Ishani Ganguli

Ishani Ganguli is a journalist and a second-year resident physician in internal medicine/primary care at Massachusetts General Hospital. She studied biochemistry and Spanish at Harvard College and received her medical degree at Harvard Medical School in 2011. Ishani has written about science, medicine, and health policy for publications including The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC News, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The Scientist. She blogs at Short White Coat.  Short white coats are the traditional attire for medical students in the United States, but at Massachusetts General Hospital, students and doctors at all levels of experience wear them to symbolize their commitment to lifelong learning. Her blogs are reprinted on healthydebate with the permission of the author.  Follow Ishani on Twitter @IshaniG.


Articles and Opinion Pieces by this author

A new mom in medicine

Months before my life was upended, a doctor friend tried to explain my forthcoming role in terms I’d understand. “Imagine being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “You’re in charge of a single patient, but she is needy as hell.” Medical training prepared me for motherhood in some ways…

“Expecting Better” from your doctors during pregnancy

Of all the pregnancy taboos I’ve heard in my 34 weeks of this surreal, at times ache-inducing, but ultimately incredible state, caffeine has caused me the greatest chagrin. Strangers in line at Coffee Central offered helpfully: “You’ll get decaf, of course.” My four-year-old nephew looked at a cup of tea in my hands, his brow…

Computers vs. patients

If you’re a medical intern (a new doctor in their first year of additional training after medical school), most of what you need to do your job can be pulled off a computer screen: Blood test results. Paged messages. Orders to start a medication. All but, of course, how sick a patient is. How he…

Sharing difficult decisions

Last week, Lisa Rosenbaum wrote in a New Yorker blog entry about a topic dear to my heart: shared decision making (SDM). SDM refers to doctors empowering patients to make medical decisions based on their values and preferences when there is more than one reasonable path. Many researchers have found that shared decision making (with the help of…

Tethered to a pole: the challenge of end of life decisions

When I attended the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) conference in Boston recently, discussion swirled on the topics of unsustainable costs of care, doctors’ incentives under traditional payment models to order more tests and treatments, and the struggles of patients’ family members to avoid unwanted care at the end of life. That Sunday night, I was back at…

A doctor’s condolences

When a patient dies in the hospital, we go through a checklist that has become eerily mundane: Examine the patient to confirm the death. Notify the family, the senior doctor, the local organ bank, the admitting office, and (in some cases) the medical examiner. Fill out the report of death. Write a death note. Brace…

Quit (smoking) while you’re ahead

I knew he was sick when he told me he’d thrown out his cigarettes on account of how badly he felt. Mr. P had gotten used to the breathlessness when he climbed stairs and the hacking, dry cough that followed him everywhere. What else could he expect after smoking three packs a day since he…

Stuck on loop: why do patients have to repeat their stories?

The other night, a patient gave me a piece of his mind. Mr. Q was a middle-aged man debilitated by days of nausea, vomiting and intractable belly pain. That morning, his wife finally convinced him to get medical attention and drove him to our emergency department. On arrival, he sat in a cubicle in the…

Patients and doctors benefit from shared notes

When I joined the Ambulatory Practice of the Future (APF) as a first-year resident, I learned that the primary care clinic had an open notes policy: whatever we wrote about our patients could be seen by our patients through a secure online portal. It was a startling departure from medicine's tradition of records shrouded in…