Off the Shelf
Leave a comment


His raspy cough did echo stridently.
Consumed with stupor at present was he.
Although I wished to speak ardently,
I sat and stared; my mind was lost at sea.

Hepatic failure claimed him mentally,
And colored yellow both his eyes so wide
As too his being stained corporally.
Despite this, haven safe he stayed inside.

Remaining silent, gripping tight his hand,
I bowed my head: a solemn moment bound.
The time was nigh for this expiring man,
But always here does dignity astound.

I entered — later now — his former room
And recalled well a death devoid of gloom.

This piece first appeared in the 2017 issue of Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, a medical humanities journal published by the students of the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the journal or submitting a piece for the 2018 edition, please visit the website for more information.

Ashten Duncan, MPH, CPH Ashten Duncan, MPH, CPH (11 Posts)

Columnist, Medical Student Editor and Former Managing Editor (2017-2018)

OU-TU School of Community Medicine

Ashten Duncan is a third-year medical student at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A 2018-2019 Albert Schweitzer Fellow, he recently received his Master of Public Health (MPH) with an interdisciplinary focus from the University of Oklahoma Hudson College of Public Health. Ashten attended the University of Oklahoma for his undergraduate program, completing a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Microbiology and minors in Chemistry and French. An aspiring family physician, Ashten is currently on a National Health Service Corps scholarship. His research interests include hope theory, burnout in medical education, and positive psychology in vulnerable populations. Ashten is passionate about creative writing and what it represents. He has written pieces that have been published on and and in Blood and Thunder and The Practical Playbook. Ashten is currently serving as Associate Author for the upcoming edition of First Aid for the USMLE Step 1.

The Lived Experience

As medical students, we sometimes lose sight of our purpose for going into medicine and feel that we are exerting ourselves excessively with little feedback from our environment. It is important that we remember that, while we are living through the experiences that come with our training, our future patients are also living through their own experiences. The focus of this column is to examine topics in positive psychology, lifestyle medicine, public health and other areas and reflect on how these topics relate to medical students, physicians and patients alike.