From the Wards

Vidiya Sathananthan Vidiya Sathananthan (1 Posts)

Writer-in-Training

East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine


Vidiya Sathananthan is a member of the Class of 2021 at East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine. In 2014, Vidiya graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Arts in neuroscience and then worked in global health for a few years before going to medical school. She's interested in narrative medicine and health systems strengthening but has yet to decide on a specialty. In her free time, she enjoys cooking extravagant meals, bringing people together, and playing with her dog in the great outdoors.




“I Can’t Be Here Anymore”

Mr. K had been admitted with dehydration and malnutrition secondary to diarrhea in the setting of HIV. During his stay, he developed refeeding syndrome. When the resulting electrolyte imbalances paved the way for cardiac arrhythmias, he coded twice in the ICU. The care team managed to bring him back each time, but not without consequence; the brutality of numerous cycles of CPR left him with multiple rib fractures, inflicting him with sharp pain every breath. 

“Welcome to Medicine”

You don’t have to sit in silence and painfully nod along with an attending’s racist, misogynistic lectures because you’re their medical student. You don’t need to pick the skin off your cuticles to stop yourself from replying. You don’t need to learn how to hide your grimaces behind your mask because you know you’ll have to listen to them attack your identity for the next several weeks.

The Privilege of Patient Care

Each morning, Mr. E had a new concern — too hot, too cold, too dizzy, too stiff. He was admitted for what seemed to be a straightforward heart failure exacerbation, but his echocardiography showed severe hypertrophy in both sides of his heart that the cardiologists described as “concerning for infiltrative cardiomyopathy.”  For me, this was intriguing; as a fourth-year medical student with only one year of clinical training under my belt, the autoimmune diseases I’ve come across in actual practice have been few and far between. Mr. E, however, seemed completely uninterested whenever I brought up the amyloidosis they had found on nuclear imaging.

You’re Not a Bold, Knowledgeable Medical Student — You’re Just White

I knew I moved through these spaces easily for many reasons, but being White is a big one that needs to be said out loud. And when you look and feel more comfortable in a space, it is easier to perform “well,” or to sound confident. This is directly related to what academic medicine characterizes as “objective” evaluations of students, and there is data to support this.

Dust to Dust

“There’s a great neuro exam in room 5147,” my resident said as I dropped my bag in the call room. “Why don’t you go check it out?” I clutched my reflex hammer in one hand and googled the components of a neuro exam with the other as I headed towards the stairwell.

Reflections on My Medical Elective in South Africa

Doing my elective at Klerksdorp-Tshepong (K/T) Hospital Complex in my hometown of Klerksdorp gave me the opportunity to become familiar with the health system, the medical personnel and health-related issues that are prevalent in my community. It also allowed me to draw comparisons between my home country of South Africa and the United Kingdom, where I have undertaken the clinical years of my medical degree.

Madeline Fryer (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Massachusetts Medical School


Madeline is a member of the Class of 2021 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She received her BA in Public Health Studies from Johns Hopkins University in 2014 and MMSc in Immunology from Harvard Medical School in 2017. Her primary literary interest is short narratives, and she enjoys being outside and sending snail mail in her free time.