From the Wards

Michael Velez Michael Velez (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Sidney Kimmel Medical College Thomas Jefferson University


Michael is a fourth year medical student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College within Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA class of 2021. In 2015, he graduated from the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and cognitive neuroscience and in 2017, he graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco with a Master of Science in translational medicine. When he is not working on healthcare innovation projects, he enjoys kayaking, paddle boarding, biking, hiking, swimming, and playing badminton. After graduating from medical school, Michael would like to pursue a career at the intersection of MedTech and Anesthesiology.




The Family Meeting

In the neuro intensive care unit, I took part in a meeting with my team to update a family on the status of their loved one. It was my first time in this type of meeting, especially for a patient that I was directly involved in caring for. To our team of medical professionals, he is our 51-year-old male patient with a 45-pack-year smoking history, but to his family, he’s a son, a husband and a father.

The Vulnerability of Our Patients and Ourselves: A Parallel Chart Reflection

I actually don’t remember his name; he wasn’t my patient. I just saw him during rounds every day during my internal medicine clerkship. He was in his late-80s, and he was very ill. He had a long history of COPD, most likely attributed to his even longer history of smoking. He had been admitted to our service for a severe respiratory infection a few days prior to me starting the rotation. This was my last rotation of my 3rd year, and I walked in thinking I had seen enough COPD patients to know exactly what to expect.

Buddy

You were my first patient on my first inpatient rotation as a third-year medical student, which meant that I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I was mostly concerned with trying not to faint during presentations on morning rounds. I stared at your bowl of Cheerios, the cereal beginning to turn the skim milk a pale yellow. Your brow furrowed in annoyance behind your thick glasses.

“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.”

The Anatomy Lesson

There were seven of us standing around the table as the attending surgeon debrided the infected fascia. The vascular surgeon came in the room and barked at us to identify the structures before us. “What’s that artery?” he interrogated us. “I’ll give you a hint,” he said, “there’s a deep and a superficial.” We named the sural nerve and iliotibialis band and the great saphenous vein. As we clamored around the table, I suddenly thought of the Rembrandt painting: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.

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.

Shivangi Singh Shivangi Singh (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine


Shivangi is a third year medical student at the University of Missouri-Columbia. In 2016, she graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and behavioral biology. She enjoys playing tennis and soccer, traveling and exploring rooftops in her free time.