My final reflections as I graduate from medical school on fear, courage, and doing right by patients.
In just under two months, I will be making two big transitions as I begin life as a resident. The first and obvious change is from student to doctor.
The patient was hacking sputum into a tissue when the resident and I entered his room. "How long have you had that cough?" "Oh this? As long as I can remember." "But it's been worse lately?" "Yeah." "Worse how?" "More stuff coming out each time.
"Stick to your guns." "Put your nickel down." "Stand your ground." If you're a medical student, there is an excellent chance you have heard one of these in the course of your training.
Last year, I was honored to receive an invitation to address the Medical Student Section of the American Medical Association (AMA) on writing about medicine.
I was glad she never asked if I had done this before. My first nasogastric tube was placed on an elderly woman with chronic liver disease. As her illness worsened, it gradually turned her skin yellow, her abdomen swollen, and her mind foggy.
The life cycle of a medical advance usually goes something like this: from discovery at the research bench and replication of findings, to translational research and clinical trials, to implementation.
He was known to the hospital as someone who would try to manipulate his caregivers. And I fell for it anyway. Frequently admitted for pain crises associated with a chronic illness, he spent most of his hospital course avoiding eye contact with the team.
“You wanna talk? Let’s talk.” The 42-year-old man sits up straighter in the hospital bed and grins a toothless grin.
"So, is this the sickest list you've ever had?" the resident asked me at 2 AM, after I finally finished checking off all my boxes for the night.
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