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A Piece of My Mind
November 7, 2007


Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(17):1985-1986. doi:10.1001/jama.298.17.1985

The third year of medical school, the first of the clinical years on the road to becoming a physician, left an indelible imprint on me. I will always remember playing chase with the exuberant 5-year-old boy who had been so traumatized by extensive burns and the loss of his mother in a fire. I can still feel the thick air in the room where I listened to a pediatric neurologist review in mind-numbing detail the MRI that served as his basis to declare that a precious 2-year-old girl, healthy only two weeks ago, had irreversible brain damage from fulminant hepatic encephalopathy. These human tragedies moved me, but I often found myself at a loss: What, if anything, could I do to comfort these patients and their families? What must it feel like? And then, during my family medicine clerkship, the last month of my third year of medical school, I understood.

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