It’s okay that you don’t remember me. My name is Shara, and I’m part of the surgical team. I’m checking to see how you’re doing after your surgery. Do you know where you are right now? Actually, you’re in the hospital. You had surgery a few hours ago, for a broken hip. You used to be able to walk before you broke it, so it was important to fix it as soon ...

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A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine lauded, albeit cautiously, point-of-care ultrasound that has risen to such an extent that it is now becoming an integral part of medical education. Could the availability of ultrasound revolutionize clinical medicine in much the same way Laennec’s stethoscope broke the acoustic barrier? Certainly this possibility can’t be ruled out. But I am not so sanguine. One thing I’m sure about: Indiscriminate ...

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With the rollout of Obamacare, we are living in a moment in which there is no dearth of heated debates among friends, family, and co-workers. And often times, these debates degrade to become emotion vs. emotion, or even ad hominem, and so these initially well-meaning conversations morph into heated arguments that lead nowhere. (Even Immanuel Kant advised debaters to out-shout opponents when more civil methods of discourse had failed.) It is far ...

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There are words in many languages that have no good English equivalent. During my work in Haiti, I’ve noticed my Haitian colleagues on occasion exhaling a phrase -- “tet chaje” -- which literally means “head charged.” More accurately, it describes a sense of being overwhelmed or conveying disbelief or frustration. Based on my limited experiences in the field, I can only begin to imagine the burnout that local providers face ...

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I had never seen my young cousin sit so still. “What did you do?” my aunt wondered, amazed that her hyperactive 12-year-old had been transfixed for nearly an hour. “Were you two playing video games?” “Actually we were just talking about some of the things I learned in medical school. He’s really interested,” I told her. Indeed, he hadn’t even touched one of the delicious samosas we were eating. Every time he ...

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Translational research is a catchphrase in biomedical circles these days. But if you’re confused about what the term really means, you’re not alone. It was 35 years ago when I first heard the term “translation” in a scientific context. It was about enabling basic research undertaken by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to find its way into treatments for patients. Though that sounds pretty straightforward, I still have to explain ...

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Recently, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine called into question the effectiveness of surgical checklists for preventing harm. Atul Gawande, one of the original researchers demonstrating the effectiveness of such checklists and author of a book on the subject, quickly wrote a rebuttal on the Incidental Economist. He writes, “I wish the Ontario study were better,” and I join him in that assessment, but want to take it a step further. Gawande first criticizes ...

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Picture this. You walk into your doctor’s office for an urgent visit for new distressing symptoms.  He (or she) takes your blood pressure, temperature, heart rate.  All within normal limits.  He asks you several questions pertaining to your symptoms, does a thorough exam and perhaps orders a quick in-office lab or two.  You ask him what he thinks is going on. The quandary If it’s a slam dunk diagnosis, the branch point in ...

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What do you do when your ideal residency program does not exist?  This is a truth that all perspective applicants must come to terms with, but I was still hoping that I would be the exception.  I had created my list of everything my top family medicine program must have, including strong research mentorship, dedicated faculty, and a welcoming resident environment, and I had an idea going into the interview season what ...

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Should medical school be shortened to three years? I say, "no." Here's why. There is way too much to learn in 3 years. Unless medical education is radically changed, it will be impossible for students to memorize all the unnecessary stuff they still have to memorize, complete all their clerkships, and move onto the next phase -- residency training. I do not see how medical students can choose a career path before they have ...

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