Author Archives: CMAJ

Mei Wen is a currently a PGY1 in Family Medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital.


If there is one thing I learned from going through the Canadian Resident Matching Service, or as we all know it as CaRMS, is that it will all inevitably work out in the end. It may not feel like it before, during or right after the match, but it will all work out.

From seeing friends match to their first choice to the unexpected. Witnessing friends match to the specialty of their choice but a less desirable location or friends matching to an unexpected specialty as well as a location far away from their partner, family and friends. To the most painful – watching my best friend go unmatched. It may be exactly what you pictured, or it may not. But whatever the result, you will get through it.

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Saba Shahab is a third year medical student at Western University.


How many patients remember every advice shared by their physician at a clinic visit? How often do patients know exactly what disease they take each medication for? As a medical student, I have had the unique opportunity of following a few patients through their encounter with several health care providers. During my physical medicine and rehabilitation rotation, I saw an 86 year old man who had suffered a stroke and had come in for a follow up visit after receiving rehabilitation therapy at the hospital. At the end of the visit, the doctor had multiple recommendations for the patient that included another follow up visit, medication changes, continued therapy at the outpatient rehab unit, community resources for stroke patients, a referral to another specialist for an unrelated problem, and counselling for prevention of future strokes.

Three days later, I was following an occupational therapist at the outpatient rehab unit and saw the same patient come in for their first day of therapy. The patient asked the therapist why the physician recommended that he seek therapy in the community instead of outpatient rehab at the hospital. The occupational therapist was confused as he felt that the program at the hospital was ideal for this patient at this time. I remembered the doctor’s recommendations and clarified that the physician wanted the patient to seek resources in the community after completing the outpatient rehab program if he needed more therapy.

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Roger Hudson is a doctoral student studying Neuroscience at Western University.

Vasiliki Tellios is a Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at Western University.



Canadian medicine has experienced great shifts in knowledge and innovation throughout the past century, propelled by unique and resilient individuals that have devoted their lives to bridging gaps between science and medicine. Dr. Douglas Bocking is among these individuals. Bocking obtained his medical training during World War II, and later forged novel collaborations between burgeoning fields of medicine and science. His leadership as Dean of Medicine and Vice-Provost of Health Sciences at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) from 1965-1978 revolutionized clinical research and led to the creation of Canada’s first academic department in family medicine, helping to establish Canada as a leader in medical innovation. ...continue reading

Quinten Clarke is a 2nd year medical student at McMaster University.


At once a memoir and critical exploration of the narratives around addiction and addiction recovery, Leslie Jamison’s 2018 non-fiction work The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath works to personalize addiction using the lens of the author’s own experience.

Unlike her previous work in The Empathy Exams that used personal narrative to explore understandings of empathy as manifested through human behaviour, The Recovering uses contemporary understandings of addiction to explore her own personal narrative. The narrative structure that oscillates between Jamison’s own experiences, the history of addiction treatment, and the interplay between famous depictions of addiction and the artists who produced them, functions as a reflection on her attempts to avoid the reality of her addiction. Drawing from works as diverse as David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest to Charles Jackson’s Lost Weekend, The Recovering creates a comprehensive review of literature pertaining to addictions and intertwines these depictions with Jamison’s own experiences. ...continue reading

Sujin Im is a family medicine resident R1 at University of Toronto.


The morning after another 24-hour call shift at labor and delivery, I went for my routine rounding of families who delivered during my shift. Some days, patients all blur together and I am also a blur. Especially when I just feel inadequate and exhausted. But this one morning, the father offered his newborn son to my arms. "Hold him. You helped bring him out to life. You should get to see what you work so hard for." ...continue reading

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Owen Dan Luo is a medical student in the Class of 2023 at McGill University. He is also a committee member on the Health and Environment Adaptive Response Task force (HEART) of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS).


On inspection, we would observe her febrile state,
As heat waves grow stronger and longer,
With her body covered with painful, red blisters,
As wildfires rage unrestrained over her epidermis.

On palpitation, we’d run our hands along her prominent rib borders,
Cachexic wasting from malignant clumps of plastic waste in her oceans.
With clear signs of respiratory distress,
Trapped underneath a cloak of greenhouse gases – she gasps for air.

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Eitan Aziza is a second-year Internal Medicine resident at the University of Alberta.


Medicine has become increasingly cognizant of the role of comprehensive and integrated  care in keeping patients well. While medical therapies are essential and prerequisite to care, they are not comprehensive in their reach. Pills are necessary but not sufficient to restore health. Our medical training rightly emphasizes diagnosis and proper prescriptions; it does not provide us a broad view of all the elements needed to deliver comprehensive care. Over the course of our residency, we are given the opportunity to pair with allied health specialities in a 2 week block titled “Multidisciplinary Care Team”. In an environment where residents are steeped in a seemingly all-encompassing training regimen focused on medical therapies, this course represents a difficult shift in focus for many. Suddenly, displaying our own abilities takes a back seat to the skills of others as the emphasis of teaching is adjusted from medical leadership to medical observership. It is a humbling experience that puts our role in the healthcare team in its true context within the multidisciplinary tapestry. ...continue reading

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Vincent Soh is a 4th year medical student at University of British Columbia.

I was born into the war— a war which has carried on for over fifty years.

But “war” for me was nothing more than a word thrown around by newscasters. Growing up in a small South Korean town only 50 kilometers south of the demilitarized zone, I have never felt unsafe or experienced the anguish of true desperate hunger. Instead, over the years, I have witnessed one of the most rapid economic booms in the century, a remarkable global expansion of both culture and technology, and the evolution of a world-renowned health care system. I could never believe that my country was at war…

In stark contrast are the experiences of my cousins north of the 38th parallel. To them, the effects of the war are devastatingly real and tangible.

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Ashleigh Frayne is a Family Medicine (R1) at the University of British Columbia.


‘Twas the night before Christmas, and I was on call,

When I felt rather strange as I entered St. Paul’s.

It was tough to tell, and it was hard to say,

What thing might have stirred up my senses that day.

But then Mrs. Mac—from room twenty-four B,

Stood still in her doorway and whispered to me:

“Dr. V— come inside, you must see what I’ve found,

There’s a trapdoor in my room, right here in the ground.”

My eyebrows shot up, to the peak of my hair,

And I thought to myself, good God man, beware.

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Ilana Birnbaum is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at the University of Toronto.


This work represents some of my reflections during my 6 week Surgery rotation as a third year medical student. While I enjoyed this rotation and learned a great deal about surgery, and clinical care more broadly, I largely felt anonymous. I felt hidden away behind my surgical mask, cap, gown, and gloves.

Even when I was not physically wearing this personal protective gear, I felt as though there was a distance of sorts between myself and the patient. This lack of identity seemed reciprocal. As I felt anonymous to my patients, they too had an element of anonymity in my eyes. My consults in the emergency department were focused, follow-up appointments in clinics were concise, and rounding on inpatients in the mornings was reduced to a few yes or no questions. The majority of my time spent with a given patient was when the patient was under anesthetic.

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