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

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,
He booms,
Hold on…
I still need to…
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

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


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


What keeps
the essential workers

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


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…

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


Do you have a fever?
Do you have any shortness of breath or trouble breathing?
Do you have any changes in your taste or smell?
Do you have any symptoms you want to talk about?
Do you have any questions for me?
My test came back positive, should I be worried?

Jiajun Li


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

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

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,”
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

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

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


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

A lightening bolt in my electronic health record.
Covid – still early, we know so little.
Masked, scrubbed, extra cautious.
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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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 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?

The nurses in the CCU
used to make their calls
at 4 a.m.: “Come in at once.”
Loved ones would hurry in
just in time
told hold a hand.
But now the spouses,
lying all alone at home,
listen to the dreaded midnight
message on the telephone,
then try, but fail,
to fall asleep again.

Suliman EL-Amin

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


… 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

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


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

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


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


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, 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

For Once

For Once, I take a
Moment for our nature.
To see stories unspoken
Behind smiling eyes.
To finally forget
The lip’s wasted language
and other luxuries.

For once I find myself
In meditation
Observing human harmony
Within the realm of discord.

For once
I take a moment for myself
To take in the natural world.

John Newman
Medical Student

The N95

Words escape in muffled
unintelligible sounds
with breath that’s
puffed and pushed
to pluck some meaning
from the noise.
Then sucking hard
to find the oxygen
inside the small blue crown
that sits upon my lips
and stains my cheeks
with pain in service
to my lungs
to stop the silent plague
from getting in.

Elizabeth Mitchell
Faculty Member


Called a “Hero”
While just doing my job…
The career I chose,
Before chaos stroke.

If I had just been that hero,
To make it all stop,
Hopelessness wouldn’t have robbed,
Who this pandemic longed for.

I was no hero after all.
I just fulfilled the vow I vowed:
To help others…

At what cost?

Rosa Lizeth Frias
Medical Student

Clinic is more confusing

Unmasked in my office behind a closed door, I still feel safe. Beyond, into the aerosol wedged between us doctoring has become risky. Physical examination is now dangerous. Your masked fears and mine behind a faceshield, attend carefully to your story. What is your illness? Is it the new one? Or one we knew before?

Lara Ronan
Faculty Member


She lies in bed, chest rising and falling,
Her breath the sound of sweeping
Through glass shards.
On her window the patter
Of rain overlies a scene of budding
Leaves along the Huron.

This is how they pass.
In isolation.
The white gown
A forerunner to the shroud.
The last breaths turbulent
Before ascension.

Natalie Ailene Moreno
Medical Student

You Can’t Be Here

I’m sorry
You can’t be by your loved one’s side
You can’t be here
The virus looms here
You can’t give one last touch
You can’t give one last kiss
You will have to just watch
As breath slows, the heart slows
Then stops
You can’t be here
The Virus looms here.

Stephen Paul Wood

First Step in a Pandemic

Familiar blue and white screen. Blocks and explanations that stopped connecting one pandemic ago. Inside is turmoil but outside is pure chaos. Do questions or ask questions of the world? Why weren’t we prepared, why are my people dying or, what causes clots to form? Will I get these answers now or after the MD?

Azana Newman
Medical Student


Alone. Days, weeks, months. Intimate familiarity with architecture. Waking up to a repeat sing song, “I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared.”
Is that bird chirping my anxieties?
A world-wide panic attack. We are all alone together. Memories lay down on new moments and time becomes a thing to ponder. Weeks, months, years. Alone?

Chase Crossno
Faculty Member


Death, everywhere. In NY, my home, in the hospital, the world. I cry for the losses: weddings, birthdays, family, life. I cry for the people who choose to doubt instead of support. As if we chose this field not to help but to make political statements. I cry for patients: scared, confused, sick. I cry.

Danielle Cirillo

Chaos and Confusion in a Pandemic

How does it spread? How can I stay safe?
Am I infected? Was I exposed?
Will I recover?
Stay 6 feet apart. Stay 3 feet apart.
Those asymptomatic can’t spread the infection.
On second thought, yes, they can.
We wait, we experience, we try to learn, but yet, still none of us know the answers.

Rachel Fields
Medical Student

July Attending 2020

Now with mask and face shield but no patient interactions for five months,
are these newly minted third year medical students ready for clerkships? Am I ready?
Imprinting: watch me closely but not too closely. Grow and be yourselves.
I pray, let the enthusiasm for the profession persist in these young minds and hearts.

Rebecca R. Pauly, MD
Faculty Member


Prospects darkened pre-pandemic.
Foggy thoughts clouded the brilliant mind.
Weathered hurricanes that came with destructive fury but did depart.
Exempted by age. Isolated for safety. Exhausted by the marathon.
Surrounded with gale-force pressures. Tasks demanded. Teams prepared.
Would a hug have squeezed out the insidious inside?
Social distance maintained. Thunderous goodbye. Yet, unheard.
COVID slain.


COVID-Exacerbated Purposelessness

March 13: Another waitlist.

March 15: Lockdown tomorrow. Grocery store trip.

March 16: Unemployed.

March 22: Offering to reschedule your wedding.

May 6: Wedding… is… postponed. No acceptances… No job…

June 2: Off the waitlist!

June 5: Zoom courthouse wedding!

June 6: Cross-country move!

July 15: Welcome to MS1!



Poke a hole in the sky, now
On air in mid-air,
Words warped by the warp.
Vexing window,
I should be grateful
For such sci-fi conjury.
Do what I can with invisible hands.
In a viral environ,
Reins far-flung up close.
On a phlegmatic circuit,
We look through the tunnel,
The simulacrum of healing.

Michael Stephen Miller, MD
Faculty Member

Student doctors and more

“Only” student doctors, always overseen.
Gained confidence from clerkships, no longer green.
But – “only” student doctors – and pulled from hospitals.
Look back on your journey! We’re not so brittle.
PPE donated, contacts traced, patients screened.
Though not in the hospital, we have done this and more,
After all, we are student doctors
And more.

David Gao
Medical Student

Where Do We Seek Refuge Now?

1998: Hiding in the attic. “Shhhh,” Baba whispered. “No refugees here,” Jordanian police said.
1999: Mama said “America where people are free and safe” accepted us.
2020: Pandemic. Despair. Racism. 7,791 miles. Iraq to America. Still not enough to escape injustice.
White coat hangs, symbolizing the force that preserves life, instead of destroying it.

Shams Nassir
Medical Student

No One Untouched

“You need to come now.” I hang up the phone having just shattered Sam’s life and forty year marriage. He blames himself. If only he’d seen her at the nursing facility he would have known something was wrong sooner. But the virus kept him away. A death not due to COVID, but tainted by it.

Jennifer Caputo-Seidler
Faculty Member

False Advertisement

Never ending war, repression of basic human rights, and scarce quality education pushed my family to leave our home and risk imprisonment and the dangers of human trafficking. The US beckoned with abundant opportunities from across the Atlantic, masking the reality that it will always reduce me to the color of my skin first.

Daniom Tecle
Medical Student

Virtually Impossible Grief

My intern and I stand with an ipad to facetime the family -too far away, with travel restrictions. The grandmother starts to keen at the sight of her boy. He is too still now, fixed and dilated, only ventilator breaths. “He cannot be that!” broken English, broken hearts, broken composure and we all weep together.

Katherine Mason
Faculty Member

Making Do

A duckbill mask filled with the pale blue remnants of what were once elastic straps. Through punched holes, I weave thin strips of Coban and tie ugly little knots. My hair twists mutinously around these new, cumbersome straps. I swear I hear the sickly snap of each breaking strand. I never liked arts and crafts.

Nina Lemieux
Medical Student

Patient – from Latin for “one who suffers”

Can’t remember his name or surgery. Multiple pages about his irritated eyes. Internal bleeding patient took priority. Hours later I make it to his room. He looked at me through his eye watering. “I’m alright, Doc. I don’t have pain. But if you could give me something for my eye, I sure would appreciate it.”

Mike M Mallah

It Happens, Even in a Pandemic

We were two friends starting off our very first rotation. She is white and I am Indian, which made the difference. The questions started immediately.

“But where are you from?” “Are you Dr. Ahmed’s daughter?” “Love your tan skin.”

Though they were harmless, my friend never got these comments. It happens, even in a pandemic.

Meha Shah
Medical Student

Despairing Monotony

For me, the allure of an Infectious Diseases career was twofold: the somewhat guilty thrill of the differential diagnosis, paired with and mitigated by the fact that cure was typically within grasp. COVID-19 robbed me of these gratifications: diagnostic mystery and the capacity to heal. Practicing during the pandemic has been a dreadful, despairing monotony.

Emily Abdoler
Faculty Member

A Story Erased

Their dream was medicine, but it was not easy. They failed and tried again multiple times. The feeling that came with their success was immeasurable. All the sleepless nights, the stress, sacrifices, and hard work paid off. Then they hear “its easier for you because of your ethnicity.” Just like that, their story was erased.

Sanga Shir
Medical Student

Caught Useless

Seventy-something, Italian immigrant, dementia. In the COVID pandemic, there are no activities, nothing open. He worsens. Me, a soon-to-be medical student, but the lack of an MD degree stings. I cannot help my grandfather, nor dying COVID patients. If I spent a year convincing schools I am qualified, then why do I feel so useless?


Providing Comfort

Hair cap, N95, surgical face mask, face shield.
My daily armor
I smile, but they cannot see.
My eyes are all that are available
No family, no friends allowed; they are alone and afraid.
Compassion and love
From my soul, through my touch and my eyes
I hope to provide.

Kavita Shah
Faculty Member

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