Danielle Penney is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at McMaster University
“Doctors are jerks.” It was a statement that I had always steadfastly believed to be true; a matter-of-fact statement, just like saying the sky is blue. Though I had no shortage of concrete personal examples to justify my belief, the irony was not lost on me as I stared out from behind the glass of the nursing station, ready to begin my first clinical experience as a new medical student.
I was in the child and adolescent psychiatric ward. From the nursing station, I could see the ward’s common area: the bolted-down tables and chairs, the colourful pictures adorning the walls, the patients scattered about the room—some in groups, some alone. It was a scene that was familiar, yet different. This was far from my first time in a psych ward, but it was my first time being on this side of the glass. ...continue reading →
Sarina Lalla is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at McMaster University
When McMaster medical students learn about medical conditions in a problem-based setting, we frequently use the mnemonic “DEEPICT” (Definition, Epidemiology, Etiology, Prognosis, Investigations, Clinical presentations, Treatment) to approach them. Medical schools focus on teaching students about these important aspects of diseases; with time and practice, this information can be retained and applied by students to make them better clinicians.
However, there is also value in understanding a disease through the eyes of patients. More specifically, it is critical to recognize how facing an illness and navigating the healthcare system impacts their lives. Patients are the experts on their own experiences, and the knowledge they can present in the form of stories can teach us a lot. While we learn how to interpret information in the form of bloodwork and imaging, patients present first and foremost with a story. ...continue reading →
Sarah Hanafi is a Psychiatry Resident (R1) at McGill University
I started my Geriatrics rotation on the Restorative Care unit. Having trained mostly in acute care, I found myself perplexed by this care model. On the surface, many patients seemed to suffer from maladaptive personality traits that hindered their graduation to primary care. It felt like a bizarre blend between an internal medicine ward and a long-term care facility; this mirrored the disorientation I felt in managing patients who had few medical problems, per se, but lacked the means — whether intrinsic or extrinsic — to cope. ...continue reading →
Alexia De Simone is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at McGill University
In our first year of medicine at McGill University, each student is paired with a member of the community who has had an experience navigating the healthcare system. Upon meeting Mr. H, a 62-year-old man from Montreal, I expected to quickly understand the chronic pathology leading to his kidney transplant while discussing his co-morbidities and medications based on my first-year courses. However, after visiting Mr. H, I learned that medicine goes beyond a patient’s diagnosis, and that illness impacts many people in one’s life — including mine.
As part of our course, we were responsible for meeting our patient four times throughout the year. Initially, it was very challenging to elicit Mr. H’s perspective on how his illness had altered his life. ...continue reading →
Jason Gencher is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Toronto
Today is the day. I have waited six months for today. I’m so tired, I can barely get myself out of bed. What time is it? I’m so hungry. Those Timbits look old, but I’m too hungry to care about that. I’m so tired — maybe I’ll go back to sleep? Don’t I have something to do today? Why is there this weird taste in my mouth? What she’s saying is all lies. There’s no truth in it all. They say things about me, but it’s all a big lie. One giant lie. When did I get this fat? It’s because of the medication. I used to be slim and athletic. But now I have circulation problems. It’s the medications they give me. ...continue reading →
Mei Wen is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Toronto
Last week, I was at the eye clinic at a downtown hospital as a medical student learning about ophthalmology. This week, I was there as a patient. And although I was at the exact same clinic only one week later, the contrast between these experiences couldn't be greater.
My first astounding realization as a patient was that there was a sign advertising the wait time to be one to four hours — despite the fact that this was a booked appointment. I am ashamed to say that as a medical student on the the other side, ...continue reading →
It was an ordinary Wednesday in clerkship. Handover went smoothly, and postpartum rounds were going well. New moms on the ward were happy and healthy. Aside from the fact that CaRMS applications were opening at noon, it seemed like just another day in the life of a clinical clerk. If you squelched the nervous excitement induced by CaRMS opening (were we really going to be residents so soon?), everything was great. Blood pressures on the ward, other than ours, were pristine.
I started to experience a cramping flank pain by midmorning. Really, it had started the Monday before, but I’d chalked it up to exhaustion from a long night on call. Or maybe some weird peri-menstruation cramps, even though the timing was off.
I fidgeted in my chair as I scribbled away at SOAP notes. Just make it through the morning, I thought. Ibuprofen was waiting in my brilliant orange bag downstairs in the resident room.