bulletin board Bulletin board of "good things" at the clinic.

Recently, a patient tearfully confided in me her disappointment when a neighbor reneged on a promise to include her when seeing a particular movie. My patient had saved money from her limited disability income in anticipation of the event; it had been years since she had gone to a movie. Even after 40 years of being a social worker, I was struck in this moment by how the simplest pleasures in life often elude our patients, and how often we, ourselves, take for granted these small joys.

Over the years working at Duke Family Medicine Center, I have said that if you work in my job for two days and you cannot write a gratitude list then your life is truly miserable. My patient’s tears on this occasion reminded me again of how lucky most of us are, despite the stresses of our professional and personal lives.

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Cerrone Cohen, M.D. Cerrone Cohen, M.D.

For a group that prides itself on managing the health of others, physicians themselves lead some of the most unhealthy, unbalanced lives you will ever see. In medical school, we’re taught about the association between stress and chronic conditions like heart disease, anxiety and depression but no one ever teaches you how to manage a busy practice and a busy family.

In residency, you’re required to learn strategies to mitigate fatigue, but there were no lectures on how to juggle meetings and still make it to the preschool holiday program. No one ever sat me down during residency and told me how to find time for exercise, church, friends, date nights, reading or travel — all the things I enjoyed outside of my work life.

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Anna Afonso, M.D., MPH Anna Afonso, M.D., MPH

I still remember my first month of intern year — waking up in the middle of the night to check patient charts, labs, vitals and online resources. The transition from medical student to doctor frightened me, and I spent many nights reading through charts moment by moment to reassure myself that my patients were all tucked away and doing well through the night.

When I look back on “intern me,” I wish I could tell myself to go to sleep, among many other things that would have made me a much happier and more effective resident. I have compiled a brief list of my personal Top 10 pieces of advice for the new intern, in my hopes that it may help others in their transition from medical student to doctor.

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Donna Tuccero, M.D. Donna Tuccero, M.D.

My office moved three months ago, and I am now on “the social work hallway” where people pass my door (or wait outside of it) on the way to meet with our medical social workers. There is a constant stream of people, sometime in singles or couplets, other times in small groups. 

The other day, one of my social worker colleagues came up the hall, stopped at my door and exclaimed, “People have to stop molesting our kids! Don’t they realize the damage they are doing?”

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Alexa Namba, DO, MPH Alexa Namba, DO, MPH, chief resident

I took one step backward, started to lose my balance, and knew it was all over. I fell to the ground as squeals of delight and laughter filled the air. My right foot just could not reach the red circle, and my chance for Twister victory had evaporated. It’s Sunday evening at the patient hostel in Mwanza, Tanzania — which means family dinner and game night.

For the past six weeks, I have had the privilege to rotate at the Bugando Medical Centre. Seated atop a hill, overlooking the city and Lake Victoria, this hospital is the largest referral specialty hospital in the Lake region of Tanzania, covering 13 million people. Therefore, when traditional medicine has been tried and local and regional hospitals have not been successful, patients come here for specialty care. While this sounds similar to Duke, it was very apparent, from my first day, that I was no longer in Durham, N.C.

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