“I woke up after a nap one day with quite a bit of inspiration, so immediately I went to write this short story.”
“Welcome to Summer Camp,” the sign read. The excitement was palpable; the lot of us were all clamored together in that first courtyard. No one here had been to camp before, despite everyone being different ages. From the younger middle-schoolers, to the older of us high-schoolers, everyone was witness to the halcyon summer about to unfold. I knew going in that it was a goal of the summer camp to grow the older campers into leaders so that they’d come back the next year as counselors, and quite frankly, I was all-too-naïve and looking forward to the recognition and responsibility that would soon come with it. As we waited for the counselors to join us, I took in the moment.
Lindsey Glass, M.A. Speech Pathology, Class of 2024
I remember it clearly; the realization of what death was. Every living being dies. That meant the most important person in my life, my mom. I was around the age of four and realized my mom would die someday. The absolute disbelief and devastation. I threw myself on the kitchen floor, completely inconsolable. My mom comforted me. I do not remember what lead me to this realization, perhaps our pet hamster had recently passed. But my mom? She would die someday. This could not be. I refused to accept this fact. Eventually, after much of her kind and soothing words, she comforted me, and I moved on. This was part of life and I had to accept it. Now at the age of 32, honestly, I do not think I really accepted it, especially my mom dying someday.
How can a fish teach medicine, how does diabetes result from environmental contamination, and how does environmental contamination cause illness through biological and non-biological mechanisms? I recently read “The River Is in Us: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community” by Elizabeth Hoover, which prompted these questions. Hoover describes the impact of contamination and disruption of a Native American community’s environment located at Akwesasne along the St. Lawrence Seaway and bisected by the U.S.-Canada border. Akwesasne is downwind and downriver from a few sites, such as Reynolds Metals and General Motors Central Foundry, recognized as particularly hazardous to human and environmental health by federal and state governments. As a foreword, the Mohawk community at Akwesasne has a long history that this article cannot do justice to. I highly recommend reading Hoover’s book for more information on historical and cultural contexts.
Stress, anxiety, heavy feelings, whatever you want to call it, come with a potency that overwhelms our mind, influencing every decision and the way we perceive the world.
I have noticed I tend to look back on challenging stretches of life and think, that wasn’t so bad. Time gives us a lens with the blurring stress filter removed, giving a romanticized picture of the seemingly lackluster moments you overlooked. When this appreciation comes, all those moments are far gone, wasted on a overextended and burnt out mind probably because something wasn’t working out exactly the way we wanted it to at the time.
My little sister spins around the room in her cracked, calloused bare feet, gloriously fanning out her wild, endlessly flowing curly hair – the envy of virtually all the many young women we’ve had work in our home to help care for her. Nobody dances like Bianca. Now into her 30s, Bianca still needs help going to the bathroom and cleaning herself. Bianca cannot talk, other than rudimentary “ma’s” and “ta’s” if she wants something like a car ride or a piece of candy. She may scream or cry at any time, anywhere between a disconcerting slow boil or a flat-out tantrum, or bang her hands on the table and exhibit other such self-injuring behavior without warning. Bianca has no concept of social norms – of danger when crossing a street, of knowing when to be quiet and be calm in public, of suppressing her inner urge to pinch us or lash out at us when she feels frustrated. Bianca has no hope of independence, not even close. She will need someone taking care of her 24/7 for the rest of her life. I grew up in a household that spoiled Bianca rotten, that revolved around giving her the most stable environment possible, of putting a numbing bandaid on that down-the-road, bleeding fear our family has always had of what would happen to her when my parents were gone.
The growth I’ve experienced since starting medical school is staggering. One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed lately is my confidence. Entering into the medical profession is intimidating, to say the least. Like many others in my cohort, I struggled with imposter syndrome. Starting third year, I fell into the habit of introducing myself as “Just the medical student,” constantly apologizing for being in the way. Although there should always be a sense of humility in the way we show up to learn from others, I learned to show up for myself. I learned to ask the resident if I can throw that extra stitch when they are getting antsy and wanting to get on their way. I learned to bravely ask the attending the questions I’m ruminating on in my head. One of my recent lecturers said it perfectly, “Sometimes you gotta pull your education outta people.” Your learning experience is what you make of it; how important we are as medical students depends on us. Continue reading “Confessions of an M3”→
I laid my original white coat to rest at a beach in Auckland, New Zealand after my final day of an international clinical rotation. White coat disposal ceremonies are a tradition I must confess I have greatly anticipated. I had grown to resent that coat and what it meant. Its characteristic short length was an immediate signal to any healthcare professional in the hospital that I was a student – perhaps to some savvy patients as well. I frequently felt the weight of the “student” label while walking through the hospital. The real or imagined looks of patients, nurses, residents, and attendings that said I was a temporary time-waster at best and utterly incompetent at worst.
The United States is the only industrialized nation with a rising maternal mortality rate. These rates are not equally distributed, with Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women being 2-3 times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than White women. These alarming rates are not limited to those with lower socioeconomic status but transcend both class and educational level. A study in New York City showed Black women with a college education are more likely to experience life-threatening complications during delivery than a White woman who did not complete high school.
The night was young when the radio crackled to life. We couldn’t believe our luck. They told us the search and rescue missions wouldn’t start for another week, but here we had someone that couldn’t continue their hike. Eager to test our skills, we quickly gathered our supplies into the truck ambulance. When I look back on all my clinical experiences, the Philmont rotation outside of Cimarron, New Mexico, is certainly my favorite. Established in 1938 as Philturn Rocky Mountain Scout Camp, Philmont Scout Ranch has become a center for high adventure and training.1 For emergency medical technician students and medical students like me, this site offers a unique clinical training in wilderness and prehospital medicine high up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of the Rockies.1 Below the peaks in basecamp, the Philmont Infirmary is the central hub for this medical four-week sub-internship rotation, and it all began on my first night.