Author Archives: CMAJ


Sondos Zayed is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at McGill University


Raised in an impoverished household, Ms. K was married off at a young age to a man decades her senior. As the years passed, the abuse her husband inflicted upon her escalated until she began fearing for her life. She spent years saving money and meticulously planning her escape, though her departure also meant abandoning her family to the mercy of her husband’s wrath. She eventually sought refuge in Québec, Canada.

With no real proof of identity, she was imprisoned for months upon arrival. Once released, with neither connections nor funds, she was directed to the YMCA Residence (which in 2010 had come to an agreement with the ...continue reading

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


“I cried my eyes out three times today.” I now recognize what this is; it is not the first time. “I am emotionally exhausted.”


“There are happy tears and sad tears. And these are HAPPY tears.” I AM HAPPY… but today was a HARD DAY. “Actually, I’m not sure what to call these tears.”

“Soul tears?” I cried soul tears today. ...continue reading

Michael Taylor is an MD/MBA student in the Class of 2020 at the University of Alberta




The whistle of far windy notes, painting the halls as if afloat.
Seat firm and wide, I lean to hear: each breath — one, two — becomes less clear.
Your room is grim, ravaged by age; matte-paint preserved… thrives in this cage.
My empty stare — toward the cracks, while blankets rise with lacking gasps.
I listen to the stories made — within these walls — they fill this space.
The beeps, each tear, the fallen cries; I slowly numb, no thoughts survive.
Our past, which you do not recall… I wish, some glimpse, you knew at all.
I try to grasp what brought you here, to understand your distant fears… ...continue reading

Robbie Sparrow is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University


For individuals facing deep personal struggles, the path to recovery is often daunting and overwhelming. Support from others who have overcome similar challenges can be extremely beneficial. For example, the best people to help heroin addicts are those who have fought to stay sober for two years, and women facing domestic abuse are best aided by women who have escaped it. Doctors who care for patients living through crises are often disadvantaged when trying to empathize with them because they themselves haven’t faced the same struggle. Difficult experiences throughout a physicians’ life can help them approach this ideal of empathy and improve the care they offer patients. ...continue reading

Maggie Hulbert is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at Queen's University


The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Healthcare
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016)

In the introduction to The Remedy, British Columbia-based editor Zena Sharman states her intention plainly: to make people’s stories the centre of conversations on queer and transgender health. The resulting anthology is a stunning and captivating look at the past, present, and future of health and healthcare as it relates to LGBTQ+ people in Canada that more than accomplishes Sharman’s goal. A long-standing frustration with healthcare providers is a common theme among the stories contained in The Remedy. ...continue reading

Ronald Leung is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at McMaster University


“I think I’m dying,” one of my patients says to me one day. We stop, halting in the middle of the hallway of the inpatient acute psychiatry unit that leads toward the interview rooms in the back. She takes in my expression of concern and waves it away. “Not like that,” she laughs, launching into a monologue on the philosophical fragility of human existence. She is articulate beyond her years, just entering the second decade of her life.

She also reminds me of Jude. Despite the disparities in their age and appearance—she is a petite millennial with a distinct sense of style in contrast to middle-aged Jude with his crisp oxford shirts—the same strings seem to reverberate when they speak. ...continue reading

Chloe MacAuley is an intern (junior doctor) at Tallaught Hospital in Ireland who graduated from medical school at Trinity College Dublin in 2017


Armed with an email outlining the ‘Dangerous Abbreviations NOT to Use’, a certificate showing I had passed an online test on how to use the hospital computer system, and a dictation number — what was a dictation number? I wondered — I boarded my plane from Dublin to Vancouver for a medical student summer elective.

Canadian students in my class at Trinity College Dublin had warned me that Canadians expected more of a hands-on approach from their medical students. Navigating the unfamiliar streets to St. Paul’s Hospital on my first day in downtown Vancouver, I was thinking about how much easier it would have been to stick with the familiar commute to St. James’s Hospital in Dublin. I was nervous, but I had resolved to throw myself in the deep end before final year. ...continue reading

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Dominic Wang is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at Western University


My usual Sunday morning plans to catch up on last week’s lectures were mixed with a dash of anticipation for a taste of a new city’s coffee scene. All this, with the blue backpack.

Heading out, my eye was immediately caught by a man at the bus stop. He was singing and dancing in a style reminiscent of a grainy ‘50s film, but was wandering dangerously into the middle of the road. I considered my options as I drew closer: do I stop him, or do I keep walking? All this, with the blue backpack.

Our eyes met. We both nodded. He strolled up with a grin on his face. We exchanged the usual greetings. Then, he asked it: “Are you a med student?” We were suddenly talking about his dancing, and how he may have been drinking, and how he may have wanted to study at Western, and how he may have been abused as a child, and how he may have schizophrenia. I pulled out my phone, gave him the time for the next bus, and continued to my stop. ...continue reading

Kevin Dueck is a Family Medicine Resident (R1) at McMaster University who graduated from medical school at Western University in 2016




To be content
my family
my patients

...continue reading


Zeenat Junaid is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at Bahria University in Pakistan


“How do you make leukemia visible?” Jo Spence asked herself.

A British photographer and educator, Spence was a transforming voice in the arts of the last century. Her documentary-style photo albums dealt with themes of class struggle, conformity, and feminism. In 1982, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. A few years later, leukemia also set in. This cancer was not just in her blood and bones — it had seeped into her existence. It hijacked her arteries of security; it exiled her into grey plains of isolation she had never known before. Her whole career, she had sought to catch that special look — that nuance in a scene that told another story. But could she capture this tyrant phantom of disease now in her photos? How to express something for which words falter? ...continue reading