Explore this long-running JAMA series devoted to telling stories about the joys, challenges, and hidden truths of practicing medicine in the modern era.
In this narrative medicine essay, a critical care and palliative care physician draws a valuable lesson about the limits and beauty of last-ditch interventions after failing to save a fledgling hummingbird chick in its nest.
In this narrative medicine essay, a physician explores a persistent memory of a high school peer who staked all on creativity as a value that physicians and future physicians ought to tap into to resolve today’s strife as healers.
In this narrative medicine essay a family physician recalls her bereavement after a pregnancy loss and her slow process of healing through mentoring and lasting relationships with premed students, following their lives and careers with the same pride as a parent.
In this narrative medicine essay, a critical care fellow returning to the ICU after burying her grandmother learns that grief does not conform to clinical schedules and efficiencies, having instead its own pace and melody, like the songs on violin she loved to performed for her beloved Gram.
In this narrative medicine essay, a senior faculty investigator describes common reactions to her visible disability and calls for recruitment of a diverse workforce into academic medicine’s workforce and leadership positions to normalize physical differences immaterial to the pursuit of outstanding science and patient care.
In this narrative medicine essay a medical student recalls discovering the power of meaningful palliative care, contrasting patients’ relief from suffering through caring and comfort with her father’s awful experience of pain and neglect in his closing days.
In this narrative medicine essay, an emergency medical physician describes the lasting physical symptoms of a mild case of COVID-19, the effects of the illness on his family and professional community, and the lessons he’s learned about caring for symptomatic patients with normal test results.
In this narrative medicine essay, an internist shares how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the work-life balance she had attained and how the metaphor of aortic dissection—shear forces tearing arterial layers apart, managed with blood pressure—gave her a means to imagine how to reduce the opposing forces in her life on the way toward equilibrium.
In this narrative medicine essay, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) clinician uses the resignation of BWH's president from Moderna's board of directors after a stock sale reportedly paying her millions to question why leaders of academic medical centers are allowed to develop lucrative relationships with industry that prioritize mutual profits over patient well-being and public health.
In this narrative medicine essay a cardiologist with a previously treated astrocytoma describes his thoughts and fears of managing a tumor recurrence when he experiences frightening symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this narrative medicine essay, a surgical oncologist describes the erosion of her confidence when patients and colleagues question her abilities or ignore her contributions based on her diminutive stature and sex and suggests that colleagues offer encouragement and praise to help stay further damage.
In this narrative medicine essay, a critical care pediatrician tells the story of knitting needle puncture in a 3-year-old boy’s chest that barely missed his main pulmonary artery, and wonders at the seemingly random difference between his operable injury and the alternative, seemingly equally probable fatal outcome.
In this narrative medicine essay a medical student describes similarities between a challenging high school wilderness isolation camping trip and her experience in isolation with and recovering from COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic in New York.
In this narrative medicine essay a cardiology fellow shares his deep appreciation for a primary care physician who recognized his chest pain as anxiety related and draws lessons for how physicians of all specialties can help patients with somatic symptoms from COVID-19 pandemic-related uncertainties.
In this narrative medicine essay, a hospitalist charts his emotional journey from March comparing the elation in seeing the once brightly colored signs that declared hospital workers as heroes with the now faded signs reflecting how the protracted intense work makes COVID-19 feel mundane.
In this narrative medicine essay, a psychologist recounts how she found her voice through writing and in patient care advocacy and research and how she helped her son, who has Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, find his voice when young, but now he is taking over his own narrative as a young adult.
In this narrative medicine essay, a neurologist relates the story of her miscarriage while touring immigration detention centers in Texas documenting medical care and human rights violations and shares her deep sorrow for the women who lost children either by force or miscarriages while incarcerated.
In this narrative medicine essay a father recalls the traumatic death of his healthy young son and the steps he and his family took to overcome their guilt, repair their relationships, and honor the boy’s life.
In this narrative medicine essay, a medical student describes her experience growing up with a leg prosthesis and requiring orthopedic procedures to maintain her limb growth and describes reactions to her disability from uncomprehending peers and mentors in her medical training.
In this narrative medicine essay, an emergency department physician faces her daily dread of donning PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic by recalling her grandfather’s gear when diving into Idaho mine shafts and compares his heroism fighting for miners’ rights to safety and wonders what he would think of calling health care workers on the frontlines heroes.
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