Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

At the scrub sink 

"I think of my daughter standing on her tippy toes, her soapy hands in mine sticky with the day’s adventures. "


During the pandemic, living away from my family was rough. I found spending brief periods engaged in an artistic pursuit, like writing poetry, to be healing. 

At the scrub sink  

cold water running down my arms  

another surgery looms  

I think of my daughter

standing on her tippy toes  

her soapy hands in mine

sticky with the day’s adventures.  


How long can I shield her  

cradle her innocence?  


and will water wash away  

the messes we’ve made? 


I wrote “At the scrub sink” during a workshop called “AfterWards with Lindsey Grubbs” in May 2021. It was during the pandemic, and I was a cardiothoracic surgery fellow at Hopkins and living apart from my family. She asked us to write a poem in five minutes, and this is what poured out of me. I missed my children, I was doing very difficult clinical work, and every time I went to scrub my mind would wander to my family.  


Looking at the poem now I’m reminded how healing writing can be and am grateful to Dr. Grubbs for giving us all an opportunity to write that day. I’m now a congenital heart surgeon at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and much of what I tried to express in that poem remains true. 









This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.