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 →
Sahil Sharma is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at Western University
It was my first week on service for internal medicine as a third-year clerk. I had finally begun to figure out the labyrinth of charts, forms, and computer apps that went into my interactions with patients. I still had four of the eight pens I’d started with and had managed to misplace my sacred “pocket guide” only twice — so, all in all, I was off to a good start.
I was told by my senior to go see a patient who was in ICU step-down and had recently been transferred to our care. I hurriedly went to the computers and started reading up on the patient’s history.
Mr. C had a long and complicated history. He had initially presented to the hospital with signs of cholecystitis but later developed multiple complications landing him in the ICU. After a flurry of resuscitative measures and close monitoring, Mr. C was finally deemed stable enough to be transferred to the ward. ...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 →
In March 1996, I was a healthy, fit 50-year-old man enjoying life with a young family. A month later, I was in an induced coma fighting for my life against acute septic shock accompanied by severe adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multi-joint and -organ dysfunction which frequently accompanies sepsis. My sepsis was brought on by Group A Streptococcus (Strep A) in my bloodstream which compromised almost all my joints.
My trajectory which led to acute sepsis is not unusual. On Day 1, I had a very severe, but short-lived, bout of extremely high fever (40.5 degrees Celsius), followed by excruciating hip pain the following day.
By Day 3, the hip pain had become unbearable. That evening, we called my family doctor’s on-call service and a doctor came to the house at midnight. The physician felt my condition was osteoarthritis and prescribed anti-inflammatories.
On Day 4, my wife became so concerned that she called a doctor who was a family friend. ...continue reading →
It’s March Break, which means last chance to do winter activities for some families in Canada. Unfortunately, I’m not Winter Fun Mom so I booked Son #2 - the only person in our family who is interested in winter sports - on a bus-in snowboarding camp. On day 1 I warned him to be careful and to try not to injure himself. On day 2 I forgot to warn him. So at 2pm on day 2 I got a call from the snowboard instructor to tell me that my son had fallen and would soon be on his way to hospital in an ambulance.
I know I should be more encouraging of adventure and more accepting of risk-taking in my boys. ...continue reading →
Nikhil Joshi is a Fellow in Clinical Immunology at the University of Manitoba. He wrote a blog for CBC about his experience with cancer
I was reading about Allergic Bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) when it hit me.
Modern Medicine is taking a beating.
A day goes by in clinic. I’ve told three people today that the medications they are taking are keeping them from having uncontrolled asthma or an attack of angioedema and please not to stop them. I’m explaining that the disease is worse than the medications, which we give to children as young as 2. I sigh. I hate this. I scan the news headlines after my dictations are finished. I read about the NDP and Liberal party stances on physician corporations, which will probably lead to financial hardship on new physicians starting practice with entirely crippling levels of debt amid a background of rising overhead and reduced fee schedules. I’m further disheartened.
When did the world care so little about medicine? When did being a physician become so difficult and unrewarding? ...continue reading →
Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Class of 2018
My own experiences as a patient when I was a teenager are what pushed me towards medicine. I want to remember what the “patient experience” is like throughout my training and eventually into practice because it helps keep me grounded in empathy. As I train to become a doctor I can feel those memories and feelings slowly slipping away and being replaced by the “doctor experience.” This poem was written to reflect on what it feels like to be on the other side of the hospital bed, the importance of remembering where you came from, and the juxtapositions and parallels of my patient and medical trainee experience....continue reading →