Andy Dworkin

Match point

And now we wait. After spending roughly 2,000 hours in a classroom, 4,000 hours in clinics and hospitals and thousands more studying or taking tests, my classmates and I are ready to graduate from medical school. We are moving on to residency, the yearslong apprenticeship that teaches newly minted MDs to apply many of the concepts we’ve struggled for years to learn, to forget others and to subvert a few. We’re ready to take charge of … Read More

Hold on just a minute

In the breast pocket of my white coat, I carry the beat-up business card that a patient gave me. Every month or two, when I bend over, the card falls out and I remember one of the most remarkable conversations of medical school: Me: “What do you do for a living?” Him: “I’m a ninja.” He was not joking. I was not in the psych ward. It turned out Mr. P was a martial arts … Read More

Health and a hot meal

Madeline is one of the sickest patients I have met in three years of medical school. Homeless, she came by ambulance to the hospital for malnutrition and frostbite after days sleeping out in a Portland area park this winter. She was resourceful: She made drinking water by melting snow in plastic bottles with her own body heat. And her physical health was surprisingly good. Her mental health was not. She thought she had magic powers, … Read More

So long, frying pan

Barely three months have passed since I rounded out the first half of medical school. Those long hours of lecture, which tested my concentration and comprehension as a first-year medical student, last year grew into a comfortable routine. I was familiar with the rhythms of school, friendly with my classmates, starting to formulate more complex questions about biology and insights into medicine. I was not yet a resident (in any sense) in the medical world, … Read More

Meeting my future

As my classroom education winds down – I’m in the very last week of basic science classes now – I spent several days getting a glimpse of my future education. I headed to Seattle for the American Geriatrics Society’s annual meeting, where I had the chance to listen to several continuing-education presentations and help present a poster at a student-research session. I like Seattle, and have friends and family there, so I was glad about … Read More

The Final Countdown

If you can read the board in this picture, you will see what has been striking fear into my heart for days now. Not “Pig meeting — Dr. Morgan will be talking about painful sex taco bar.” As strange and sinister as that sounds (who wants a painful sex-taco?) such bizarre messages are common ads for med student lunch topics. I recently promoted a talk on physician-assisted suicide with the promise of homemade cookies.

Students still focused on crisis of uninsurance, unequal care

One general truth I’ve learned about health: Ignoring a problem rarely makes it go away. Imagine you regularly get winded and feel your chest clench up for a minute after climbing stairs. Yes, if you rest a minute the pain might subside. But that doesn’t erase the root problem of disease choking off the flow of oxygen to your heart. If you don’t make an effort to uncover and address the underlying problem, you’re courting … Read More

What do you think the teacher will look like this hour?

If I’m counting right, I had 14 teachers this week. Since we had a test Friday, that’s 14 people over 20 hours of class time. I’d hit 23 if I count the doctor I work with in clinic and the patients I saw — and, frankly, no one teaches me more. This isn’t an unusual week. Medical school is remarkable for the enormous breadth of knowledge presented to us. In our first two years, we … Read More


Mid-December brought us first- and second-year med students a much-needed winter break. Mine was lovely, punctuated by only a few moments of panic as I contemplated studying for this summer’s upcoming board exam or attempted explaining this grueling test to my family. The boards, which I have affectionately started calling That Which Shall Not be Named, will be haunting the mind and soul of every second-year medical student ever you meet, for the rest of … Read More

Warning: Student driver

Medical school has lately made me think of a class I took in high school that changed my life. Not biology or chemistry. No, it was driver’s ed. I can still easily recall the feeling of behind the wheel, my overly aggressive (and possibly alcoholic) instructor urging me to drive faster, my timidity giving way to increasing confidence in my abilities, up to the point where I almost blast through a light into a subcompact … Read More



Ever wondered what life is like as a student at OHSU? What does it take to become a researcher? Just how gross is gross anatomy? Welcome to the blog that answers these – and many other – questions. It’s students writing first-hand about their commitment to careers in science and health care. It’s honest about the challenges as well as the joys. It’s not always pretty. But it is our story. Thank you for sharing it with us. And please, let us know what you think.

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