On October 10, 2013, the Boston Public Library held an author event featuring Dr. Sheri Fink, she of the MD/PhD braininess that appears to be in constant triage mode; she famously skipped her own medical school graduation to assist refugees on the Kosovo-Macedonia border during the war in Kosovo.  Five Days at Memorial had recently come out, and her talk that early fall evening definitely had the feel of a ...

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shutterstock_10582288 I've been volunteering in an emergency department of a Southern Californian community hospital for five years. I clean gurneys, stock shelves, provide support for RNs and EMTs and translate for Spanish-speaking patients. Since my job requires minimal intellectual effort, I’ve had considerable time to observe the staff and contemplate the inspiring work they do. I’ve watched them perform heroically with sick babies, ...

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shutterstock_89752360 I went to the doctor yesterday, my semi-annual visit, as it were. These days I see a nurse practitioner, a woman. Recently, she and the practice she is a part of moved into a renovated building, state-of-the-art, they are calling it. It almost sparkles in its newness. The practice is owned by one of the large hospital corporations in our city. See ...

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Rarely are health care professionals given the opportunity to truly ponder a crucial aspect of patient care; the truth behind what it feels like to lie in a hospital bed, vulnerable, disoriented, and stripped of every basic human dignity. I have spent over 300 days as a patient in hospitals and more than three decades in and out of doctor’s offices and testing facilities. I have a profound respect for ...

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shutterstock_182400230 It was May 13th, 2012. Mother’s Day.  My wife, Cyrena, was having an incredibly difficult pregnancy. She had pounding headaches, blurred vision, and searing pain throughout her body. As a matter of fact, she had been in and out of the hospital for the last two weeks. Our tiny daughter was only developed 23 weeks in gestation. Her due date was ...

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shutterstock_146971178 The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow. ― Thomas Paine Dear my oncologist, This year was my 11th anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. For the past 6 ...

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Imagine patient-centered care explained as a kind of updated Norman Rockwell painting. What you’d get is a recent PBS documentary, Rx: The Quiet Revolution, which, yes, uses a famous Rockwell image of a kindly family physician (Doctor and Doll) to set the stage for what follows. Putting patient-centeredness into practice The 90-minute film, available for viewing online, features four extraordinary stories of inspiring health care providers working in Maine, Mississippi, ...

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I never thought it would go on for so long -- seeing Donald Wyatt, I mean. I certainly didn't plan it this way. More than six years ago, I retired at age sixty-six from my social work job at a mental-health agency. Donald had been my client there for about eight years. As I was cleaning out my office, his mother called. She explained how Donald's father had left when Donald was ...

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“Nobody does this …” Dr. D said as a greeting as he walked in holding the 700-word letter I had sent him some weeks before my periodic physical examination. Half the letter addressed six issues that had arisen during the year and a half since my last physical. I thought, nearing age 62, that it’d be both efficient and prudent to provide my GP an update on my health experiences. Half ...

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An excerpt from The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital. The outdated caricature of the sexy nurse -- breasts straining buttons on a form-fitting white minidress, shapely legs slipped into white heels -- remains pervasive and global. Nurses say it also holds the profession back. Imagery that sexualizes nurses presents a difficult job requiring ...

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