After I left my position as a staffer for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in November 2010, it was three years before I was tapped for another guideline post, this time at the American Academy of Family Physicians. Recently I joined the AAFP's Commission on Health of the Public and Science, which formulates guidance for family physicians on a variety of topics, including clinical preventive services. My appointment coincided ...

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I have long been a fan of the Case Records of the Massachusetts General Hospital, which is published weekly in the New England Journal of Medicine. For many years, I made a point of recommending them to medical students and internal medicine residents as a model of concise yet comprehensive case presentations. No wasted words, no missing information, and none of the filler that trainees often added when they presented cases, such ...

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Painful wait times at the doctor’s office.  It’s an old story with few exceptions. As a dad, I have to deal with many of the same issues of parenting that you deal with: sleepless nights , fevers and holding my kids down for shots (my wife did it once, I think, then she promptly retired from this job).  However, waiting at the pediatrician is not something I have to do.  So, I can’t truly empathize ...

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Next in a series. Years ago while in oncology training, I was on night duty when a patient of one of my colleagues was having severe penile pain. He had received a new investigational chemotherapy and it turned out to have an unexpected property of damaging the lining of the bladder and urethra. It gave him a strong uncontrollable urge to urinate yet each time the burning was excruciating. Oral ...

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Palliative surgery is tough stuff. Nobody wins much, and it often challenges one's ability to think clearly, let alone to tell the truth. Sometimes, I think, it borders on the deceptive; it makes me wonder who's the object of comfort. And yet, when there's nothing else to do, it's often just the right thing. I hate it. To be clear: We're talking about surgery to relieve some sort of specific problem, ...

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It is unethical not to be compassionate when you are a physician.  Treating people or their families poorly isn't helpful to anyone in a stressful situation.  But a big problem exists there - ethics is not taught in medical school.  Then again, neither is compassion.  So where do you learn them?  Can you learn compassion, or is it something you just have? Or don't have? She could have been anyone's grandmother.  White ...

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As the number of people undergoing plastic surgery rises, the number of people who get bad results also increases. Numerous cases of botched plastic surgeries persist to linger the news which continue to put plastic surgery in a bad light. As a doctor specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery myself, I am saddened by the fact that such cases carry on. With more and more people choosing to undergo plastic surgery, ...

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“So like a concierge doctor?” That was the most common response upon explaining my future direct primary care practice while in residency. That perception and label really perturbed me. My vision was to care for a diverse group of people. I spent the majority of my residency clinic hours in an urban safety net clinic, but certainly didn’t want to swing the pendulum to the opposite 1%. To avoid that stigma, I ...

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2014-06-09-collegestory-thumb When my sister and I were little, we had an almost daily ritual with my father: drawing stories. He would sit us on his lap and get out his clipboard, a piece of paper and his black click pen. He'd divide the paper into four parts, and draw as he told a story. Sometimes he drew old favorites and we knew what ...

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Her wary eyes, magnified from her thick-lensed spectacles, watched my every move as I pulled room 21's curtain to the side and entered her room. In her early eighties, it was apparent to me that my entrance into her life was more important than the abdominal pain that brought her to our emergency department. In the corner sat a slight man with wispy gray hair poking out from the border ...

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