By anyone’s standards, from a medical perspective, we did everything right. But all I could think about is how much we hurt this boy by saving his life. How we saved his life just enough, not to kill him, just to take away every meaningful part of human existence.
In the late 1950s, my grandmother was often told, “Medicine is no place for a woman.” As a result, she went to medical school under the guise of attending a teaching college deemed appropriate by her mother. It was a difficulty journey for my grandmother to gain acceptance to Yerevan State Medical University in Armenia.
For most of our childhoods growing up in the Midwest, the Iowa we called home was a swing state proud of its investments in education, was welcoming to refugees from around the world, and was the third US state to legalize marriage equality.
One evening, overwhelmed by burnout, I drafted a letter of resignation to my program director and saved it on my computer. The next morning, I deleted the email without sending it.
System-based thinking describes a set of subconscious thought processes aptly named System 1 and System 2. The profession of medicine relies heavily on SBT — the ability to rapidly diagnose, treat, and improvise during stressful situations is dependent on these systems, which develop and mature throughout one’s training.
Physician burnout has emerged as an increasingly concerning phenomenon in medicine. As high as 51% of physicians in a Medscape survey report symptoms of burnout. Doctors face higher demands with less time and support. Academic medical centers, which historically have been insulated from outside forces, are now seeing larger patient censuses, leaving less time for physicians to work through each patient’s case carefully.
“Locker room culture” is a common trope that has been used to describe medical community of the recent past. Current practitioners will say that culture is, unfortunately, still prevalent.
Mrs. Red Jacket sat at the bedside in her isolation gown which covered her red jacket. She had left her walker outside her husband’s room. Mrs. Red Jacket held his hand and gazed out the window while he was sleeping.
I often arrive before sunrise and leave long after sunset, enduring unpredictable and challenging schedules while juggling multiple competing responsibilities.
At the beginning of my intern year, I bought a ukulele. I started intern year at a sprint, like anyone does, arms full of hope. This was quickly extinguished, lost in an atmosphere so devoid of hope that it all flew out of my arms to settle into places so far apart, it might as well have been floating in the vacuum of space.
I first heard of Yayoi Kusama last year when her spellbinding exhibit came to the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. Admittedly late to the international zeitgeist of Kusama, what initially drew me in was her story — a Japanese-American avant-garde artist who suffered from severe mental illness and successfully transformed that suffering into riveting artwork.
My last admission on my last call day of the year; only one patient stands between me and freedom. Freedom from the endless calls. Freedom from self-doubt and anxiety. Freedom.