Chief Complaint

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Melissa Rosina Pasqua


In the case-based learning sessions of pre-clerkship at the University of Ottawa, students are presented with a patient’s chief complaint in a module that is clear-cut and objective.  The cases are often optimistic, in a way that can be sometimes statistically rare, but once in a while the patient passes away, leaving students disappointed as they close their laptops and leave the room.  In real life, exposure to a patient’s triumphs and tribulations may be only 15 minutes long, but for the patient and their family, cancer represents a man who is in constant fear of a group of cells spreading to a vital organ and killing him, or a father who will never see his grandchildren, or a wife whose absence leaves a sting to everyday life.  This poem was an attempt to give a voice to the patient outside the constraints of the module, and to give life to a scenario that is greyer than the black and white typed notes make it out to be.

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