A Medical Student’s Glossary

Delusions of Grandeur   a post-infection sequela to medical school admission

Aggression   the appropriate orientation toward people’s pathogens and the problems they produce

Carelessness   a marker for arrogance

Fatigue   an inevitable consequence of greed

Caution   the fear of fucking up

Billing   too soon, too much

Thoughtfulness   what skill lacks

Cancer   the disease of the innocent brave

Compassion   a threat to competence and productivity

Cancer   the disease of excess sun, sex, cigarettes, and cells

Expectation   a substance saturating the air between patient and physician

Cancer   not dead yet

Choice   something we pretend patients have

Direction   what we want more than warmth

Guilt    the recurrent theme in a hyper-moral personal narrative

Perspective   a vestigial structure, palpable in a minority of medical students upon examination

Loneliness   the untreatable chief complaint


Sara Rendell is an MD-PhD candidate at Penn.