Debbie Hall ~
Alexandra Lackey ~
During my third year of medical school, I completed a clinical rotation in surgery. I was certain that it would be horrible. I envisioned myself in the OR, getting lightheaded, passing out onto the sterile field and being yelled at by my attending physician. I worried that the medical knowledge I'd worked so hard to learn would be neglected in favor of memorizing the steps of surgical procedures. My parents, who are both physicians, warned that I'd just be holding retractors for hours.
I want to interact with my patients, I fretted, not just hover over them while they're anesthetized.
Although I tried to keep an open mind, I knew that I was destined for a miserable time.
Amy Cowan ~
It's Monday morning, and I'm the attending physician starting a week of inpatient service in the hospital. On my patient list is a man named Earl, age ninety-one. He's outlived his siblings, his first and second wives and all of his peers. After seven decades of smoking, his lungs are failing; he carries a diagnosis that reads "severe emphysema."
The sign-out note from Earl's previous doctor reads, "Daughter and son-in-law met multiple times with the team last week." As his medical decision-makers, they've been waffling about what to do for him. Last week they said, "Do everything," then "Take a comfort approach," only to wind up back with "Let's get him strong enough for rehab."
I've been putting off rounding on Earl: I'm afraid that these two will hijack rounds by changing their minds again.
Daniel Becker ~
At the clinic retreat everyone gets a prize,
and the Best Storyteller reminds us of those times
a man goes on a journey. Not just any man: Dr. William Osler,
the doctors' doctor, the professors' professor, the textbook author,
and this Canadian in Philadelphia crosses the Delaware to Camden
where Walt Whitman, the great American poet, the poet's poet,
endures fame and poor health.
Every case is supposed to be interesting, but Whitman,
according to Osler, suffered only from what his age could explain
plus or minus the usual slings and arrows,
the wear and tear of gravity,
the side effects and worries,