Tag Archives: compassion

Giuliana Guarna is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at McMaster University

 

Knock, knock.

I pulled back the large door and stepped into the room. It was early in the morning — just after 6 am. She was lying in bed, awake, with a smile on her face despite the fact that she was post-op. The evidence of surviving rounds of chemo were borne out in front of me. Her hair was peach fuzz, peeking through a silk turban wrapped around her head. Her cheeks were like little Timbits, but her frame was swallowed by her hospital gown.

“Oh, hi. Come in. Let me turn on the light.”

I walk to the foot of the bed. The sun had not yet peeked out from under the shades. The room was illuminated by a yellowish-white hospital glow as she pressed the switch.

“How are you today?” ...continue reading

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Welcome to this week's edition of Dear Dr. Horton! Send the anonymous questions that keep you up at night to a real former Dean of Medical Student Affairs, Dr. Jillian Horton, and get the perspective you need with no fear of judgment. Submit your questions anonymously through , and if your question is appropriate for the column, expect an answer within a few weeks!

Dear Dr. Horton,

Looking back, I know there were many reasons I wanted to enter this field — but with the overwhelming and increasingly hectic nature of medical training and residency, it’s sometimes easy to forget what those were.

I don’t want to become jaded so early in the game, but can feel some of my initial idealism ebbing away and cynicism setting in. What are some ways to remind ourselves of our passion for medicine?

Signed,

Burning Out

...continue reading

1 Comment

Welcome to this week's edition of Dear Dr. Horton! Send the anonymous questions that keep you up at night to a real former Dean of Medical Student Affairs, Dr. Jillian Horton, and get the perspective you need with no fear of judgment. Submit your questions anonymously through , and if your question is appropriate for the column, expect an answer within a few weeks!

Dear Dr. Horton,

It seems everyone is always talking about the importance of having a strong support system around you. While I’ve managed to make casual acquaintances among the pool of colleagues and co-learners I see from time to time, these relationships feel fairly superficial. Yet no one seems to have the time to forge deeper connections...

How do you build your "tribe" in medicine, given how busy everyone is?

Signed,

Lone Wolf

...continue reading

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

 


(Penn State University Press, 2017)

The HIV/AIDS Care Unit (Unit 371) at Chicago’s Illinois Masonic Medical Centre was founded on a heartbreakingly simple observation. “We are all just people taking turns being sick,” stated Dr. David Blatt, one of the founders of Unit 371, in ’s newest graphic novel — the aptly named Taking Turns: Stories from the HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371. Czerwiec was a brand-new nursing graduate on 371 during the height of the HIV epidemic, and Taking Turns is in many ways her tribute to the unit’s extraordinary spirit. The intention of the unit was made clear from day one: this would be a place where the most stigmatized and ostracized patients could be cared for with empathy, understanding, and love. ...continue reading

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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, , 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 "" terrorist groups or foreign radicalization to be found. ...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

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Sarah Tulk is an Ontario physician who recently finished her residency training in family medicine at McMaster University

 

“If only he had chosen a higher floor, we wouldn’t have had to come here!”

These were the words that came out of my preceptor’s mouth. I was a wide-eyed medical student, shadowing in orthopedic surgery. The patient was an older man who had sustained multiple fractures after attempting to end his life by jumping from an apartment building balcony. The trauma ward was full, so he was, inconveniently, located on a distant ward which meant his poor choice of departure level was now encroaching on our operating room time. In medical school, I learned that mental illness was shameful before I learned how to use a stethoscope. ...continue reading

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Kayla Simms is a Psychiatry Resident (R1) at McMaster University who graduated from medical school at the University of Ottawa in 2017

 

Compartmentalization is to medical knowledge as bread is to butter: patients, divided into sub-types; the body, separated by systems; the physician, detached from the pain.

Or so I once thought.

In medical school, I walked into patients’ rooms and stood idly at the bedside, intimately embedding myself into the darkest spaces of strangers’ lives. The bedside, like a carpenter’s work bench, is where I mastered concepts of sound and touch: the absence of bowel sounds auscultated in an obstructed state. The warmth of inflammation against the back of my hand.

The bedside is where I grew accustomed to asking questions like, “How is your pain today?” and learned to de-humanize the experience with the help of a 10-point scale. ...continue reading

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DMacA_3 is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK

 

Could cancer simply be due to bad luck rather than environmental factors, risky behaviour or bad habits? In recent weeks, media attention focused on a scientific discussion on the risk of cancer based on papers published in Science and Nature. While the discussion itself is fascinating, isn’t it interesting that this debate took place across mainstream scientific publications rather than in established medical journals. Perhaps medicine is already convinced by the epidemiology or, maybe medical journals are less open to such debate. This is the story: ...continue reading

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is Deputy Editor at CMAJ

 

Today is a momentous day for physicians in Canada. No matter what your opinion about whether or not physician assisted dying is morally right, it will be a human right henceforth under certain circumstances.

We have aired a broad spectrum of views on this forum in the lead up to the Supreme Court of Canada’s , released this morning. Even CMAJ’s editors are divided in their personal opinions. We have discussed our personal views in many an editorial meeting, and CMAJ’s Editor-In-Chief, John Fletcher, put me on the spot to declare my position publicly when we were recording the of the journal.

Many Canadian physicians will feel unhappy about the decision, perhaps even angry ...continue reading