Always remember why you are a doctorI was recently asked to speak at hematology-oncology Grand Rounds at Rhode Island Hospital. Instead of my usual topics on gynecologic cancers or sexual health, my colleague, MaryAnn Fenton, had asked me to speak to them about promotion in academics. I was both touched and taken aback that I was now in a position to give that kind of advice. ...

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“Cheers!” “To good health,” my girlfriend and I toasted in the living room of our apartment joined by my parents on speakerphone. It had been 12 years since my last radiation treatment—my last treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Tonight was the anniversary of my remission, and in the case of Hodgkin’s—a cancer with an exceedingly low relapse rate—tonight was my anniversary of being cured. I kissed my girlfriend goodbye and tread the dark ...

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Pretty much everyone chats up shared decision making these days. And that is good.  It seems intuitive that people (patients) who are knowledgeable about their condition and buy in and/or help to shape the treatment plan are more likely to follow it. Here is an example from my seatmate on today’s flight from SFO to our nation’s capitol. Her son, let’s call him Alex, is a teen with cystic fibrosis (CF). ...

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It's been two days now since I basked in the glory. I still find myself floating above the ground. I can still feel the weight of the heavy gown and the velvet tam. I can feel the tickle of the tassel on my ear. My eyes fill with tears at the thought of my classmates - those who toiled alongside me - experiencing the same emotions. The reminders of our ...

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While reading the New York Times I stumbled upon an article by Pauline Chen addressing issues with doctor patient communication. In the article, Dr. Chen describes a highly educated, articulate patient who was unwilling to speak up and discuss care related issues with her doctor.  The reasons given for not wanting to speak up included not wanting to anger the physician and not giving the perception of questioning judgement. I immediately began ...

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Hurricane season began June 1. And, if you live in a coastal area, you may have an emergency plan. But, have you also prepared your medical information for evacuation? I still remember the difficulty of piecing together the medical histories and treatment plans of Hurricane Katrina victims back in 2005. After our experience with Katrina victims, we understand the need for people to add a simple, one-page form to their evacuation kit. ...

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Patient satisfaction is an important element of medical care. It was always important, but it has taken on a new significance since hospitals and physicians will be graded on their bedside manners. And, these grades count for cash. Money motivates. Who believes that a leopard can’t change its spots? Throw a leopard into the pay-for -performance arena, define spots as inferior quality, and watch what happens. We would all witness ...

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My in-laws are in town for my daughter’s graduation.  When I came home yesterday I was greeted with a big smile and vigorous handshake from my father-in-law.  ”I just want to thank you,” he said, standing up from his chair, “for finding us a good doctor.  The one you found for us is wonderful.” My wife smiled at me warmly.  I just earned myself big points.  Yay! Her parents and mine are ...

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I could hear the morning call to prayer as I drove toward the Aramco Hospital in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia for my early morning rounds in the ICU. I was hoping that my young asthmatic on a ventilator might be ready to be weaned off and that the medications had kicked in sufficiently. My young Saudi medical student met me on the way in and said, "I think she's doing better, ...

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I’m sweating and silently wondering how the chewing gum in my mouth has chemically changed to sand. My mouth is so dry I can barely speak. I may be silent, but thank goodness my patient is talking to me, because all his monitors and machines seem to be bleeping and bopping and malfunctioning at once. I reach for my eyeglasses, which have become hopelessly entangled among pens, alcohol wipes, and other ...

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