Connection: the unsung cure

By Pravik Solanki and Susie Westbury

Dear reader, we live in strange times. We’ve been told countless times of the evils of sugar, the perils of experimenting with drugs, and the hazards of straying from the Mediterranean diet. But there’s an important warning that’s never a part of these conversations, something that has an even worse impact on mortality than obesity: loneliness and social isolation.(1)

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Cures, curiosity, cash, control: searching for motivation in medicine

By Mozafer Rajabali

Perhaps one of the most important bedrocks of current-day ethics in medicine is the Hippocratic Oath, a series of ethical standards that clinicians have to swear by before they enter the workforce. Medicine by its very nature requires an ability by the clinician to enter into some of the most private realms of another individual on a regular basis. For myself, while I may have initially almost stumbled into medicine, what now appeals to me the most is the ability to care for another individual in a way that requires their ultimate trust. This is not to say that I seek to adopt paternalist attitudes towards those I interact with, but that I wish to be able to work with them in achieving the best possible goals. Here, I wish to point out some of the reasons why & how my motivations for medicine have evolved, and try to contextualise them in a more globally relevant setting.

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A tribute to a palliative patient

By Priya Selvaraj

Laura glanced down at the next patient’s details. There wasn’t much to start with – she had never met this gentleman before, and we were just going to “drop by and check in on him”. We had taken a moment outside his house in the hospital car as she explained to me that the patient we were about to see was currently receiving palliative care for his cholangiocarcinoma. And that’s the extent of what we knew about him. As we stepped out of the car, a pleasantly dressed elderly man opened the door and waved us in. Introductions were made, pleasantries exchanged and we went in.

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Do Better: On the pursuit of perfection

By Mary Crabtree

Do better. Be better. Think better. We are relentlessly slammed with this pressure to do and be and think better. It comes from inside our own heads, and from an illusion that medical students should be able to ‘handle it’. We are inflated by those fleeting moments of praise from a consultant or an inspiring patient encounter, but this feeling is too often swiftly replaced by an overwhelming sense of inadequacy.

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To Embrace the Dying Light

By Victor Senthinathan
Honourable Mention, Writing Competition 2017

Prompt 2: Tell us about an encounter with a patient that has significantly shaped your understanding of medical practice or changed your worldview.

I always thought of hospitals as unpleasant places. It was a place where sick and dying people congregated, where white walls stretched out aimlessly and there was the ever-present promise of a registrar quizzing me on something I had just forgotten.

On this day however, my hospital seemed idyllic. It was the type of day where sunlight didn’t just stream into rooms, but cascaded off walls, golden glitter veiling the room. It was the type of day where every ward held smiling patients with easily identifiable differential diagnoses. It was the type of the day where your clinically appropriate shoes can’t help but skip into a room to find a patient for your case report. This is where I met Mary. I would be amiss as a medical student to not mention that the patient has been de-identified to maintain patient confidentiality.

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Changing Climates and Curricula

By Cecilia Xu
Honourable Mention, Writing Competition 2017

Prompt 3: Describe an aspect of medical school or medical practice that we do poorly, and discuss how we could best remedy this.

In 2009, The Lancet published a landmark report declaring climate change to be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century (1). It was the first report published in a medical journal of this calibre to draw attention to the effects of climate change on human health, both now and into the future. These included water and food insecurity, extreme weather events such as heatwaves and floods, and increased burden from infectious, psychological, and cardiorespiratory diseases. In 2015, a follow-up report was released (2). Unfortunately, projected outcomes were even more severe than originally anticipated. We are now in the midst of a global health emergency.

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Memories from the Bed

By Conor McDonald
Preclinical Winner, Writing Competition 2017

Prompt 2: Tell us about an encounter with a patient that has significantly shaped your understanding of medical practice or changed your worldview.

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My wife, Margie, sat to my left as we ate our dinner. A few grey strands peaked through her long dark hair. She had brown eyes and she was beautiful. Next to her was our 5-year-old son George. He looked a lot like me. Blonde hair, blue eyes and a chubby face with flushed cheeks. Our family filled me with pride. Whilst the ‘energy saving’ lights my wife had begged me to get made me feel like I was in a hospital – a place for the sick and dying – we managed to bring life to our cosy little home.

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Speaking the Language of Medicine

By Jason Ha
Clinical Winner, Writing Competition 2017

Prompt 2: Tell us about an encounter with a patient that has significantly shaped your understanding of medical practice or changed your worldview.

“There’s an angsty patient out there—”

“—So impat—“

Over the hubbub in the nurse’s station, I could barely paint out a coherent description of the patient. 82 years old. Surgical Post-Op Clinic.

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