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  • From Our Journals

The Clue

As I stood outside of Carlos’s room, I felt caught on the horns of a dilemma. It seemed impossible to truly “be there” for Carlos without sacrificing my other intern duties. This tension pervaded much of my residency training, as I often found myself spending more time completing chart notes, answering pages, and giving sign out than I did at the bedside with my patients. I knew I had a duty to “do my job”—I could not let my team down. But what about my duty to Carlos, a duty to act on my intuition and try to “get to the bottom” of his illness, if that was even possible? And what about my thirteen other patients? Wasn’t I was their doctor as well?  I have spent countless hours studying the ethical frameworks for medical rationing. And yet no framework could have told me how to weigh my intuition in that crucial moment of decision-making, or when it was okay to leave a few notes unfinished in order to have the time to talk with Carlos.

Suddenly, I knew what I had to do.

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