Author Archives: CMAJ

Nauman Malik is a Radiation Oncology Resident (R1) at the University of Toronto

 

As I finish my first year of residency in Radiation Oncology at the University of Toronto, I find myself getting used to the routine: join a new team every few weeks, exchange contact information, and perhaps make a team group chat to stay on top of things. The days go by — rounding on patients, keeping up with the flow of operations and emergency consults — and the nights are spent trying to stay afloat amidst a barrage of pages and tending to sicker patients. At the end of the rotation, you sit down to discuss your experience with your staff, receive feedback, and move on to the next adventure. Often, goodbyes are kept brief and formal.

However, every so often in this sea of strange faces, you notice your team really starts to come together. ...continue reading

Beatrice Preti is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1) at Queen's University

 

 

 

It was the strangest of days when I met him first
Everything jumping from awful to worse
People were shouting and crying and seizing
Coughing and choking and retching and wheezing
It was nearly twelve hours before I could go home
But the attending doc called direct on my phone
And asked me, please, could I see one patient more?
Well, I couldn’t say no, so I went back to the floor
And met him there, though, then, he was alive,
But looking so dead I knew he hadn’t long to survive
Yet I took the history, and wrote everything thing down
Signed the orders, made the calls, and finished my rounds
Tucked him in for the night, and was just about to leave
When he said to me, “Doc? How much time do I have, please?” ...continue reading

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

 

Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick
(HarperOne/HarperCollins Publishers, 2018)

I remember learning about “atypical” presentations of heart attacks during a cardiology lecture in my second year of medical school. Jaw pain, shoulder pain, and fatigue replace the archetypal central chest pain and diaphoresis, making the diagnosis much more subtle and easy to miss. Only later, as a footnote, was it mentioned that these presentations usually occurred in women. I thought it was odd that something that occurs in half the population was said to be “atypical,” but as is so often the case in medical school, I didn’t have time to dwell on it for long; the lecturer had already moved on to angina and I missed what he had said about beta-blockers. ...continue reading

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Arjun Sharma is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Toronto

 

Picture a physician on a hospital ward at the day’s peak.

He jumps from one task to the next: patients being careened off for tests, colleagues who wish to discuss care plans, progress notes that need documenting, and piles of orders that need filling. Add to that the tune of beeping pagers, ringing telephones, and clattering keyboards, and not a single minute is spared of its full economy.

I’m watching all this during my first stint on a hospital ward. As a newly minted clinical clerk caught in the professional purgatory between classroom-cocooned medical student and ward-flying physician, I’m asked to do much of the work of the latter. But having only two years of study under my belt means much of medicine still remains beyond my intellectual reach. ...continue reading

Betel Yibrehu is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC. She is interested in medical education, diversity in medicine, and global surgery.

 

Canadian medical students at home and abroad reflect on the record numbers of unmatched applicants in the Canadian Resident Matching Service.

For many, acceptance into medical school marks the culmination of years of hard work and the start of a secure path towards a career in a rigorous yet rewarding field. In reality, acceptance into and completion of medical school means nothing without securing a residency position. And unfortunately, obtaining a residency spot in Canada has become an increasingly difficult endeavour. ...continue reading

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Imaan Javeed is a medical student at the University of Toronto

 

On Monday, April 23, while driving on Yonge Street near Finch Avenue in Toronto, it's alleged that Alek Minassian whipped the steering wheel of his rented white Ryder van sideways and killed ten innocent, unsuspecting people; physically injured sixteen more; and emotionally scarred hundreds of others. At the time of my writing, a clear motive for these actions has yet to be publicized. Minassian is alive and certainly under investigation, as much as he may have desired otherwise, but there still isn't much we know about the lead-up to the event.

Indeed, much to the dismay of some members of the media, the 'default' assumption quickly turned out to be untrue — there was not a single known link to "jihadist" terrorist groups or foreign radicalization to be found. ...continue reading

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Ameer Farooq is a General Surgery Resident (R3) at the University of Calgary who completed his Master of Public Health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in the Global Health track. He is interested in global surgery, implementation science, and trying to keep up with his two children.

Alastair Fung is a Pediatrics Resident (R3) at the University of Manitoba who completed his Master of Public Health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in the Global Health track. He is interested in early childhood development and pediatric infectious diseases in low-resource countries, as well as Canadian indigenous child health.

 

A child is admitted to the PICU for hemiplegia and diagnosed with a brain abscess. The culture of the abscess fluid grows dental flora; clearly, poor education and access to dental hygiene are the root cause. ...continue reading

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Sarah Hanafi is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Alberta

 

In healthcare, we sometimes hear the saying, “I went home thinking about that patient.” I thought I knew what this meant until I met Winnie.

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It was a foggy Tuesday and the humidity hung thick in the air. On my first day as an elective student in Palliative Care, I was apprehensive as I exited the elevator onto the hospital unit where I would be spending the next two weeks. Soon after my orientation, I was asked to go meet my first patient. Winnie came to us with pain and shortness of breath due to an advanced lung cancer. We worried that Winnie’s hospital bed would become her death bed. ...continue reading

Jonathan Oore is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Dalhousie University

 

Artist’s Statement for Milgwija'sit Puoin An'stawe'g Wuguntew or Apprehensive about the future of the spirit-healer's fragile stone

This artist’s statement accompanies my artwork featured on the CFMS Annual Review 2018 cover. Broadly, it is a comment on indigenous health.

Mi’kmaq art and craft is laden with straight lines, sometimes by necessity of the tools or materials used to produce them. The rays of the sun in the branching of a tree; the geodesics of a turtle’s shell within the modal phenomena of the ocean or tessellated through the moon; recursive, tortuous animal-in-animals; cross-hatched petroglyphs on (cylindrical) trees. A stark contrast between curved and straight is pitted and married over and over. The confluence and absence of the straightness, curvedness, and “curvilinearity” is the point—a point—the top of a wigwam, the poles of a canoe, the countless barbed tips of quillwork. ...continue reading

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

 

Life on the Ground Floor
(Doubleday Canada, 2017)

Dr. James Maskalyk describes emergencies “as a sign of life taking care of itself” in his most recent memoir, Life on the Ground Floor. Throughout his book, the reader is left to wonder what exactly Maskalyk means by this. It is an ominous phrase that, at first glance, reads more like a repackaged “survival of the fittest” for emergency departments. However, through deft and emotional storytelling, Maskalyk urges us to look beyond this stark message of Darwinism and see that emergencies are the purest form of life helping life, or “life taking care of itself”. ...continue reading