the entrance / And I could hear whispers of / It’s him, the homeless man, back in the ER again
To physicians, hospice frequently symbolizes defeat. Referring a patient to hospice care can feel like admitting that disease has defeated years of training. In medical school, we are trained that the role of the doctor is to fight the disease and find the cure.
The first thing she noticed, / Was her heart fluttering off and on, / The doctor saw her pale, / And iron pills were called upon.