MD Program

The learning paradox

“I am slow to learn and slow to forget that which I have learned. My mind is like a piece of steel, very hard to scratch anything on it and almost impossible after you get it there to rub it out.” – Abraham Lincoln Despite his demonstrated capacity for significant life accomplishments, I’m not sure how well our 16th president would have liked being a medical student in the 21st century.  Modern medicine is an … 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

Low Point

Let this be known as The Low Point. I wasn’t prepared for it, much as I thought I was getting used to the feeling of never being 100% prepared and settling for a decent-enough understanding or grade. This weekend, despite all my kicking and screaming, I hit a serious low point in balancing school and the rest of life. A snapshot: I can’t tell which basket is clean or dirty and there are no clothes … Read More

Q: Do I have to know this? A: Yes, yes, you do.

Finally! There are sparkling moments, here and there, very rare, that I feel like I’m on the verge of, just the tip of the iceberg of… (dare I say it?) … being a doctor. Scratch that: there is nothing about my being that is a doctor just yet, but I can feel the gears of my brain clicking into thinking like a doctor. It’s not graceful, it’s full of errors and embarrassing missteps, but I’m … Read More


“I’ll do it during winter break.” My wife heard this phrase a lot between August and December. It was used for everything from getting the baby’s room done to washing the car. Really it was an attempt by me to prioritize things without ignoring them completely. . . So naturally, come winter break, my honey-do list was enormous. I managed to get 80% of the projects done: baby room mostly set up, laundry room ceiling … Read More

The first days are the hardest days?

This article is about growing older. Today is my birthday, so this feels like an appropriate topic. With each year that passes, the tasks we are responsible for are altered. This is especially true in medical education, which is filled with a number of landmark exams, clinical experiences, a residency match, and a few graduations. Eventually (hopefully) you get to the top of the totem pole and are a real life, do-it-yourself-without-supervision attending physician, but … Read More


This much is certain: Medical school is changing my brain. I see this manifested daily in the way my language and understanding of language is changing. A few examples: a couple weeks ago, holding a human brain in my hands in anatomy lab, absolutely dumbfounded and awestruck, I could barely form a sentence. This, as a lifetime talker, a worshipper of language, was a shock. In the same week, while taking a history in a … Read More

Over and over again

Learning is repetition. At least that is what seems to be true for us from an early age. As babies trying to stand up on our own, as toddlers testing the boundaries of parental restraint, as teenagers making mistakes that hopefully weren’t too serious: We don’t usually get it right the first time, and that seems to be true in medical school as well. The start of the second year has proven to be repetitive.  … Read More

Searching for calm ambition

I completed my first career medical school exam this past Monday afternoon. When I returned home that evening, I had yet to recover from the adrenaline, and the rest of my life had collapsed into shambles. I had only small parcels of food in the refrigerator and a few clean clothes in my closet; I hadn’t spoken to either of my parents in over a week, and I felt mentally and physically exhausted. The following … Read More

A Poem: “Needles and Pins”

My feet are numb from studying for hours endlessly. The pins and needles down there make it difficult to see exactly WHY I study into perpetuity. What makes me stay day after day? Preceptorship, for me. For four hours a week, somehow a brave doctor concedes to watching me attempt to tend his patients’ every need. Some patients are quite skeptical, I can’t help but agree- Thank goodness for this practice, or I’d never earn … 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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