Kacper Niburski is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at McGill University
There are only a few bodies that I have touched fully and fumblingly: my mother’s, as a baby drawn to a life that spills kindness; my twin’s, as a faulty scanner realizing that meaning is not found in mirrors; my lovers’, who have known that fingers loiter like summer horizons when undressing the lightness of being. I’ve hugged big bodies, mountains of men and women. I’ve stretched to bodies that have slipped away, that have asked for my palms to leave. And I have felt the bodies that whispered into a night that saw everything that this is what it was all about — to hold and be held, to love and be loved.
Sometimes, in the steep silence after these uneven affairs, there are heartbeats. Tiny, repetitive things that almost seem too quiet to be, but are. There, under your nail. There, in my own now. They bumble braveness. They tickle familiar muscles and call like sunlit laughter. Against the unseen quiet, their sacredness spools out in a language older than language itself. ...continue reading
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
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
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
Jonathan Tomlinson is a general practitioner in London, UK, and a NIHR In Practice Research Fellow at the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry
Kate Granger, a young doctor with cancer, recently wrote a book called 'The Other side'. It's a book for doctors ‘to be better able to understand exactly what being the patient is really like …” Other medical writers have also been motivated by the shocking realisation that medical education and clinical practice had taught them so little about what it’s like to be a patient, the particular problems that doctors themselves have in coping with illness and the health risks associated with their profession; loss of identity, shame and stigma, the need to be treated as a person and an acute awareness of mistakes were common themes of narratives.
Inspired by their stories, I have been leading teaching seminars with medical students, GP trainees, GP trainers, GP retainers, medical humanities students and the public and learned a few more lessons along the way.
Doctors’ illness narratives have a particular power ...continue reading