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A Piece of My Mind
April 27, 2011

Paracentesis by Moonlight

JAMA. 2011;305(16):1635-1636. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.472

Filled with the serene confidence befitting a medicine resident at the tail end of residency, I leaned back in the sole reclining chair of the resident room while settling in for my last night on duty. A full moon reflected on the gentle waters surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge, and the waves bounced against the shore that lined the Veterans Affairs hospital, providing a gentle soundtrack for my final call. I basked in the confidence that comes after three years of being in the medical trenches, rife with what I imagined were gory battles against disease, extreme fatigue, and an unsettling exposure to the depths of human experience. There was simply no situation in the hospital that I could not break down, diffuse, or ameliorate, and no symptom I could not deconstruct, evaluate, and treat. So when an exasperated on-call junior resident burst into the room, I leaned forward and prepared myself to provide the sage guidance only a senior resident could give.