Hilary Drake is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at the University of British Columbia
On my first day in a new family practice, my preceptor asked me to take a history from a patient who had listed their “reason for visit” as a sore throat. I stood in the hallway and made a mental checklist of questions to ask and observations to make. Have they had any sick contacts? Does their voice sound hoarse?
When I opened the door and asked them if they could tell me what brought them in today, they responded as expected: “My throat is sore.” When I asked what they thought might be causing the pain, they unwrapped a scarf from their neck and stated, “I think it’s because the noose didn’t work.” At that point they started crying.
They had tried to come in before. They had recognized their pain and wanted to reach out for help, but they were unable to out of fear that their physician would not believe the pain if they could not see it.
That was the day that I learned how stigma can kill someone. ...continue reading
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
Class of 2017
“I don’t want these anymore,” I say, avoiding my doctor’s gaze as I reach into my purse and retrieve the pill bottle, half empty. Or half full, depending on how you look at it. I place it on her desk. She looks from the bottle to me, her expression curious, no doubt wondering where to go from here. She expected to do my Pap test today, perhaps give me a flu shot, but did not anticipate this: a discussion about my antidepressants.
She asks me to explain. She asks whether the meds have helped with my mood. “Oh yes, ...continue reading