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
Shawn Katuwapitiya is a Psychiatry Resident (R4) at the University of Ottawa who graduated from medical school at Western University in 2014
This poem was performed at the 2017 , where Shawn was acting as one of Ottawa's representatives from the . He regularly publishes poetry at .
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
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
Fortunately, I found myself starting medical school unacquainted with death. I had only been to a single funeral, all four of my grandparents were still alive, and my entire extended family was relatively free from chronic disease.
Our first exposure to death in medical school was in the anatomy lab. At the end of the first week, we were brought down to the morgue and introduced to our cadavers. A small card with a simple line about who they were hung at the foot of the table: "54y male. Cause of death: lymphoma.” Over the next two months, we became intimately familiar with these bodies. Each day, we crossed a new boundary in a process of uncomfortable, progressive desensitization. I wonder now if this was intentional. ...continue reading
Sterling Sparshu is an Early-Career Physician who graduated from medical school and completed their residency at the University of Calgary in 2017
As I graduate from my residency program, I am struck by how much this journey has mirrored aging and development. I grew typically enough through infancy and childhood, but medical training stalled me in adolescence.
While others gradually accumulated responsibility, status, and wealth in a stepwise fashion, I have received this at a slow, then exponentially increasing rate. It seems at one moment I was a medical student; then, suddenly, I had an MD and was expected to take on so much more than only a day before. Now I will be a medical staff — but I am no longer just me. I am no longer just a student, resident, or physician. I am now a corporation. I have an accountant, a lawyer, a financial advisor... I am suddenly earning as much in a day as I used to make in a week. I have been granted tremendous power and must take on immense responsibility. ...continue reading
Hely Shah is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of Alberta
As a medical student in pre-clerkship, I was known to my classmates as the one who watched recordings of all the lectures rather than attending in person just to have the opportunity to scrub in more often in the OR. I was driven to shadow every surgical specialty at least once. Suffice to say, I love surgery: the precision; the ability to lead a talented and hard-working team as an attending surgeon; the ability to cure a disease instantly (or, more commonly, after hours of arduous work); the gratitude of patients; the hands-on approach… the list goes on. To my surprise, when I expressed a desire to pursue a surgical residency, my colleagues were skeptical about my commitment. Their simple yet commonly expressed sentiment regarding surgery: only pick a surgical residency if there is nothing else I love more in life. ...continue reading
Yipeng Ge is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Ottawa
Having completed a handful of family medicine preceptorships and a few electives, I have had the opportunity to gain exposure to talking to patients one-on-one — and I am beyond excited to enter this field.
Learning about another human being and immersing yourself in their stories and concerns is a privilege — a chance to be present and to be there for them. I was fortunate enough to tag along on many patient home visits for my most recent family preceptorship session. ...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
Jessica Bryce is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at Western University
On July 4th, 2016, I fainted in the OR.
It was the beginning of my clinical placement at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali in Kigali, Rwanda. I had crawled into bed at 8pm the night before feeling like crap. It seemed I had finally caught the same bug as the other Canadian medical students.
But a multi-hour forearm tendon/nerve repair was planned for the next day, and I didn’t want to miss it. So, in the morning, I donned the thick cotton scrubs, scrubbed in, and entered the impossibly hot OR. ...continue reading
Noren Khamis is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at the University of British Columbia
Long before starting medical school, I wondered how I would react to the first sight of a cadaver in the gross anatomy laboratory. I was comforted by the fact that when the time came, I would have sufficient warning, guidance, and—of course—preparation. But as often happens in life, situations do not go according to plan. Above and beyond mastering basic anatomy knowledge, those long days down in the cadaver lab taught me that I was truly unprepared to deal so intimately with death. ...continue reading