Author Archives: CMAJ

Hong Yu (Andrew) Su is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University

Jessica Chin is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University

Matthew Greenacre is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University



John is a fictitious name given to an elderly gentleman that myself and some of my colleagues visited on a regular basis. John may be one person, but his situation mirrors that of many, many more across the country. In that sense, therefore, John represents not just himself, but a much greater social predicament. This is John’s story. ...continue reading

Ariane Litalien is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at McGill University


I was about halfway through my second year as a medical student at McGill University when—for a variety of health-related reasons—life decided I needed to take a break from my studies. I packed up my short white coat, Littmann stethoscope, and practice suturing tools in a square box, wrote “transition to clerkship” in tidy Sharpie letters on the top flap, and started looking for a full-time job.

Like Vancouver and a handful of European countries, Montreal’s public health agency (CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal) was on the verge of opening four supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users across the city. Given my professional experience related to social work and HIV, I decided to apply for a position as an outreach worker. ...continue reading

 is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at Western University


Nearing the end of my first year in Medical School, I am amazed by the wealth of knowledge acquired during such a short time. There have even been several moments throughout the year where picturing myself as a fully licensed physician seemed slightly less daunting. I have become comfortable with routine physicals, certain diagnoses, different drugs, and management of a wide range of illnesses. I have no doubt I will encounter each of these facets of healthcare during my career. However, there is one unavoidable aspect of medicine that has been discussed very little: death.

The discussion of death is, understandably, quite sensitive; thus, discussing it with such a diverse demographic of students requires a certain amount of skill and reserve. But after learning about concepts such as palliative care and patient-physician relationships, it seems unjust to gloss over one of the most vital roles of a physician — the ability to comfort patients in their most troubling times. ...continue reading


Sondos Zayed is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at McGill University


Raised in an impoverished household, Ms. K was married off at a young age to a man decades her senior. As the years passed, the abuse her husband inflicted upon her escalated until she began fearing for her life. She spent years saving money and meticulously planning her escape, though her departure also meant abandoning her family to the mercy of her husband’s wrath. She eventually sought refuge in Québec, Canada.

With no real proof of identity, she was imprisoned for months upon arrival. Once released, with neither connections nor funds, she was directed to the YMCA Residence (which in 2010 had with the ...continue reading

Tyler Murray is an Internal Medicine Resident (R1) at the University of British Columbia who graduated from medical school at the University of Toronto in 2017


“I cried my eyes out three times today.” I now recognize what this is; it is not the first time. “I am emotionally exhausted.”


“There are happy tears and sad tears. And these are HAPPY tears.” I AM HAPPY… but today was a HARD DAY. “Actually, I’m not sure what to call these tears.”

“Soul tears?” I cried soul tears today. ...continue reading

Michael Taylor is an MD/MBA student in the Class of 2020 at the University of Alberta




The whistle of far windy notes, painting the halls as if afloat.
Seat firm and wide, I lean to hear: each breath — one, two — becomes less clear.
Your room is grim, ravaged by age; matte-paint preserved… thrives in this cage.
My empty stare — toward the cracks, while blankets rise with lacking gasps.
I listen to the stories made — within these walls — they fill this space.
The beeps, each tear, the fallen cries; I slowly numb, no thoughts survive.
Our past, which you do not recall… I wish, some glimpse, you knew at all.
I try to grasp what brought you here, to understand your distant fears… ...continue reading

Robbie Sparrow is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Western University


For individuals facing deep personal struggles, the path to recovery is often daunting and overwhelming. Support from others who have overcome similar challenges can be extremely beneficial. For example, the best people to help heroin addicts are those who have fought to stay sober for two years, and women facing domestic abuse are best aided by women who have escaped it. Doctors who care for patients living through crises are often disadvantaged when trying to empathize with them because they themselves haven’t faced the same struggle. Difficult experiences throughout a physicians’ life can help them approach this ideal of empathy and improve the care they offer patients. ...continue reading

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


(Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016)

In the introduction to The Remedy, British Columbia-based editor Zena Sharman states her intention plainly: to make people’s stories the centre of conversations on queer and transgender health. The resulting anthology is a stunning and captivating look at the past, present, and future of health and healthcare as it relates to LGBTQ+ people in Canada that more than accomplishes Sharman’s goal. A long-standing frustration with healthcare providers is a common theme among the stories contained in The Remedy. ...continue reading

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