Jess Guh

I was born in a suburb in Connecticut. Then I moved to a suburb of Philadelphia. I went to college in a suburb of San Francisco. I wanted to be in a city, finally, when I went to medical school, but ended up in Ann Arbor. It's pretty much a suburb. I majored in Social Justice Documentary Film in college. Worked in the restaurant industry. Now I'm done with medical school and an intern in Seattle. I write a blog (www.jessguh.com) on my thoughts and experiences about race and privilege and my journey to become more enlightened. I consider myself an activist and hope to never become a "couch democrat."

Imposter, MD

Last week I began functioning as a real doctor.  I didn’t wear a long white coat because family medicine doctors are too counter-culture to wear white coats but, I did write a prescription without having to run around looking for a doctor's signature.  I filled out official medical paperwork and signed "MD" behind my name. When my patient addressed me as, “doctor” instead of babbling out the usual, “No, no. I’m a medical student, but perhaps I can still be of help. If not, I’m certain I can find someone who can,” I simply turned and said, “Yes?”As excited as I am to be moving forward in my training, and as sure as I am that I learned many useful things over the past four years of medical school, I can't shake the feeling that when I say I'm a doctor, people have an image of what that means that is different from what I actually am.  As my co-intern said the other night at happy hour, "Is anybody else suffering from intense imposter syndrome?" Unanimous nods.Acknowledging it out loud helped explain the thoughts that had been popping into my head the past few weeks.  Whenever I had a moment of downtime, memories that I hadn't thought about in years would seemingly randomly surface: the time that a friend in high school decided she didn't like me anymore and I never understood why or what I had done; the time at soccer practice when I was nine and I was chided for thinking I was better than my teammates; and the time a coworker told me that he didn't trust me.What I fear is that somehow I've gotten this far despite of who I am. The litany of remembered failures and shortcomings, however small, are moments when people were able to see through to the truth of me. At any moment the smoke will clear and everyone around me will be able to see what they saw as well.  One ought to chastise me for even entertaining the thought that the people are around me could be so obtuse for so long, but the quiet fear remains, lurking in the back ground of my thoughts....more

Google Searches and Stereotypes

We all have that friend. The friend who in the middle of the conversation will pause to google whatever it is you're discussing or debating.  Occasionally I find it annoying but more often, especially since I don't have a "smart phone" myself, I find it satisfying and convenient. ...more

Remembering to Bask

Sad but true: I’m not very good at writing about happy things.  In fact, now that I think about it, I’m not very good at celebrating.Celebrating is not to be confused with partying.  I like parties.  I like laughing and being loud with friends.  I like getting carried away into the night.  Partying frequently happens in the setting of celebrating something so it’s never occurred to me that I might be bad at celebrating, but I am. It’s partying that I’m good at....more

Learning To Speak Up...and Out

I’m frustrated.  The man sitting in front of me is an incredible person. He’s been the chair of medical departments and president of one of the world’s largest global health non-profits. He’s improved the lives of millions of people. I have everything to learn from him, but I can’t seem to get much from what he’s saying....more
 @nellewrites Thanks for your thoughts! That's something that is so great to be reminded of -- ...more

The Race of Residencies in the Residency Race

I have this habit: I count people.  Every time I arrive at a function or meeting, I’m like a covert operative and immediately analyze the situation.  But I’m not looking for possible emergency exits, I’m counting the number of white people....more

My Kindred Bacteria: H. pylori, Gastric Cancer, and Asian Americans

The year 1984 is probably most well known because of George Orwell. More relevant to me, it was the year I was born.  More relevant to researchers desperate to publish before they proverbially "perish," 1984 was the year that Helicobacter pylori was discovered.  With a brand new bacteria that nobody knew anything about, it was low hanging fruit for publishable data....more

Thoughts on National Coming Out Week

This is National Coming Out Week. And though we'll focus on celebrating the queer community, it's not a holiday.  And despite the fact that its whole existence is due to prejudice and hate, it's not a memorial.   Image: dbking via FlickrPictured is the late gay rights activist, Frank Kameny, who passed away yesterday at age 86....more
Right on! Closets are for clothes!!!more

Dykes Smoke Fags

I want a cigarette. I suppose that on it's own, that's not a particularly strange thought.  Throughout my life, most people would probably consider me a social smoker.  I smoke when I'm drunk, when I'm around friends who are smoking, when I'm upset.  Especially when I'm upset.  Always when I'm upset. ...more

What a  funny and honest post.  I was a social smoker than stopped until I moved to ...more

a new identity

When asked how I identify, I have a neat, packaged answer to whip out.  Somewhere between all the conversations about life, workshops on race and privilege, discourses about activism, and community work, the question has come up so often that it's almost old news to me.  I have a list ready to rattle off and an identity ready for every category.  I even have my identities categorized into a flow chart in my own mind: political versus personal/cultural, claimed on principle versus personally, etc.  My dad calls himself a "soup freak" because of his love of soup....more