Whether experiencing emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, or a low sense of personal achievement, 4 in 10 U.S. surgeons exhibit signs and symptoms of burnout. Among neurosurgeons that number jumps to nearly 60 percent. Burned out surgeons are more likely to report substance abuse, clinical depression, and suicidal ideation. They are more prone to medical errors. Interestingly, academic practice, trauma sub-specialty, increased nights of call, longer hours worked, younger ...

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No one likes being in the hospital. For the most part our beds at home are more comfortable, eating our own food is enjoyable, and sleeping in real pajamas is always preferred. So if this is the case, why do up to 30 percent of us having such trouble staying out of the hospital and not being readmitted after we leave? When we’re first in the hospital, we’re focused on getting ...

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Dear personal trainers, I’ll admit it: I was skeptical. In the past, I doubted that personal trainers -- at least for me -- could offer real value. It’s not that I gave it much thought, or had anything against personal training, but if the idea were brought up, I’d laugh it off and say, “No personal trainer can push me harder than I push myself.” But I’m writing this to say that I was ...

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Several friends have pointed out to me their observations of my interactions when in public places: That people strike up random conversations with me, ask for directions, of if I could take a couple’s picture at a touristy hot spot, etc.  These types of interactions are becoming less awkward to me in the last few years, and I initially attributed my approachability to giving off a “psychiatrist” vibe, as if people can sense that ...

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Netflix listens to doctors.  Google, Facebook, and Apple listen to doctors.  The United States Navy and Marine Corps listen. The above companies have updated their maternity leave policies -- lengthening them all past 12 weeks.  And all paid. But yet, health care doesn’t listen to doctors.  And let me tell you how. I am pregnant.  Which is a blessing in of itself.  In fact, this is my 4th pregnancy, but I only have one child living. ...

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An excerpt from Trauma Room Two. Sometimes when I am bored, when it is all sore throats and dental pains, when I feel more like I am a social worker and a hand-holder than an emergency medicine physician, I play a game. I do not look at the chart before ...

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“Doctor, I am ready to die.” I knew her from a few years back. This patient of mine. I am a hospitalist and the patients in my care come and go, making it difficult to really form relationships like the ones primary care physicians have with their panel of patients. But this patient was different.  I saw her once many years ago when she was gravely ill, and we managed to pull her ...

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At a family outing to the zoo a few weeks ago I sat on a bench to nurse my 6-month-old son while my husband took our older son on the carousel. I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Nice job, Mama!” I looked up and saw a woman smiling ear to ear as she was dragged by her own child towards the carousel. I got a little misty. Even as ...

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The extraordinary pain of many people around you is unaddressed, and the scale of that unmet need would shock you if you saw it. Compartments of privacy separate you from the experience of your neighbors and even your own families. I understand that you have been unaware as well as hopeful that our medical system will either fix the problems or, at least, soothe the pain. It does neither consistently. ...

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A new television series called Code Black debuted on CBS. The show’s name supposedly means the emergency department has too many patients and not enough staff. In my over 40 years in medicine, I’ve seen many busy, understaffed EDs but never heard anyone call it a Code Black. There is the usual array of standard medical characters -- the inexperienced new residents on their first day at work, the savvy nurses, ...

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