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My health deteriorated as I started my second year in medical school. I suffered from intense nausea and abdominal pain, only getting four or five consistent hours of sleep per day. These health issues had started and worsened during the second year, eventually culminating in an emergency cholecystectomy.
“You know, not all of us can be small,” the patient, a well-appearing woman in moderate anxious distress, said as she motioned with her hands and rolled her eyes towards me. “It’s disgusting,” she added.
Third-year rotations forced me to reckon with my emotional capacity as a human and future physician. With each patient encounter, I had to decide whether my skin was too thick or too thin.
Ruchica Chandnani, Class of 2024 at the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, contributes this poem as an in-Training writer and current managing editor of the publication since 2021.
The dispatcher called in to the emergency department to alert us that someone had collapsed in the parking lot of the hospital. The emergency medical services swiftly brought the patient in and our team surrounded him, placing lines and drawing blood. In the midst of treating him, I learned that Jones had just been released from prison where he had remained sober after years of heroin abuse.
At the start of my psychiatry rotation, I was most apprehensive about performing the “bread and butter” exam of the specialty: the psychiatric interview. I was not afraid of forgetting which questions to ask, but rather how to ask said questions.
“This one is a handful. She brought a long list, too, so good luck with that,” the nurse said as she handed me the patient prep sheet. This was a new patient to the family medicine practice. I was seeing her near the end of a long day, so I took a deep breath to reset my mind as I entered the exam room, prepared to listen.
My relaxed reveal / faked a fool / while tanking time / with failing fuel.
Comparison is the enemy / The future seems bleak / Look left, look right
you’re making things worse / rubbing wounds with the salt / from their own sweat
I was the student on the pediatric surgery service consulted to monitor her during her hospital stay — making sure we were ready to intervene if her esophagus ruptured and all that. After admitting her to the floor, we attempted to contact her parents. Mom was somewhere in Illinois, Dad doing I-still-don’t-know-what in Canada, both completely unaware that the life they each helped create was potentially in jeopardy at a Southeast Michigan hospital.