Explore JAMA’s A Piece of My Mind essays, real-life stories from physicians about the joys and challenges of practicing medicine in the modern era.
In this essay, an oncologist’s describes how he uses the concept of positive deviance and Kaplan-Meier curves in face of treatment obstacles that seem insurmountable.
In this narrative medicine essay, a psychiatrist describes the defenses he uses against the emotional toll of long days of patient care and recalls a traumatic childhood memory that helps him understand his patients’ fears and anxieties and those of their families.
This personal narrative describes a physician’s experience of preparing a video of an echocardiogram for the child of a dying parent.
This Arts and Medicine feature describes use of author Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Girl” in narrative medicine workshops to help residents explore hierarchies and the challenges of growing up professionally in their medical training programs.
In this narrative medicine essay, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician shares her experience parenting her youngest daughter, deaf from exposure to congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) and the joys and struggles guiding the care and development of a child with hearing impairment.
This essay describes a difficult conversation between a physician and her son on his diagnosis of diabetes.
This article describes the experiences of a first-year oncology fellow’s experience as he treats his first patient.
This Perspective describes the role of caregivers and how they work with physicians in caring for patients.
In this narrative medicine essay, a gastroenterologist describes the challenge of diagnosing a partner in his clinic with pancreatic cancer, which came a day short of the median time patients present and are diagnosed with the disease, and reflects on the positive example his colleague had on him, his career, and on the other physicians working at the clinic.
This essay describes the author’s challenges in predicting treatment courses for patients.
In this narrative medicine essay, an obstetrician-gynecologist struggles with the overwhelming strains of her profession, family obligations, and struggling marriage that together buried her sense of empathy until a grateful patient hugs her, an expression that reaches what she feared had been long extinguished.
This essay describes the wisdom and insights gained while treating a woman with metastatic lung cancer.
In this narrative medicine essay, a dermatologist recalls his moments with his grandmother a fierce educator and administrator in the New York City Schools who taught him about life and death with advice and by example and whom he helped guide through her transition at 96 years—proud to be her medical advocate, sad to let her go.
In this narrative medicine essay, a pediatrician recalls his time in rural Pennsylvania serving Amish and Mennonite children, the peace and purpose he found in the slower-paced environment, and the connection with his patients and his vocation reaffirmed with each simple wave of acknowledgment from a stranger or a child in a hospital.
This essay describes a medical physicist’s interaction with a patient and the profound effect that even the smallest patient interactions can have on health care professionals.
This essay describes a standard question from medical school interviews that first annoyed and then held special insight for the author.
In this narrative medicine essay, a physiatrist recalls his role in telling his wife of her diagnosis of metastatic ovarian cancer, his support during her inexorable decline, and how the experiences of her passing drew his family closer, nurtured his appreciation for relationships, the wonder of nature, and the renewed sense of connection to the world.
In this narrative medicine essay, a critical care physician works through lessons he learned from his experience with a man with end-stage lung disease going into terminal respiratory failure who consented to intubation only if he had a chance for a lung transplant and considers how to balance patient autonomy with medical paternalism when good outcomes are unlikely and the best decisions are uncertain.
In this essay, an internal medicine physician describes caring for a patient who became one of the city’s top medical care users after becoming homeless.
In this essay, the author reflects on lessons learned from a patient with metastatic lung cancer who wanted to have a baby.
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