shutterstock_149644169 Everything in health care seems to take a long time. Remember the last time you tried to schedule a routine doctor’s appointment? More than likely, the receptionist told you the doctor couldn’t see you for another week or even another month. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of a loved one being hospitalized on a Friday night for a major (but not life-threatening) problem, ...

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Dostoevsky's Brother's Karamazov cleverly spoofs the careless inexpertness of what often passes for expert legal testimony. Three medical experts are called to testify whether Dmitri Karamazov was sane or insane when committing the alleged murder of his father. Naturally, the experts all disagree, with each completely convinced of the incontrovertible truth of his own opinion. Expert 1 finds Dmitri insane because he looked to the left as he entered the courtroom. Expert ...

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We are often our own worst critics. Whenever doctors feel down, or burned out in our roles as health care providers and healers, we look inward. We wonder what is wrong with us. What could we do differently? We wonder why other doctors don’t have this problem. The truth is, we do. We all do. And yes, sometimes the problem is within us. But other times, the problem is outside of us. Sometimes, it’s ...

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shutterstock_158365127 I can recall, though it seems quite long ago, my first basic life support (BLS) course as a first-year medical student. The instructor dutifully demonstrated on a mannequin to eager young medical students what to do if someone is found unresponsive. Shaking the unmoving mannequin she said loudly,  “Sir, are you OK?” Then hearing no response she showed us how to ...

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shutterstock_190924184 I’ve wanted to be a physician for as long as I can remember.  As a teen, the choice to become a doctor seemed to perfectly meld my affinity for science, academics and helping others.  Better yet, pediatrics offered the ability to work with families and children of all ages and developmental abilities. For fifteen years, I lived, breathed, and worked toward my ...

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shutterstock_217177708 Radiologists discussing test results with patients, a subject that has been lurking under the radar for a while, recently came to light because of an article in the New York Times. The idea is that patient anxiety while waiting to find out a test result could be alleviated by an immediate discussion with a radiologist. That would be very nice, but there are ...

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Tupperware-640x424 A letter received by Pamela Wible, MD. Dear Pamela: I can’t tell if I’m burned out or just don’t like being a doctor. My own medical school experience was so abusive. I wonder how other students like me fare when they enter abusive residency programs. I supposedly work at a place that values patients above all else, but it feels like everyone is ...

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shutterstock_192161366 Every ER has its call roster, that sacred list of oracles, laying out who we can call when our patients need some service that we cannot provide. If I need a cardiologist, or a neurosurgeon or even a dermatologist for some acute emergency condition, all I need to do is ring up the operator and tell them, “This is the ER ...

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Three days after finishing my residency, I became the medical director of the community health center where I had taken my first job.  It forever changed, and probably saved, my career. The risk of burnout hit me early. While I loved patient care, I also found the stress, the lack of control of my time, and the inefficiencies of my clinic’s system hard to accept and to manage. I knew I ...

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It's a strange thing to be driving about in your car in the middle of the day.  For one who has spent the majority of his professional life sheltered in dark offices and aseptic hospitals, the summer sun and fresh breeze is quite lovely.  One almost begins to approach humanness.  Normal.  This must have been what it felt like before immersion into the tribe of medicine. Sometimes I have trouble remembering ...

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