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Illness in doctors: a source of expertise, not a sign of weakness

Serious illness among medical students, trainees, and physicians should be seen as valuable life experiences, not weaknesses.

I’ve been a medical student for the past three years and a cancer patient for nearly a decade. It’s harder than you think to be both at the same time.

As a student, I hear classmates boast about how many days it’s been since they last slept and how much junk food they eat to stay nourished. I’m expected to put in long hours, and show I’m keen by staying late even after my shift in the hospital has ended. After enough displays of conspicuous self-neglect, I’ll have earned my stripes. As a patient, though, I’m supposed to prioritize my health and pay attention to getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, and exercising. I’m responsible for doing my best to stay

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