Welcome to The Medical Atlas

The year I started PA school, being a physician assistant was ranked #1 in 100 Best Jobs by U.S. News & World Report. I was thrilled I’d been granted the opportunity to learn how to practice medicine. As cliché as it was, I wanted to help people. I’d worked as both a scribe and a medical assistant, so I’d had a front-row seat to many of the ins and outs of patient care. It was a science and an art, both challenging and rewarding. I couldn’t wait to learn how to take a history, perform a physical exam, narrow down the differential diagnoses, and prescribe an appropriate treatment. I looked forward to caring for my patients in a holistic way, addressing their physical health while also taking into account their mental, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing. 

Although students are notorious for being idealistic, I thought I was going into PA school with a pretty realistic perspective. One physician I worked with once told me, “With some patients, you’re not going to change the course of their life, you just walk down the road with them.” It was a pragmatic insight, and I knew he was right. Not every outcome would be favorable, and sometimes, it would feel as though one’s hands were tied. Nevertheless, being a PA seemed like a tangible way to do good in the world, and I had every reason to believe it was the right career for me. Then came the disillusionment. This newsletter is a place to explore that reality, all the while keeping an eye out for hope.

What’s in a name?

This is The Medical Atlas. 

Atlas, as in, “to suffer, endure, bear.” Sometimes, as clinicians, it can feel like we’re carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.

Atlas, as in, a collection of maps. In the 16th century, cartographer Gerardus Mercator began the custom of putting an illustration of the Titan Atlas, holding the globe on his shoulders, at the beginning of a book of maps. Maps speak to both location (Where are we?) and trajectory (How did we get here? Where are we going?). Connecting the dots from point A to point B helps lay the groundwork for another important question: How might we forge a better way forward?

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Join me in exploring the intersection of healthcare and human flourishing. Asking questions. Staying curious. Acknowledging uncertainty. Drawing parallels. Embracing nuance. Seeking truth.

Disclaimer: All content and information in this newsletter is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this newsletter.