Author Archives: CMAJ

Tyler Murray is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1) at the University of British Columbia who graduated from medical school at the University of Toronto in 2017

 

Fortunately, I found myself starting medical school unacquainted with death. I had only been to a single funeral, all four of my grandparents were still alive, and my entire extended family was relatively free from chronic disease.

Our first exposure to death in medical school was in the anatomy lab. At the end of the first week, we were brought down to the morgue and introduced to our cadavers. A small card with a simple line about who they were hung at the foot of the table: "54y male. Cause of death: lymphoma.” Over the next two months, we became intimately familiar with these bodies. Each day, we crossed a new boundary in a process of uncomfortable, progressive desensitization. I wonder now if this was intentional. ...continue reading

2 Comments

Maria Powell is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1) at the University of Calgary who graduated from medical school at Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2017

 

Admittedly, my social histories used to consist of the same three questions: Do you smoke? Do you drink alcohol? Do you use recreational drugs? I would occasionally ask if the patient worked outside the home, or what they did for income, but the question rarely came up when reviewing consults with resident and staff physicians so I did not routinely ask about it. One thing I am sure of: I never asked whether or not the patient had a home.

During my first two years of medical school, I had lectures on the social determinants of health, and I thought I understood their importance. Yet, it was not until I did a “Health of the Homeless” elective in downtown Toronto that I truly appreciated the impact of the social determinants of health. ...continue reading

1 Comment

Sterling Sparshu is an Early-Career Physician who graduated from medical school and completed their residency at the University of Calgary in 2017

 

As I graduate from my residency program, I am struck by how much this journey has mirrored aging and development. I grew typically enough through infancy and childhood, but medical training stalled me in adolescence.

While others gradually accumulated responsibility, status, and wealth in a stepwise fashion, I have received this at a slow, then exponentially increasing rate. It seems at one moment I was a medical student; then, suddenly, I had an MD and was expected to take on so much more than only a day before. Now I will be a medical staff — but I am no longer just me. I am no longer just a student, resident, or physician. I am now a corporation. I have an accountant, a lawyer, a financial advisor... I am suddenly earning as much in a day as I used to make in a week. I have been granted tremendous power and must take on immense responsibility. ...continue reading

1 Comment

Eleni Levreault is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Ottawa

 

 

 

They said medicine, when you begin,
Is like staring Mount Everest in the face.
You wonder how the mountain you climbed
Suddenly shrinks to a hill beside what is yet to come
Yet you start the climb;
This is what you’ve trained for, after all
And as summer turns to fall, the journey begins:
Genetics, anatomy, they consume all your time
As the snow settles in, the bell-ringers cease to chime ...continue reading

Hely Shah is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Alberta

 

As a medical student in pre-clerkship, I was known to my classmates as the one who watched recordings of all the lectures rather than attending in person just to have the opportunity to scrub in more often in the OR. I was driven to shadow every surgical specialty at least once. Suffice to say, I love surgery: the precision; the ability to lead a talented and hard-working team as an attending surgeon; the ability to cure a disease instantly (or, more commonly, after hours of arduous work); the gratitude of patients; the hands-on approach… the list goes on. To my surprise, when I expressed a desire to pursue a surgical residency, my colleagues were skeptical about my commitment. Their simple yet commonly expressed sentiment regarding surgery: only pick a surgical residency if there is nothing else I love more in life. ...continue reading

2 Comments

Yipeng Ge is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Ottawa

 

Having completed a handful of family medicine preceptorships and a few electives, I have had the opportunity to gain exposure to talking to patients one-on-one — and I am beyond excited to enter this field.

Learning about another human being and immersing yourself in their stories and concerns is a privilege — a chance to be present and to be there for them. I was fortunate enough to tag along on many patient home visits for my most recent family preceptorship session. ...continue reading

Ashleigh Frayne is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Calgary

 

 

 

My neck aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My mind, as though clouded by sleeplessness,
Or cushioned by some dull opiate.
One hour past, and the labour ward darkens:
The softly buzzing lights overhead pulse
And seem to warn of Queen Mab:
Midwife to thoughts unbidden, ...continue reading

3 Comments

Jason Gencher is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Toronto

 

Today is the day. I have waited six months for today. I’m so tired, I can barely get myself out of bed. What time is it? I’m so hungry. Those Timbits look old, but I’m too hungry to care about that. I’m so tired — maybe I’ll go back to sleep? Don’t I have something to do today?  Why is there this weird taste in my mouth? What she’s saying is all lies. There’s no truth in it all. They say things about me, but it’s all a big lie. One giant lie. When did I get this fat? It’s because of the medication. I used to be slim and athletic. But now I have circulation problems. It’s the medications they give me. ...continue reading

Tharshika Thangarasa is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Ottawa

 

 

 

You wait,
And enter.

You have 60 minutes to speak.

To expose the intricate framework of your mind,
_______The context of your predicaments,
_______The emotional underpinnings of your life. ...continue reading

1 Comment

Jessica Bryce is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at Western University

 

On July 4th, 2016, I fainted in the OR.

It was the beginning of my clinical placement at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali in Kigali, Rwanda. I had crawled into bed at 8pm the night before feeling like crap. It seemed I had finally caught the same bug as the other Canadian medical students.

But a multi-hour forearm tendon/nerve repair was planned for the next day, and I didn’t want to miss it. So, in the morning, I donned the thick cotton scrubs, scrubbed in, and entered the impossibly hot OR. ...continue reading