Background  Under the 1997 Death with Dignity Act, Oregon was the first of the now-handful of states to allow physicians to write a prescription that, when filled and administered, would cause intentional death. Let me be clear: Death with dignity is not offered to Oregonians en masse or even on a whim. To legally qualify, a patient must be 18 years or older, a resident of Oregon, capable of making and communicating ...

Read more...

Before starting third year, we had a week-long course that taught basic skills not learned in our first two years of medical school: suturing, knot tying, injections, note writing, etc.. One critical skill they left out was how to use a fax machine and how to deal with medical record offices. To outsiders, it probably seems pointless to learn how to operate an archaic communication tool like a fax machine in ...

Read more...

After residency: I’m scared to practice outpatient medicine As a graduating senior resident I’m scared to practice outpatient medicine. In a community of patients and physicians crying out for primary care doctors, what are we doing at a training level to foster and promote confidence and independence at doing this? Many bright eyed freshly graduated medical school students enter residency understanding the need and embodying the hope of pursing outpatient ...

Read more...

“There was one time when I wasn’t here for seven months in a row,” ”Pam” told me. I sat with Pam in her third floor hospital room -- the floor on which she always stays when admitted to the inpatient medicine service -- as nurses, doctors, and janitors poked their heads in the door to say friendly hellos and “Nice to see you again, Pam!” A dining facility staff member entered ...

Read more...

$2.6 million: Is the cost of becoming a doctor worth it? Each year, over 20,000 U.S. students begin medical school.  They routinely pay $50,000 or more per year for the privilege, and the average medical student graduates with a debt of over $170,000.  That’s a lot of money.  But for some who pursue careers in medicine, the financial cost has been considerably greater.  Melissa Chen, 35, a final-year radiology resident at the ...

Read more...

“So, is this the sickest list you’ve ever had?” the resident asked me at 2 AM, after I finally finished checking off all my boxes for the night. I nodded. I agreed. I was also shaking. I had been covering nine patients that night. Almost none were stable. In the span of one shift, we called three rapid responses. One person went into cardiogenic shock right in front of me was transferred to ...

Read more...

I recently began a rotation at the hospital as one of the night float interns. As part of this responsibility, I manage the care for approximately fifty patients each night. Day after day, I perform the same routine in preparation for the night ahead: Grab my stethoscope and pager, claim one of the code pagers, pick up a time sheet to fill in the nightly team to-do’s and mentally prepare ...

Read more...

Since the first day of medical school, I was in breathless anticipation of my third year. I came to Harvard with a background in creative writing and the big draw of medicine for me lay in its compendium of human stories. In college, I volunteered at local hospitals where my primary responsibility was to go knock on patients’ doors and keep them company for a little while. This was awesome. Few ...

Read more...

“To help other people overcome their injuries.” This mantra was accompanied by flushed faces, hidden trembling hands, and nervous chuckles as the majority of my peers told the class why they decided to pursue physical therapy as a career. Soon thereafter, this adage was lost as we dived into our studies, learning every bone, muscle, and organ. Focusing on the human body is a must for all healthcare professionals, and PTs ...

Read more...

When it comes to advocacy, some doctors dont have anything left to give We like to say good things; we try to make normative to our profession to do the things that should be done. Many of us are saying that physicians should be advocates for their patients and communities outside of the clinic. Sounds good right? Unfortunately, what sounds good is not always a reality on the ground. I think most physicians agree that ...

Read more...