Virtual learning demands too much from those who are already giving their all

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Photo by Vince Russell on Unsplash

I take my literacy for granted. It doesn’t feel great admitting that as a first-generation Asian-American. My parents had to learn an entirely new language while assimilating into an alien culture, always walking on eggshells to avoid saying or doing something that would elicit ridicule from an intolerant population. All this while somehow managing to make ends meet at an underpaying job. I’m still perplexed by their resiliency and strength.

This is a common story told by children of immigrants — a story of perseverance that many of us will never personally contend with. My parents pulled through for my siblings and me, but I’m unsure as to whether or not they could have raised us during a pandemic. Although my parents are undoubtedly strong, I’m unsure if even they could have handled a Covid-19 timeline (in addition to the other hardships they faced). Sadly, this is the exact situation that potentially millions in the U.S. …

Answer: Because chemistry is an art form

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Photo by Estúdio Bloom on Unsplash

About a month ago, a patient with abdominal pain came into our emergency department. They denied genitourinary and cardiorespiratory symptoms. Hypovolemia wasn’t consistent with their vitals, and I found neither a hernia nor sign of organomegaly during palpation. Lab work was normal and a sit-up test revealed a negative Carnett sign. Check, check, and check. (For my non-medical friends: Everything looked okay.) It was a regular workup until I inquired about their recent bowel movements. I was funnily caught off guard by their well-intentioned response:

“So last week, um — ”

[They briefly hesitated.]

“Why did I poop corn?”

This transpired on my sixth —(seventh?) — consecutive shift at two or three in the morning, the precise time frame where I’m either a) downing gallons of coffee to avoid dozing off, or b) laughing at everything my coworkers say and do because we’re loony (and a bit sleep deprived). …

When healers hurt themselves … and others

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Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

This story is dedicated to Dr. Lorna M. Breen and healthcare providers all around the world.

Burnout occurs in virtually every profession. It can happen to me, and it can happen to you — regardless of how much you love your job.

Unarguably, the presence of burnout amongst physicians is widespread. Tawfik et al. revealed more than 50% of U.S. physicians had reported burnout symptoms. As outlined in the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) — the gold standard for precisely measuring burnout — burnout is characterized as a phenomenon where emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and low feelings of personal accomplishment manifest in its sufferers. …

3 unglamorous details that medical shows leave out

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Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

There’s a reason why emergency physicians are commonly called ‘jack of all trades’ or ‘master of none’. I see a lot of different things in the emergency department, but we’re (surprise, surprise) primarily focused on preventing your emergent death. The process of triage helps ER staff focus on who needs what and how soon, which can explain long wait-times (it’s frustrating, I know — I’m sorry). But the prioritization of patients — although undoubtedly necessary for emergencies — can result in the neglect of ER patients seeking treatment for psychiatric emergencies. We must create a more empathetic culture where the severity of mental illness is on par with that of a broken leg or, say, even a heart attack. I’m not saying we should start a therapy session when someone’s coding next door. …

Stop using students of color as props in your disingenuous PR stunt

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During a September 2005 fundraising event for Hurricane Katrina, Kanye West famously said, ‘George Bush doesn’t care about Black people’ while on live television. Well, now it’s 2020 and the statement still rings true: Just substitute ‘Michael Rao’ in lieu of ‘George Bush’ and you have yourself a relevant statement. Here I’ll do it:

Michael Rao doesn’t care about Black people.

Ok, maybe that’s not entirely true. Truth is, Rao is super nice to students of color — that is, when he wants a photo to show his social feeds how ‘diverse’ his institution is. Cut the bullshit, Mikey. …


Ken N. Jeong

Emergency medicine, philosophy, and drug reform are my passions. Not the actor.

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