A death in the curriculum

During my third year of med school, the deaths of my patients have been entirely mysterious to me. They are dispassionate words on the medical record or casual condolences passed in the workroom. Sometimes, they happened even without my knowing. “How could you not know?” A friend teased. I reached reflexively for excuses. I hadn’t known because the patient had passed away on a Sunday when I had not been on call. The next day, the death was old news and no one thought to tell me since she was not a patient who I had cared for on a regularly. It took me two days to notice that a new patient had settled into her old room.

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