Partial Craniectomy

Two weeks into the quarantine, and the teenager’s recovering from a bout of bacterial meningitis he contracted before everything happened. He’s finally doing better. “This feels normal now,” the mother says, gesturing to the slender tubing snaking from his cranium. “I wish the rest of the world felt the same way.”

Gregory Plemmons
Faculty Member

I See You

I see you
Trying your best to smile, hoping the news’ not too bad.
I see you
Holding the phone so tight your knuckles blanch, anxiously waiting for me to get to the point.
I see you
Hear the test results, gasping in disappointment, then the sobbing. Quiet.
I see you
Because I’m human too.

Evelyn Ilori, PhD
Student

Luis

385,000+ dead.

Suffocating grief.
A lifetime in color now gray memories
wondering when last they talked.
Could he sense when her breathing
stopped?

For what are wildflowers without bees?
What brings light to leafless trees?
There is no Luis without June.
And she is gone. So he left too.

Forevermore. A numbing statistic.

385,000+ dead.

Lauren Moore
Student

The Things I’ve Learned

I’ve learned to smile with my eyes
So they can see that I have a soul.

I’ve learned that a moment of silence,
A reflection of the things that we hold dear,
Will allow us to proceed with purpose.

I’ve learned we’re more alike than we’d like to think.

We all want to be loved.

Miki Calderon
Student

A Blessing in Disguise

I did not know then
What sacrifice would look like

To pursue my dreams
While evolving from old wounds

Loss and forgone love
Drawn out by this pandemic

Stoics had known best
Master loneliness they said

The grace of being
Forced to confront inner worlds

For those in training
Must learn to heal themselves too.

Christina LaGamma
Student

Sharing

I catch her eye when she falters,
brow furrowed beneath breath-blurred plastic goggles
a pause at the sudden tears –

and then she wraps his inconsolable in white coat arms,
navy spots blossoming on sky blue fabric
– a reminder that pain can melt us together
just as much as it pushes us apart.

Haorui Sun, BS
Student

June

315,000+ dead.

You yearn to escape unscathed
as daylight erodes the bleakest night.
Vaccines on the horizon met with a foreign feeling-
Hope.

But it is too late. She is gone.
Empty promises of protection proved fallible
because even wildflowers wilt in the sun.

She died alone. A numbing statistic.

315,000+ dead.

Lauren Moore
Student

Invisible Enemy

From the shadows of healthcare, we rise. Now on the front stage.
Science and planning on a moment’s notice have collided…
With a hidden enemy at our door, lives are lost in a battle of time.
Steadfast and determined, we will not fail.

Jason Stalling, MBA
Administrator

Duty

I read about it
Not sure if it can affect us

Few days go by
People now ask me
I am supposed to know

What it is
How to prevent
How to treat

To be a frontliner

Stop
Take a breath
It’s ok to be scared

But then,
I have to move on and help

Niyati Grewal, MBBS
Student

Who remembers to call the family?

Four hours after the surgery should have ended, my mother paced anxiously. “Should I call?” Not allowed in the hospital, we received no updates during the procedure. “They’ll call if something is wrong.” “I don’t want to annoy the doctors.” Grandma was already in recovery, it turned out. No one had bothered to tell us.

Allison Neeson, BS
Student

Pandemic Yell

I’ve developed a new appreciation for my own voice – a scream so forceful it took me by surprise. I called it my “pandemic yell”. I recorded it and listened to it over and over again. It was exhilarating to hear and feel the rage inside burst its way out finally. I made it my ringtone.

Mimi Lam, DVM, CCFP, Dip.Path
Faculty Member

For Months

Four Months
Watching charts, statistics, news commentators
Wondering where my place was in this strange new world of
Staying home, begging relatives to
My first day back in the hospital
Realizing the cost
In fear, in loneliness, in too-early goodbyes
But I know
With hope and courage
We are finding brightness
And brighter days ahead

Emily Marra, BA
Student

A Month of Haikus

A new month begins,
pandemia continues,
I long for an end.

Writer’s block struggles,
so I puzzle with haikus
for poetry month.

What has been unmasked?
Each day brings new surprises
and unwelcome truths.

Disobedient
dreams haunt my subconscious. I
can’t escape COVID.

A month of haikus,
finger counting syllables,
what will mark days now?

Trisha K. Paul
Resident

ICU Redux

She looks the same, despite many years.
Still young and still tired

as she was in 2005, when I met
her and her son.

His story a tapestry weaving
through so many ICU rooms since that day.

Recognition hits us.
She points out his “first” room.

A sudden hug, ignoring masks.
I don’t pull away.

Wynne Morrison, MD, MBE
Faculty Member

Like Faded Denim

Before she coded, I had told her she’d be okay.
I can’t breathe, she said between heaves
as the mask pushed the air in
and pulled life out.
I patted her shoulder,
held her hand through her gasps.
When the team started compressions
her head tilted towards me,
eyes wide in shock.
They were blue.

Andrew J Park, MD
Resident

Family Time

School is now virtual, her kids are always home
Jobs are now uncertain, her livelihood a slippery prize
They say quarantine, they say family time
Her black eye and bruises, “just new make-up tricks mummy is trying out”
She holds them tight, her tiny little kids
Too young to already know the sounds of abuse

Jane-Frances Aruma
Student

Thank You Corona!

You helped me realize life isn’t all about living nor death about dying.
Every death is but a reminder of what I yet need to let die within me. And I die a little when someone else dies too to in let the new life while still alive.
Your tough love made me more humane!

Sailaja Devaguptapu
Senior Research Officer

My Pandemic Baby

She didnt know she was being, born in a pandemic,
a world where there would be no faces.
Where smiles wont prevail.
Where handshakes will be scary, and hugs would be scarce.
She only knew the warmth of the womb and,
now here she was in this cold dark world.
This cold dark world.

Saba Fatima, MD
Faculty Member

An Infectious War

Cough, sneeze, sniffle. Everyone is suspicious. At the grocery store, the bank, the gym. COVID-19 is everywhere. Invisible but ever-present. Waiting to capitalize on the next victim. Respiratory droplets, aerosolized, on fomites. There’s no escape from this war. Masks, social distancing, hand washing – our only hopes. We are in this together. We must come together.

Logan Garfield
Student

Isolation

Isolated in my room, I cannot leave
Food and drink are brought to me
My breath is infectious, I must wear a mask
It’s getting lonely in here
My dog cries outside my door
I feel sick, but the sadness of this isolation drowns that
Three more days, one negative result
Freedom is so near

Amanda Rodriguez
Student

Routine Morning

At home, like always, hunched over my computer clicking through UWorld questions. Our dog curls around my feet to beg for attention and food. Voices drift over from my mom’s phone—another day, another Zoom funeral. Which one?, I think, as I sweep my faceshield and mask into my bag for another clinic halfday.


Chioma Ndukwe, MS3
Student

tik tok

256,000.

Tik. tok.

Each with a family.
A parent. A child. A grandparent.

Tik. tok.

An aunt or uncle.
A spouse. A sibling.

Tik. tok.

A friend.

tik. tok.

Every minute, someone dies.
Not just a number, but a person.

Tik. tok.

Each with their own story.
A story cut short.

Tik.

Kaila Pomeranz, DO
Attending

My first stroke patient

“COVID-19, alone, intubated.
Young Black Female,
BLM protests outside.
Significant anemia. Blood ordered post-procedure.
I check on her. Sedation wearing off.
I explain.
She panics.
“I never want blood!” she writes.
“Why?”
“Religious—Spiritual”
I panic.
RN, PRBC bag in hand.
“No blood,” I say.
I alert MD.
On rounds—
“Thank you, Dara,” she writes.”

Dara S. Farhadi, BS, MS
Student

Patients of Color #1

Brown like me
Amir and Sarah bounced off the walls of the clinic. I smiled and showed them my stethoscope. Their dad just lost his job and with that went his health insurance. He was grateful for this free clinic. I was grateful he trusted me. They looked just like me and my brother when we were kids.

Roshan Bransden, MS4
Student

Patients of Color #2

“Bad black mother”
She’s back again.
It’s her seventh child.
She’s positive for amphetamines, again.
HIV positive, no prenatal care, no insurance.
It’s 2 a.m. The baby is 3 months early.
It’s born — transferred to the NICU.
Mom is discharged.
“We’ll see her again,” my attending shrugs and turns to his computer.
We all failed her.

Roshan Bransden, MS4
Student

Despair

Fever, chest pain, shortness of breath. Death
Shackles, choking, gasping. Death
Centuries of invisible, invincible oppression

A tale of contagion and two viruses
For one- tests, treatments, vaccines, fueled by money
For the other- words and more words, running on empty

Change is coming.
Change is coming.
Change is coming today
No change is coming

Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD
Faculty Member

Not what we know, new hope

Focused in ED code stroke. Student standing nearby. Though busy and stressed, I called her over for short teaching. Both very appreciative. Students now not allowed. Not ignoring small opportunities with learners, family, friends that bring joy and purpose. May lose sight of true priorities while busy but don’t know when won’t have them anymore.

Kristie Chu
Fellow

Travel Ban

“Mom, this is not your regular 77th birthday message.

My upbringing, instilled with your trust, faith, and values;
I treasure.

We clash, but our relationship is strong and lasting;
‘vergeef me’, when I hurt you.

I need you to know how much I love you
in case something happens, and I can’t come home.”

J.M.Monica van de Ridder
Faculty Member

White Enough

“Well, we’re just glad we switched to you as her PCP… Mom’s last doc was too Middle Eastern.”
Wordlessly, I gesture to my name badge: five Arabic syllables next to my white-passing face.
He shifts uncomfortably before leaning forward, determined to make a smooth recovery:
“No, I mean he was like… Middle Eastern Middle Eastern.”

Samer Muallem
Faculty Member

Danger in the Air

We assemble.
Respiratory therapist,
Me
Nurse
He booms,
“1!”
Hold on…
“2!”
I still need to…
“3!”
And with our might
our patient’s face suddenly emerges.
Tube disconnects
Machine air abounds
I hold my breath.
In that moment we praise mask and shield.
Before I can blink,
our airy captain re-attaches the tube.
I exhale.

Chuma Obineme
Fellow


The Reality of Stay at Home Orders

He’s ill, but cannot afford to miss work.
He wants to quarantine for others’ safety but can’t survive without income.
Your hands touch his. Now you’re contaminated.
It was easier to pass judgement on his lack of isolation when the virus was abstract.
But now, you too, are vulnerable to its hardships.
Now you understand.

Rachel Fields
Medical Student

From Sketchy to Bedside

I had heard about coronavirus once prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was studying for Step 1 and was watching SketchyMicro. The “Kingdom of SARS” sketch opened with the narrator saying “Coronavirus, it’s not a super high yield virus”. If only the creators knew that this non-high yield virus would end up changing the world.

Shilpa Ghatnekar
Medical Student

Uncertainty

Who am I? Now and when I’m gone.
How have I lived? How will I die?
Questions burning in my mind
Ask my mom to let me go.
This is not who I’ve chosen to be
But who I was born to be
Who I’ve grown to be
Who I may die to be.

Amanda Pensiero
Faculty Member

Phone Calls Make me Angry and Tired

An ex-wife hearing of imminent death. An interpreter conveys another failed spontaneous breathing trial. Again, a son and daughter ask why he cannot receive convalescent plasma. I lay awake hearing the words of a terrified husband- “you are my doctor, thank you”. I prepare for another day’s sorrow with an open heart and empty soul.

Noah Rosenberg
Medical Student

Essential

What keeps
the essential workers
essential?

We the intra-helpers,
the holders
of space. Lovers of
the unloved and unlovable. We
the givers of dream transfusions.
Volunteer souls.

Hope transplants.

Social workers
donning the same scrubs,
the same masks,
the same gear.

Turning to look
into the faces of fear
looking into
the faces of fear.

Steven T. Licardi, LMSW
Behavioral Health Clinician

For The Kulture

2020 was supposed to be the year of manifestation.
A pandemic shook the table and brought endless devastation.

Tragedy took Kobe and Pop Smoke.
COVID took my stepfather and the rest of my folk.

As humans, we all matter.
But all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.

Tilicea Henry
Medical Student

Ingenuity

He was tired and wanted to go home. This was his 14th hospitalization in 3 years. He wanted his wife, his bed and his food. We could always do more. He wanted less. The pandemic made everything uncertain. No one was wearing masks yet. But Mr C did. Cancer might get him, but coronavirus wouldn’t.

R. Michelle Schmidt, MD, MPH
Faculty Member

Secure unit dialectic

Looming over her,
Yellow gown, masked,
Breath misting plastic, I barely hear:

“I can’t breathe”.
Intergenerational despair.

“Can I have my clothes?”
Crumpled on the mattress, tugging the
Baby doll around her,
“It’s for safety”, says the white nurse.
Stripped of identity
Like her ancestors.
Isolation again.
She hugs herself;
No budget for kind words.

Lisa Burback
Academic Psychiatrist

Steel to Skin

You were excited to see me. And I? Your knee.
Propofol administered.
You called me a king; pride for me was heavier than the shackles removed.
I was envious.
We did not differ too much.
I have been on their treasure hunt for years.
Hopefully, one day, I jump through enough hoops to find my keys.

Medical Student

2020: A Visionless Summer

Summer solace in pandemic solitude.

Are you okay?
I just want you to know…
I don’t understand…
Teach me.
I don’t want to be…
BLM.

Everyone is pr[a]ying.
Different agenda, same power.
I miss my underground freedom.
This newfound love is suffocating me.
Mask off. No more hiding…
Yet, I still can’t breathe.

Jason Mascoe
Medical Student

Earth-Shattering Career Obstacles

We are sorry, you did not match to any position.

Tunnel vision, seasick, mute, colorless world.

Pick up pieces, stand tall, and persevere.

Covid-19 siphon energy, dissolve opportunity.

Covid-19 deaths, screams, financial burden, social isolation.

Covid-19 innovation, virtual togetherness, newfound unity.

Develop dedication, enhance grit, broaden resourcefulness.

I am strong. We are COVID strong.

Joseph Toth
Medical Student

July 14, 2020: International Non-Binary People’s Day

I told them my name and preferred pronouns, they responded in kind.
“Pleasure to meet you.”
They said they volunteered teaching medical students about pronouns
And smiled saying, “I’m glad to see it’s working.”

“They are coming in to follow up on their chronic headaches.” I presented to my attending.
“What do you mean they?”

Jason Spicher
Medical Student

The First Patient

Gasping, “Something’s wrong …. lungs”
Southern visitor to ER up North.
Has COVID-19 arrived here?
Frightened, don PPE, too late.
Lips quiver behind N95 masks.
Family sent home to quarantine, intubated alone.
Last words, “Thank you… for what you do….. I hope….. you will be OK”
Great compassion. He fights but dies.
It’s not OK.

Alisa Hayes
Faculty Member

Act Now

I Can’t Breath. Please Help.
COVID-19 or police chokehold.
Emergency Medicine doctors- we see it all. Rush to aid.
Give oxygen, intubate, CT scan, medication?
What can we do? Anything? Powerlessness.
Coronavirus and systemic racism.
We can witness, We can feel, We can give voice to our patients.
Act with what energy and time remains.

Alisa Hayes
Faculty Member

Touching patients in the time of COVID-19

It has been opined (by Doctors Osler, Lipkin, Charon, Ofri, and even Dr. Oz) that the “laying on of hands” by the physician during a therapeutic encounter with a patient is critical for establishing rapport and promoting healing; the so-called Loving Touch.

I am fearful that my elbow bumps are not up to the task.

Jeffrey G. Wong, MD
Faculty Member

The Wake Up Call

The asylum tree whence fell
Viands make, the sentry’s woodpile sell
The recrudescing baleful storms let rake
Of the falsity refuge yet seeking, leccy make
Unto the deific call, ever wake?
The Self unto the self else forsake?
The rolling fickle billow like, not rise and fall
Heed thou ergo the prodding Parnassian wake-up call!

Sailaja Devaguptapu
Senior Researcher

“Rinse and Repeat”

Wake up, get up, login, treat
Hear their stories
Uncertainty, oppression, chaos, defeat
Fearful eyes, painful voices
Gulping reality one sip at a time like scalding coffee
Listen, support, find common ground
Fatigue rising, shields engaging, boundaries setting
Wake up, get up, login, treat

Israel M. Labao, MD, MPH
Resident

Pandemic

Do you have a fever?
No
Do you have any shortness of breath or trouble breathing?
No
Do you have any changes in your taste or smell?
No
Do you have any symptoms you want to talk about?
No
Do you have any questions for me?
My test came back positive, should I be worried?

Jiajun Li
Student

Masked

The world had changed
The masks I only used to see in the hospital
Are now commonplace in public
Everyone thinks so much is hidden behind the mask
But from experience, I know
It’s not as different as it seems
I can see still their smiles in their eyes

Jiajun Li
Student

Virtual Connections

Apart but still together
These connections already exist
We were just afraid to try something different
until there is no alternative
Some say there’s no replacement for the face-to-face
Some say the connection is weak
Not real, as its name would imply
But it turns out
Sometimes, an imitation
a Virtual connection is good enough

Jiajun Li
Student

This is Recovery

“Most people recover” they say “This virus is no big deal.”
I see recovered COVID patients everyday; heart failure, kidney failure, liver injury, pulmonary embolisms.
Do people know?
That this is recovery.
I drive home past packed restaurants and bars.
The hospital is full. So where will these people go when they are recovering?

Amanda F. Tompkins
Medical Student

The Masks We Wear

We all wear masks in this office.

Some are made from cloth, others woven from experience.

The patient’s experiences of discrimination, desperation and dismissal
casting his face in fear.

The physician’s experiences of listening, ignoring, and rejecting
hardening her face in false empathy.

My experience as powerless witness
painting my face in a silent scream.

Rebecca Allen
Medical Student

The Song and The Breath

Breath bestows a voice to song,
But song was in the air,
Then captured by the wings
That beat as long as they could bear.
As beauty is carried in body,
So song is carried in breath;
In time, when breath has ceased then, know
The song has already left.

Alexander Thomas
Medical Student

Happiness Reset 2020

Vacation “Home” for vacation,
Working in, for, and from “home.”
Cooking added dopamine in dishes,
Cleaning is a new mindfulness.
“Zoom” is a new craving,
“Facetime” with family and friends is my free CBT,
“Old Fashioned” “New Yorker” “Netflix” are chips of micro-happiness,
Ongoing systole for hedonic treadmill
is now replaced with COVIDiastole.
“COVID” is a “Midas touch.”

Vijay Rajput
Faculty Member

day after day after day

Up before dawn
Head strong
The weight of a heavy coat
Upon her shoulders
The weight of daily suffering
Entrenched in her heart
Peeling away layers
Exposes deeply etched scars
Left behind by this life of service
The head knows it’s true
The heart pretends it will pass
The scars tell a different story

Kimberley Williamson
Registered Nurse

Boston Hope Music

When the pandemic struck, we were stopped in our tracks. Is music still relevant? Are the arts still relevant? Then the melodies began flowing again. Music is never silenced. We played together again to bring wellness to Covid patients and to restore wellness in ourselves. A way of healing, giving back, restoring our disrupted world.

Lisa Wong
Faculty Member

Unsettled Entrance

March 2020 was a cold and uneasy time. We arrived to the hospital with no one in the hallways, only a screener to greet us on the frontlines.
“Do you have any fever, cough, or shortness of breath?” No symptoms, sir.
“Any contacts with someone with COVID19?” I don’t know, we do not have testing.

Juliette Perzhinsky, MD, MSc
Faculty Member

My Frontline

I don’t work in the ER.
Nor in the ICU.
The traditional “COVID frontline,”
displayed on CNN,
is not my daily experience.
January was routine medication checks.
March became crisis management,
keeping stable depression and paranoia
in a depressed and paranoid pandemic.
I don’t work on traditional “frontlines,”
but
mental health frontlines hurt too.

Marissa Flaherty, MD
Faculty Member

What Am I Missing?

Why do your lungs still look like this? Why does your heart still race like this? What am I missing? Who are you behind these closed eyes? How do I prepare your family for the cries? What am I missing? I see you every day yet feel you drifting further away. What am I missing?

Elena Zamora
Resident

In The Shadow of the Pandemic

Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer.
Think of disease, what comes to mind?
In Pandemics, we are forced to ration access to care.
With masks and protective equipment, we combat a virus.
But has this increased vigilance, made us partially blind.
A scourge still overlooked by society,
Substance use disorder, so many still suffering and dying.

Rebecca Hamburger
Student

Kultaj Kaleka, RN
Faculty Member

Juliette Perzhinsky, MD, MSc
Faculty Member

The Veteran’s Wife

On worn waiting room chairs, I held her thin, papery hand- gold band secured between arthritic knots. “No, you can’t stay with him. No visitors.” Isolation, protocol, pandemic- excuses that could not excuse tearing apart the decades of tucked midnight embraces. Milky halos encompassing the blueness of her eyes. A blink, a departure, alone.

Rebecca Tuttle, MD MS
Faculty Member

Presentation

I have no idea,
It could be,
It is most likely,
Presentation is most consistent with.

You could have,
You might have,
You are at risk for,
You are diagnosed with.

We suggest,
We recommend,
We will order,
We prescribed.

Anything else I can help you with,
Do you have any questions…
How are you?

Hannah Mulvey Ferrera
Medical Student

First day of school

The box arrives after dark. Parts eagerly scattered across the floor. Fat black cushions. Gyrating legs. So many classic plastic wheels. Calling it an office chair is unimaginative. A throne? Facetious. A saddle, perhaps? Screws twisted. Joints locked. A lovingly assembled new home. I climb in and spin around, ready for the long journey ahead.

Benjamin French
Medical Student

One in a Million

POSITIVE.
A lightening bolt in my electronic health record.
Covid – still early, we know so little.
Masked, scrubbed, extra cautious.
Quarantine.
Temperature checks.
Symptom monitoring.
Worrying about exposed family.
Daily Health Department check-ins
The national numbers have reached one million.
Days pass, my birthday in quarantine
My daughter sends a cake.
I celebrate being okay.

Karen Szauter
Administrator

A Brief Reminder

“I’m a fighter,” she says, blisters across expanses of skin, like the illness is trying to climb its way out. “Remember this: surround yourself with the right people. Because I didn’t.”

Later, I stand on my balcony, alone. My hands are full, people I love available at the swipe of a finger. The world spins.

Jennifer Li
Medical Student

The Hoax

Stone-faced and somber, the new patient sat behind the partition with an untrusting glare. “Are you scared I’m gonna choke you?” “No sir, just trying to keep us both safe from the virus”. “Oh, that hoax everyone keeps talking about”? One side of his mouth curls upwards in amusement. Just another day in forensic psychiatry.

Scott Leary, MS4
Medical Student

When Bees Swarm

We can no longer stay here. It is not right.
Being treated by a different standard for bringing my own PPE.
But I want to protect myself, my patients, and my family.
Am I really doing wrong by advocating during a pandemic?
I want to fly with my swarm,
but where are they?

Juliette Perzhinsky, MD, MSc
Faculty Member

Auscultation

An unexpected gift, inadvertent sounds from unmuted classmates—
rhythms like palpitations as a car drives past his window,
a quiet voice asks what time she’d like dinner,
the stuttering of a chair pulled closer to the table,
fluttering of flipped pages, skittering steps of pets;
the small intimacies of our
virtuality

Elizabeth Jakubowski
Medical Student

Back to work

“ You must be frontline”
With guilt
“ I am doing televisits for now”
The hospital is eerie and quiet outside
Once inside
You forget
Residents crowd together
Affording comfort
And normalcy
You stand close to an upset father
To explain and assuage
On your way home
You are haunted by his maskless face

Madhura Pradhan, MD
Faculty Member

Can You See It?

We give each other company, Fear and I
Sometimes in the absence of others,
Sometimes in a room so full, you cannot see your own feet

Fear can take a lifetime to wrangle away
But one moment, one instance
Leaves us vulnerable to Fear’s claws
Claws sunk so deep, you feel them with every breath.

Nikitha Pothireddy
Medical Student

Fever

She can’t stay seated, fake lashes concealing tears.
Her husband is at home due to the pandemic restrictions.
Oh, my baby, she screams, aerosolizing her grief into the room.
The diagnosis slowly bruises her mind like leukemia into her son’s body.
He’s our youngest. He still sleeps with us.
She wishes he had COVID-19 instead.

Benjamin Drum
Resident

Flexed to Inpatient

I cut my nails to the quick that night. God forbid my body betray me or my family, virus somewhere I couldn’t scrub clean. The morning: first COVID patient, ICU transfer, her survival a blessing, her gratitude shattering. Remembering my oath, I leaned stethoscope close, listened, touched. Finally—home. Scalding shower. Called kids; dinner alone.

Sarah L. Clever, MD, MS, FACP
Faculty Member

Medical School in the COVID era

I wake up at 7:45. I shower while listening to two Teddy-Afro songs. I get dressed. I quickly type in the password to my computer and pull up my zoom. I yawn, sip my instant coffee, and glance over at the picture of me and my mom. I smile and turn on my camera.

Maranatha Genet
Medical Student

July Intern

We’re a month in, but I still don’t really know any of you.
“These people will become your family,” I’m told over and over. To be fair, I haven’t gotten to see my actual family outside of video chats, either, so maybe it’s still true.
The top one-third of your faces seem very kind, though.

Hannah R. Dischinger
Resident

Class of 2021

I am ready.
I have passed my exams and performed well in the core clerkships.
I am motivated, young, healthy.
Put me to work. I can help.
But I am stuck at home. Useless.
Quarantined with my knowledge and experience.
Mere months from finishing my training.
We are an untapped resource and we are ready.

Rachel Fields
Medical Student

Responsibilities

I have a child, husband, elderly parents, job.
Work with colleagues, residents, students, and COVID.
Busy days…lots of responsibilities.
No more vacations, no more school.
Now fear of infection is the reality.
Now fear of infecting my family is the reality.
Have to stay healthy, optimistic, strong.
I am a mother, wife, daughter, and doctor.

Doris Lin
Faculty Member

COVID19 Musings as Haiku

1.
Science non grata
Lack of trust cuts deeper now
How did we get here?

2.
Not doing enough
Colleagues suffer, I am spared
Guilt laced tears fall down

3.
Fear of the unknown
Waiting, hoping all will clear
Calm before the storm

4.
Quiet clinic rooms
Missing laughter, hugs, and smiles
New normal too still

Nicole Kucine
Faculty Member

Manifested Worry

Her pupils widen at his radiant coat,
And body winces at devices dangling about his throat.

Showing demeanor of an impending escape or brawl,
I’m sure her perspiration is mostly cortisol.

As previous traumas amplify current fears,
The only diagnostic tools he can rely upon are his ears.

Rachel Roy
Medical Student

Coronavirus through the eyes of a 7-year old

How hard it is to stay home.
I think about how we are all participating and doing the right thing. I appreciate that lots of peoples lives will be saved in hospitals because of you. Don’t you ever wish that coronavirus wasn’t here and that there were no viruses in the world?
Can you imagine that?

Lauren Fine, MD (in collaboration with Emma Fine)
Faculty Member

One Step at a Time in NYC

Unwound, we were and still are unraveling. In many ways, we feel paralyzed in March forever.
There’s a fire burning in the distance. What has happened to my city? Try to stare at the screen. Distant sirens ring. Just try to focus. A three digit score can give you the world- what’s left of it.

Zoha Huda
Medical Student

Connection heals

These days you understand me more than before
We long for the loved ones who we’re not able to see
We worry for them
We look tired in the mornings, wondering all night how next day will be
But everyday your warm thoughts melt my plastic costume
So happy to see each other again

Dana Giza
Fellow

ZoomMed: A Place to Meet New Friends?

Zoom. Botched audio, reactions delayed. The way “genuine” connections start these days.

Pre-med, curly hair, Atlanta – the topics of discussion. 1.5 hours, I realized I’d found a good person.

A person who’s genuine, kind, and shares quite a few interests of mine.
A person whose friendship I could see standing the test of time.

Sydni Williams
Medical Student

Eyewitness to detonation

We were both wearing masks when I evaluated you—a 90-something year-old WWII veteran.
You were only 20 serving in an airborne bombing squad. What was it like to be a witness to the first nuclear bomb to detonate in war?
You heartrendingly shared that the fallout killed many and this COVID19 pandemic felt similar.

Juliette Perzhinsky, MD, MSc, Faculty Member
Rebecca Hamburger, Medical Student

Sacrifices

I could list each sacrifice made studying medicine on my fingers. Late studying, lesser parties, fewer friends.

Now, I watch professionals self-isolate in garages. Others explain quitting. A mentor describes sinophobic experiences. My mother recovers to alleviate her coworkers’ burden. Friends attend morning funerals online, studying at night.

Sacrifice is too messy for one finger.

Shubhi Singh
Medical Student

Here – An Ode to Parenting the “OTHER”

We are the brea (d) th of Evolution, Creation and The Divine.
Generations before us, molded this For-Ever-ness of Us. Thriving, excelling, and flourishing. We Breathe.
Carving Tomorrows. Creating Flourish. For those who come after Us.
“Here. We are still. Here.”

Adwoa Osei, MD FAAP
Faculty Member

The Time for Family

My daughter just turned one. She likes to play pull-the-mask-off-mommy’s-face. We stayed home from March to June, took clerkships online, sat for boards, got a puppy, read a lot of Winnie-the-Pooh and Goodnight Moon. I became essential. I got what I longed for – family, and a course in courage, reflection, and how-to-be-a-Mom.

Laura Jorgenson
Medical Student

Distance

Distance from each other…
But are we distant from the invisible virus?
Fighting a battle with an enemy with a new guise.
Will medical knowledge and technology change the course THIS time?
In the end, will this new enemy change the way of being…
Or maybe through these perils, we will understand our own essence.

Nivedita Thakur, MD
Faculty Member

Are You OK?

Minneapolis is eighty miles away, so these events literally hit close to home. As a black man, it can be uncommon for others to be concerned about my safety. Many of my colleagues asked how they can show solidarity. I am grateful for these bright lights during this dark moment in our country’s history.

Suliman EL-Amin
Fellow

Out of One’s Mind

My grandfather calls my father for the third time. He does not remember the previous calls. He’s scared and doesn’t know why he is in the nursing home, even though this has been his home for the past year. He thinks the staff is keeping something from him. He thinks he may have the virus.

Olivia A Murray
Medical Student

ALL THE MEN

… who said she couldn’t:
Survive medical school: “you’re not a good test-taker”
Obtain a fellowship: “must have ‘connections’ ”
Direct a program: “young, inexperienced”
Run a board meeting: “you don’t know enough”
…who cheered her on:
Holding her son, husband’s hand on her back, her father’s words remembered:
“You’re a strong woman”.

Taraneh Soleymani, MD
Faculty Member

Working Remotely….Month 5

It’s Monday morning and I must attend another Zoom conference of multiple heads on a monitor. Some participants don’t use video. Disrespectful? Bad WiFi? Not Dressed? Eating breakfast? Opportunity for multitasking? What’s the best way to engage remotely? On-line polling or breakout rooms? I feel desperate for a real connection, I need a hug.

Kathleen Nelson
Administrator

The Beauty of a Shared Moment

“The treatment isn’t working anymore” I say.
“That’s quite alright.” she says.
“Would you like to see the chaplain?”
“Later.” A tear runs down her cheek. “Can you pray with me?”
I’ve never been religious, but I sit down, hold her hand, close my eyes and let the peace silence brings wash over us.

Onyebuchi Okeke
Medical Student

Tissue?

My patient who can’t speak can’t have her husband visit.
Her kidney is failing.
She started to cry.
I couldn’t give her a hug.
Between glasses, masks, a shield, I’m part of a faceless team.
A tissue passed between gloved hands serves as empathy.
Who gets used to this?
I don’t know that I can.

Jennifer Ferrante
Medical Student

The Advising Dean

I cannot wipe your tears on Zoom or place my hand on your shoulders as you tell me about the death. If I was in your presence, I would not be able to come by your side. I can only comfort you with my voice and teach you what I know about life and medicine.

Gauri Agarwal
Administrator

Med-student Do not Forget: The Strength of our Physician Formation

Butterfly= Physician
Chrysalis= Formation

It was dark inside, harsh noises outside.
Strong winds—a hurricane— stealing my breath away,
depriving the light of tomorrow.
It is my time, time to get out.
A droplet reflects my wings,
Are they broken or are they stronger?
I take a jump and soar high; I learn and fight.

Vivian V. Altiery De Jesús, MBE
Medical Student

Quiet

His wife takes notes with shaky hands.” Kidneys – stable; cancer – progressing.”
“I don’t want you to be in intensive care unit again.”
I don’t want it either.
“Consider hospice?”

Six months later, a letter:
“We appreciated your
patience, your
counsel, your
gentle manner,
the e-messages after hours.

“It is too quiet around here without Randy.”

Gurwant Kaur
Faculty Member

Swan

I think she’s Punjabi
Rare around here
Chatting after the appointment
I’ve missed this connection
She asks for my name again
Last name, too? I give it
Faced with her confusion, I repeat myself
She doesn’t understand
Realize I’m pronouncing it like I’m white, not Indian
I correct, try to explain
Have I forgotten myself?

Anmol Hans
Medical Student

Outreach to Whom

Hello.

Hello, it’s strange. Visits over the phone.

How are you?

Ok. We haven’t talked since it started.

The children?

Trying their best.

I understand. Must be difficult. A lot of changes.

Yes. Too many changes. And you?

Safe. I hope you are as well. That’s why I’m calling. And my breathing is getting better.

Ann Lee
Faculty Member

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