Tag Archives: medical humanities

Kacper Niburski is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at McGill University. He is also the CMAJ student humanities blog editor. Follow his writing instagram: @_kenkan.

 

 

The following was written after a conversation about poetry with a terminally ill patient.

*

as if you’ve already known

that it must be i

quiet i looking i

holding the heavy love

for us both

 

these giant holes of light

these hands wrecked with the small

and the insects that sit on bony branches

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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.

...continue reading

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Maggie Keresteci is a caregiver to her sibling who lives with a life altering disease and is committed to advocating for solutions that will improve the lives of Canadian patients and their caregivers.

 

 

"Coming together is a beginning;

keeping together is progress;

working together is success."

These words of Henry Ford, that bastion of business innovation, have been taking up space in my mind for the last few weeks, as I have contemplated the emerging world of patient and caregiver partnership in Canada. ...continue reading

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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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Imaan Javeed is a medical student at the University of Toronto.

Warming up my dinner in the microwave, I habitually open the YouTube app to see what's going on in the world. Before the microwave can finish whirring, though, it suddenly occurs to me: do I even like this stuff?

I’m talking, of course, about politics.

I must, right? For a pill I take religiously every day, multiple times a day, which occupies an embarrassingly large chunk of my attention, you'd think it would be something I at least enjoy. The thing is, though, for me, it doesn't feel like a choice. It's not voluntary, nor is it just a hobby or a game. It's an obligation.

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Jovana Milenkovic is a PGY2 in Pediatrics at the University of Calgary.

Ready is what I was.

A week of what should have been pure relaxation on the beaches of the Caribbean, was ruined by the torment of my special sixth sense. You see what I refer to as my sixth sense, is this twist deep in my stomach that always comes before something, usually bad, is going to happen. It came before I lost my first patient during clerkship. It came before my grandfather fell and broke his hip. It continues to come as a subconscious warning to brace myself.

We arrived at the airport, ready to head back home. While checking in, a passenger became unwell and was pulled to the side by the medical team. I watched as they took out a simple blood pressure cuff, “I haven’t had to use one of those since medical school, it’s all electronic now,” I commented to my mother. The twist in my stomach tightened.

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Kacper Niburski is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at McGill University. He is also the CMAJ student humanities blog editor. Follow his writing instagram: @_kenkan.

 

 

a voice
from mine,
to yours 

a nose
poor plumbing
when frozen

freckles
little her
left holding
onto summer  ...continue reading

Due to the sensitivity of the post, the author wished to publish the following piece anonymously. 

Dear potential Referee,

My name is Jane Doe, medical student and residency applicant. So nice to meet you. You are the 30th new staff that I have worked with in the past 15 months and among the over 100 physicians and residents who I’ve met and had to prove myself to across many disciplines and hospitals in our fair country.

So excited to be working with you, to learn from you and to incorporate some of the approaches and expertise that you have into my slowly forming future practice. Look at all that I know how to do! Please appreciate all the additional readings I have done. Did you notice that I’m wearing a perfectly professional outfit with properly groomed hair? I’m actually living out of a suitcase and couch surfing in a city I have never been to that I paid hundreds of dollars to come to just so that I could have the opportunity to spend the day with you today. ...continue reading

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Dennis Wesley is an independent educational researcher, whose interests include STEM, the Humanities, and health sciences--especially interdisciplinary practices and methods.

 

 

Written in 1978, Sontag’s long form essay ‘Illness as Metaphor’ is poignant for its historical study of illnesses and the metaphors that are used to describe them. These metaphors, most often, have a punitive and mystified connotation. Sontag takes us through the journey of metaphors attached with tuberculosis and, more recently, cancer. Essentially, she advocates for an explanatory language that is based on medical truths rather than on the disposition of the afflicted.

As a proponent of critical theory, it might seem like Sontag is handing over an illness to the field that it belongs to- the medical. However, she presents the tendency of philosophers and the general populace to shroud an illness, about which very little is known, in colorful and distasteful figurative language. ...continue reading

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Akina Fay is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at McGill University.

 

 

 

Days after my fourteenth birthday, I was diagnosed with a rare brain malformation and underwent emergency brain surgery to prevent my spinal cord from dissecting.

Days after my seventeenth birthday, my mother was diagnosed with a rare form of incurable cancer.

At the age of twenty, I started medical school and began to piece together the pathophysiological processes that lead to our illnesses.

At the age of twenty-two, my mother died in my arms after a grueling year of hospitalizations, pain and suffering.

...continue reading