Tag: fiction

Maggie Hulbert Maggie Hulbert (4 Posts)


Queen's University School of Medicine

Maggie Hulbert is a third year medical student at Queen's University School of Medicine in Kingston, Canada. In 2015, she graduated from Queen's University with a Bachelor of Science in life sciences. She is an active member of the medical humanities community and spent this past year developing the first Jacalyn Duffin Health and Humanities Conference. Her favorite writers include Danielle Ofri, Roxane Gay, and Samantha Irby. After graduating medical school, Maggie would like to pursue a career in Psychiatry.

Can Reading Fiction Make You a Better Doctor?

The first two years of medical school, for most students, consist mainly of studying from books, lectures, notes and papers. If a student is having trouble understanding the transporters in the kidney, they can read their notes or review the lecture. Later on in medical school, students spend more time on clinical clerkships. If on a rotation a student is told they need to work on their physical exam skills, they can go to the library and check out a book on physical diagnosis. When a lab result comes back on a patient that may be confusing, a student can quickly look it up on the internet.

The Grief Playlist

They have a term for it in the medical school curriculum: Breaking Bad News. An important communication objective. As a physician, I championed the “Breaking Bad News” clinical skills sessions, preferred them to the physical exam teachings that became dry and stale year after year. I volunteered to facilitate a small group every autumn, gently redirecting students as they fumbled through the contrived scenarios with an often over-zealous actor.


Calm.  Only the gentle hum of electricity resonated in the sticky, stagnant air caught halfway between dusk and dawn.  The mist itself seemed to vibrate unseeingly as it matched the sleeper’s own rhythms.  It had grown heavy in the absence of the daytime winds, and had learned to relish fondly its brief ownership of the night – there were many hours yet before it would be forced to relinquish ownership of the river valley’s people …

“This Is Not About You”

“Good afternoon, Ms. Starflight. My name is Samantha Miller, and I am a student doctor working with Dr. Singh. I know you have answered so many questions in the past few hours, but do you mind if I ask you a few more?” Haha, ‘Starflight’, what an alias? How can these people be so uninhibited? Sometimes I’m not sure I’m even seeing real pathology. These people are just like me with a little less holding …

It Was Late

It was late, but she was still awake.  Her mother had long since put her to bed and gone to sleep, but she was still awake.  She crawled out of bed and tiptoed gingerly down the stairs.  She didn’t turn on any lights, not wanting her mother to find her out of bed.  She remembered to be especially careful on the last stair; it was creaky, and her mother’s bedroom door was only a few …

An Unhealed Heart

He stood at the window, gazing out into the bleak, foggy morning. His fingers slowly traced words and symbols on the frost and then quickly wiped them away. His hands looked different he noted—the skin like tissue paper, thin and crisscrossed with fine lines. His veins raised and pulsing. He clenched his fist, wincing at the stiffness. He couldn’t remember when his hands changed. When they were last full and firm, strong enough to pick …

The Mild, Existential Adventures Past and Present of Javier Fitzsimmons, Dollar Store Teddy Bear

Author’s note: This piece will be published in the University of Alabama School of Medicine’s upcoming Voices in Word Literary Journal, published by its Narrative Medicine Interest Group. Descended from Spanish-English lineage but made in China, Javier Fitzsimmons’s brown, burly, furry form lay squished against the basket grating by the weight of a multitude of stuffed animals. In the 1500s after the wreckage of the Spanish Armada washed up along the English shores, a poor Spanish soldier …

Reading Fiction in Medical School? Surely You Jest.

When he visited UAB last year, Abraham Verghese opened his talk with the statement that if one no longer read fiction, the brain would die. His strong words offered reassurance that at least some medical professionals value literature. Further, the statement suggested that he makes time for it and would allot time for it for others. Indeed, at Stanford, he spends his afternoons brainstorming within a thinking room instead of a laboratory. Verghese’s declaration also …

Patrick McCabe Patrick McCabe (4 Posts)

Contributing Writer Emeritus

University of Alabama School of Medicine

Patrick is a Class of 2014 medical student at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham. Born and raised in California, he attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana and then spent two years applying his English major by teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth graders literature, grammar, and writing for the university's ACE program in Mobile, Alabama. Current extracurricular interests include trying to resume reading and writing as hobbies, watching films, listening to music and collecting film soundtracks, relaxing with friends, and waiting, with diminishing patience, for the Cal Golden Bears football team to have an undefeated season. He remains undecided about a potential field of practice.