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Stories by Ilana Yurkiewicz


The patient was hacking sputum into a tissue when the resident and I entered his room. "How long have you had that cough?" "Oh this? As long as I can remember." "But it's been worse lately?" "Yeah." "Worse how?" "More stuff coming out each time.

March 22, 2015 — Ilana Yurkiewicz

Finding the Right Confidence Interval

"Stick to your guns." "Put your nickel down." "Stand your ground." If you're a medical student, there is an excellent chance you have heard one of these in the course of your training.

February 21, 2015 — Ilana Yurkiewicz
So, you want to write about medicine?

So, you want to write about medicine?

Last year, I was honored to receive an invitation to address the Medical Student Section of the American Medical Association (AMA) on writing about medicine.

January 31, 2015 — Ilana Yurkiewicz

The path of least resistance

I was glad she never asked if I had done this before. My first nasogastric tube was placed on an elderly woman with chronic liver disease. As her illness worsened, it gradually turned her skin yellow, her abdomen swollen, and her mind foggy.

January 30, 2015 — Ilana Yurkiewicz
These agents prevent disease. Why aren't we using them?

These agents prevent disease. Why aren't we using them?

The life cycle of a medical advance usually goes something like this: from discovery at the research bench and replication of findings, to translational research and clinical trials, to implementation.

December 31, 2014 — Ilana Yurkiewicz

What’s so healthy about skepticism?

He was known to the hospital as someone who would try to manipulate his caregivers. And I fell for it anyway. Frequently admitted for pain crises associated with a chronic illness, he spent most of his hospital course avoiding eye contact with the team.

December 21, 2014 — Ilana Yurkiewicz
Strange bedfellows

Strange bedfellows

“You wanna talk? Let’s talk.” The 42-year-old man sits up straighter in the hospital bed and grins a toothless grin.

November 29, 2014 — Ilana Yurkiewicz
It’s a simple question - isn’t it?

It’s a simple question - isn’t it?

"So, is this the sickest list you've ever had?" the resident asked me at 2 AM, after I finally finished checking off all my boxes for the night.

November 12, 2014 — Ilana Yurkiewicz

Reflections of a fourth year medical student

"We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has." - Milan Kundera Two weeks ago, I [...]

May 6, 2014 — Ilana Yurkiewicz
Taking sides

Taking sides

The page comes from the psychiatry intern on call. "There's a situation with patient RB on the unit. Please advise." We gather in the hall outside the patient's room.

March 11, 2014 — Ilana Yurkiewicz

Talking shop: when doctors forget to fill in the blanks

“Ms. M,” the resident says, “I saw in your chart that the last time you had surgery you had a pulmonary embolism.” She nods with recognition: “I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

November 12, 2013 — Ilana Yurkiewicz

But I remember you

You may not remember me, but when I asked how you were you said “Alive.” A few weeks earlier you were afraid of going under anesthesia and not waking up.

July 31, 2013 — Ilana Yurkiewicz

Watchful waiting

“This is not normal for him.” A tearful mother pointed to her six-year-old son, lying in the hospital bed. Fevers had been intermittent. He was withdrawn, but not uncommunicative until a few minutes earlier.

July 3, 2013 — Ilana Yurkiewicz

From classrooms to hospitals: when medicine doesn't have all the answers

I’ll start with this: it’s great to be back. I’ve been on hiatus from blogging for the past few months because of the exam I took last week: the medical boards, or Step 1, an eight hour test that covers all of the first two years of medical school to prepare us for the hospital wards.

May 6, 2013 — Ilana Yurkiewicz

Special Edition: Mysteries of the Mind