During most of my career as a psychiatrist, I haven't often dealt directly with death. For the past five years, though, I have had the privilege of spending two days a week treating service men and women returning from deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Listening to their stories and talking with them about their war experiences, I've spent much more time thinking about death and dying. Despite this, I was shocked ...

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A thick green glob landed on my scrub top at the same time that the first drop of sweat rolled down the small of my back. I tried not to grimace and discretely walked over to the hand sanitizer dispenser. But like every other hand sanitizer I had tried, this one was empty. Yesterday I had also discovered that the only bathroom in the hospital had no toilet paper. It ...

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“I’ve been with my doctor for years and years,” an elderly man, voice hoarse but lilting with fondness for his caregiver, told a nurse in the primary care clinic where I was waiting to see a doctor. “He’s fantastic.” I was coming to the clinic for a follow-up appointment about an injury for which I’d been seen a few months prior, but neither the initial appointment nor this follow-up were with ...

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shutterstock_151464374 My journey in medicine began as a young child: I was the typical kid who knew I wanted to a be a doctor since I was a child and was thrilled when I was accepted into an 8-year college program which culminated in a medical degree. However, by the end of my undergraduate program, medicine was changing: doctors were spending less ...

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A medical student recently asked my advice on her decision to pursue a career in dermatology. It was about 25 years ago when my own parents encouraged me to pursue this specialty. What was their deal? Perhaps, they anticipated future developments in the field and were hoping for free Botox treatments? As readers know, I rejected the rarefied world of pustules and itchy skin rashes for the glamor of hemorrhoids, ...

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shutterstock_136149212 My student’s voice trembled as she answered my question.  “How do you think you’ve done so far?” I’d asked her.  We’d been together on the general medicine inpatient ward for two weeks -- the midpoint of the rotation -- and as was my usual custom I was giving her feedback on her performance by first asking her to rate her performance ...

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Medical students are repeatedly taught the importance of the physician-patient relationship.  We are told that to be a good doctor we must strive to exhibit compassion, empathy, respect, professionalism and confidence all while applying our medical knowledge to figure out a diagnosis and treatment plan. If you add in the pressure of doing this within a 15-minute visit, all while answering questions faster than an Internet search, it can get ...

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Where there is love there is life. - Mahatma Gandhi In this first month there is a lot I saw, learned and experienced.  Love tops the list. I became an expert in arterial punctures as I did 4 to 5 of them each day in the floors.  Each time I headed for an arterial puncture, many things automatically came to my mind: collect all of the required supplies, talk to and comfort ...

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shutterstock_100742404 This evening, I read a post written by a woman who finds herself feeling alone, depressed, desperate, and afraid of losing herself as she goes through medical school. This post is my response to that woman. Dear colleague and friend, You are not alone. You are far from home. You are far from your family. You are far from the desert, the open ...

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Scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer once said, "There are children playing in the streets who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago." Like physics, medicine has its share of problems, namely cost control. Like children, we must open our perception to the problem of cost control to consider other possibilities that better account for the issue than the theories ...

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