The waves beat; / a cold, relentless torrent. / You stand against them / taking the impact
The unexpected suicide of a graduate of our surgical residency program — nearly seven years ago — still reverberates off the walls of Stanford Hospital. While he didn’t end his life on the premises (that happened during fellowship in another city), the effects of his tragic death subdue the residency to this day
Humor… / it’s what saves me / keeps me from dying inside
“You need to just take care of yourself” — a phrase I’ve heard often over the past few years. What does this even mean? I thought it was silly and laughable.
Prior to starting medical school, I meditated for an hour every morning. There is a Zen proverb that goes something like this: “If you don’t have time to meditate for an hour everyday, you should meditate for two hours.”
It’s been about three years since Jacob committed suicide. In the high turnover microcosm of general surgery residency, there aren’t many who remember him.
My early idea of what it meant to be a intern came from a combination of pop culture physician idols (i.e. ER) and a handful of actual medical experiences. A dive headfirst from a shopping cart at young age earned me my first trip to the emergency room.
All physicians are taught to communicate with a fundamental language of healing. This column is a collection of reflections on how I learned this fundamental language and an homage to the teachers who taught me.
The novelty of becoming an intern has worn off, the fresh sheen of excitement on each shift, the crampy belly pain as I walk into a critical patient’s room, the rush of adrenaline as I try to intervene on a patient slowly or rapidly dying in front of me. Get up, go work, and sleep. And not much more.
The message, like all earth-shattering pronouncements, came with the softest of dings. As I was walking out from my house into the cold December air for a morning shift in the emergency department, my parents messaged me about the passing of my grandfather.
In the field of medicine, one thing is for certain: you are always interviewing. Whether it is for medical school, residency, fellowship or your “first job” as an attending, these skills are indispensable. During my career, I have interviewed on 39 separate occasions in over 150 distinct interview sessions. Here are some of my observations.
It really doesn’t take much to remind you just how human you are. I utilize the adjective “human” because most believe, both inside and outside of the confines of the medical community, that physicians are entitled and even expected to behave in somewhat robotic ways, with the long hours and constant absorption and dispensation of medical knowledge that often comes with performing the job and doing so well.