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Physician Work Environment and Well-Being
June 2018

A Physician’s Suffering—Facing Depression as a Trainee

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, New York University Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital, New York
JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(6):749-750. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.1520

Recently, 5 miles uptown from my hospital, a young physician leapt to her death from her apartment building.1 In the following days and weeks, word trickled out among my fellow physicians-in-training that there’d been yet another suicide.

The news of this stranger’s death sucked me backward through time to my fourth year of medical school. I was on my internal medicine subinternship, a 1 month rotation at the beginning of my fourth year when, for the first time, I had real responsibility for patients. The subinternship was meant to be dress rehearsal for internship, but it felt like an audition. Though from the outside my performance was considered satisfactory, internally, every moment was labored. Like the patient whose lungs were flooded from congestive heart failure, I was drowning inside, using all my energy just to resist the pull into darkness.

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