Arnav Agarwal is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1) at the University of Toronto. Check back the last Thursday of each month for a new featured piece as part of his series (Doc Talks: Reflections to Reality)!
Arnav Agarwal, CC3. I starkly recall etching those three words as I signed off on my first clinical note on a warm September morning. I wish this could be in pencil, I remember thinking. The idea of permanently associating my identity with a patient’s story and offering a proposed impression and plan felt outlandish — I barely had my own impression and plan figured out. How was I going to help patients and make a difference when I could hardly find my way to the right area of the hospital for my first day? And, a more weighted question: could I really practice medicine?
Indeed, the two years that followed were defined by gruelling academic intensity unparalleled by the prior two years of pre-clerkship. A rigorous clinical schedule was now paired with the expectation to prove theoretical capabilities every six to eight weeks. Uncountable sleepless overnight shifts on-call were matched by long days and weekend shifts. The unwavering anticipation of new learning experiences was paralleled by the uncomfortable sense of needing to constantly impress those around us and hold our own in a seemingly foreign environment. ...continue reading →
Kevin Lam is a third-year medical student at McMaster University
Lawrence Loh is Associate Medical Officer of Health at Peel Region, Ontario, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Suburbs, and later exurbs, became central to the Canadian lifestyle during the automobile boom in the 1960s and 1970s. Cars were sold as the future and urban planners created suburban neighbourhoods that quickly became the primary venue where people lived and learned. Suburbs were touted to be cleaner and safer spaces, far away from “derelict” urban cores, where people went only to go to work. From this idyllic image, suburban built environments have since developed various distinct characteristics, typically defined by "commercial strips, low density, separated land uses, automobile dominance, and a minimum of public open space."
Having reshaped many cities in North America, the suburban model has gone global. Around the world, the suburban forms of major cities such as Mississauga (Toronto), Surrey (Vancouver), Limert Park (Los Angeles), Footscray (Melbourne), and Prospect Park South (New York) share these similar characteristics. But it’s becoming clear that suburban living doesn’t necessarily promote wellbeing. In fact, urban sprawl is not healthy. ...continue reading →
Sabrina Slade is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Queen's University
Let me preface this by saying I am the kind of person who uses sarcasm and humour as a form of coping, and these opinions are my own.
You I have cancer.
A phrase I never could have dreamt would come out of my mouth, yet something I see or speak about almost every day in my so far short-lived medical career.
It’s the last week of June; I’ve just started my internal medicine rotation in Toronto and am rushing to get ready as I have slept through all seven of my alarms. I glance at my phone, noticing three missed calls and a voicemail with a little urgent symbol beside it. It’s my family doctor’s office; I listen to the voicemail half-heartedly as I struggle to pull on my nylons. She says something about biopsy results, and the words “neoplasia” and “urgent referral” stop me cold. I shimmy over to my phone, my nylons awkwardly half on, and hit replay. ...continue reading →
Denis Daneman is Professor and Chair Emeritus in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto, and Paediatrician-in-Chief Emeritus at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto
Here’s a strong recommendation for all paediatricians and paediatricians-in-training: if you are going to read only one book in 2018, seriously consider Ghost Boy: The miraculous escape of a misdiagnosed boy trapped inside his own body, the autobiography of Martin Pistorius, co-written with Megan Lloyd Davies. The book was given to me by a colleague aware of my bibliophilia, my South African roots and my advocacy for child health: “Read this!” she said, simply and forcefully. I obeyed, picking it up a couple of days later. I could not put it down until I’d read it cover to cover.
The story is pretty simple: a 12 year old, previously well boy in South Africa, develops an undiagnosed neurological illness, which leaves him mute and quadriplegic ...continue reading →
Mohammad Jay is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at the University of Ottawa
As you open this letter, you will have completed the first day of your orientation week. You’re sunburnt and tired, but beaming with excitement. You have met so many people and revelled in your shared enthusiasm about medical school. Remember to hold on to this excitement — not just today, but for the rest of your medical journey.
Although much of this journey will be rewarding and filled with exhilaration, there are going to be days when you’ll feel inadequate, exhausted, or frustrated. Remember the excitement of the first day of O-week during these difficult times. Open your admission email and replay the screams of excitement and the hugs from your family and friends. Despite the challenges of medical training, you are privileged to be on this journey. Remember that you are training to save lives. What could be a greater honour than this? ...continue reading →
Sarah Hanafi is a Psychiatry Resident (R1) at McGill University
I started my Geriatrics rotation on the Restorative Care unit. Having trained mostly in acute care, I found myself perplexed by this care model. On the surface, many patients seemed to suffer from maladaptive personality traits that hindered their graduation to primary care. It felt like a bizarre blend between an internal medicine ward and a long-term care facility; this mirrored the disorientation I felt in managing patients who had few medical problems, per se, but lacked the means — whether intrinsic or extrinsic — to cope. ...continue reading →