Student Humanities Blog

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
for
my family
my patients
myself.
A
goal.

...continue reading

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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

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Kayla Simms is a Psychiatry Resident (R1) at McMaster University who graduated from medical school at the University of Ottawa in 2017

 

Compartmentalization is to medical knowledge as bread is to butter: patients, divided into sub-types; the body, separated by systems; the physician, detached from the pain.

Or so I once thought.

In medical school, I walked into patients’ rooms and stood idly at the bedside, intimately embedding myself into the darkest spaces of strangers’ lives. The bedside, like a carpenter’s work bench, is where I mastered concepts of sound and touch: the absence of bowel sounds auscultated in an obstructed state. The warmth of inflammation against the back of my hand.

The bedside is where I grew accustomed to asking questions like, “How is your pain today?” and learned to de-humanize the experience with the help of a 10-point scale. ...continue reading

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Shawn Katuwapitiya is a Psychiatry Resident (R4) at the University of Ottawa who graduated from medical school at Western University in 2014

 

This poem was performed at the 2017 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, where Shawn was acting as one of Ottawa's representatives from the Urban Legends Poetry Collective. He regularly publishes poetry at http://psychiatryproject.tumblr.com.

...continue reading

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

 

Imagine working in a hospital where a child is admitted and kept on the wards for seven years without being allowed to see their family. Now imagine being that child, and growing up to be an adult in today’s healthcare system. Would you ever set foot in a hospital again? Would you ever trust a doctor? These are the kind of questions that come to mind while reading Medicine, Unbundled: A Journey through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care, a book written by investigative journalist Gary Geddes. By travelling across Canada and interviewing Indigenous leaders, Elders, and members of a wide variety of First Nations, Geddes provides a powerful account of how Canada’s historic Indian Hospitals and Tuberculosis Sanatoriums directly and intentionally contributed to the genocide of Indigenous people. ...continue reading

Cathy Li is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at the University of Toronto

 

"Doctor, what do you recommend for my grandmother's pancreatic tumour?" My heart was fluttering nervously as I scribbled down his suggestions. This was the third meeting I had arranged.

Growing up, I had a very close relationship with my grandmother and lived with my grandparents until I was six years old. I received the news of her diagnosis during my third year of university. The words “intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm” haunted me and echoed incessantly in my head for days; I could neither think nor focus. The feelings of powerlessness grappled to hold me down. Yet deep down, I was aware that simply being a passive bystander would be the greatest personal defeat. With that, a new wave of resilience inundated my thoughts. ...continue reading

Usman Khan is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Ottawa

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

 

 

You find me:
Sprawled across the cold, dark asphalt.
Incoherent, incompetent, "incapable".
Hypotensive, bradycardic, cyanotic.

Overdosed. ...continue reading