Micheline came to Project Medishare’s women’s health center in Port-au-Prince as many of my patients do -- with advanced cancer. At only 46 years old, she still had two young daughters and a family that needed her income selling clothing on the street. Micheline has cervical cancer, a disease that literally takes years to form and grow, is easily detected with simple tests, and is entirely preventable. We initially launched the ...

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Even though I have had health insurance continuously since finishing training, I found the costs of illness significant. So that the costs of care cancelled my income for working nearly half a year. No wonder so many people have gone bankrupt due to health care expenditures. This was a major impetus for health care reform and the Affordable Care Act. Fortunately for me, my savings and those left me by my ...

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I was working at a small hospital when I heard the nurses talking about a new rule. The rule was that the only people who could wear lab coats would be physicians and administrators. It made me laugh a little. I’ve hated lab coats since medical school. I currently sport what a family medicine resident told me was the ER mullet: khakis and polo shirt. (Who knew?) I find it much ...

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Approximately one in three women under the age of 45 have had an abortion. Approximately one in three women under the age of 45 have a tattoo. Think about your community.  How many tattoo parlors can you think of? How many can you easily access? How many abortion clinics can you think of? How many can you easily access? A cursory, ten-second search for “tattoo” yielded more than 40 results within a 5-mile ...

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Patients are cool.   I did a colonoscopy on a hospitalized man who was saddled with the ravages of obesity, diabetes, sleep apnea and respiratory disease.  My partner had performed the initial consultation, and it was my task to bring light into a dark place by performing a colonoscopy.  I engaged in some conversation prior to the procedure, not simply to acquire relevant medical facts, but also to establish some rapport ...

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He squeezed into the elevator just as the door was closing.  There was a lightness about him, an excitement.  His jacket was newly pressed and uncomfortably free of nicks or stains.   He stood at attention with perfect posture.  There was no sign that working at this early hour on a Sunday morning, nor even being awake, was something out of the ordinary.  Extraordinary. He glanced over at my tattered lab ...

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Can anxiety be severe enough to cause a physician to leave medicine?  Absolutely.  I know a number of physicians who have left for this reason.  In my coaching practice I am increasingly aware of the toll anxiety takes on many doctors and am making it my mission to bring more attention to this problem and to find solutions.  The physicians I have talked to are just the tip of the ...

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Recently, Pope Francis visited Philadelphia to finish out his five-day visit to the United States. Prior to his visit, many hospitals in the city were preparing for possible emergencies involving visitors from many countries around the globe, particularly elderly visitors. On-call teams were present in these hospitals, and contingency plans were in place in case people needed to be transported emergently to different hospitals despite the high level of security ...

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It’s amazing when events that seem to be “miracles” happen, and even more magical to be a part of them, however peripherally. My husband, David Merzel, MD, a physician anesthesiologist and pediatric intensive care specialist, and his patient, 17-year-old Chiann Wheeler, share the remarkable story of Chiann’s brush with death from sepsis, and how David’s quick diagnosis saved her life. The story began one morning when then 15-year-old Chiann felt so sick ...

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I hear a lot these days about restructuring medical school curriculum to help train medical students not only to be clinically competent and to have an excellent bedside manner but to also be culturally aware and emotionally appropriate. I agree that such training is crucial however I would add authenticity to the equation. Rewind back to 2002 as a medical student, one lesson that I remember best for the nervousness that ...

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