The role of race in college and graduate school admissions remains controversial in the U.S. In fact, the Supreme Court is currently taking up a challenge to a University of Texas program that considers race in its admission decisions.  Critics of race-based admissions question whether educational institutions would serve the goals of affirmative action better by relying exclusively on non-race based criteria, such as socioeconomic status and family ...

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Recently, my middle school daughter has been learning about the use of the scientific method in science class.  In her school laboratory, she and the other sixth graders learn how to ask a question, perform background research, formulate a hypothesis, design and execute an experiment to test the hypothesis, and ultimately synthesize conclusions.  She is being taught to accurately record and interpret data;  the concept of manipulating data to suit ...

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I approached my father in the yard of his most recent home, a small, run-down duplex shack. His hair was whiter than I remembered, his old blue sweater shaggy. He was clipping the hedge in his careless but enthusiastic way; when finished, it wouldn't look good, but it would look clipped. One of his eyes was red and tearing up. A splinter had flown into it as he trimmed the boughs ...

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Now here is a novel idea to save lives and stop the cancer plague; stop trying!  Sounds as crazy to me, as it does to you, but this idea actually may have merit.  Some smart people are saying that we have spent too much money for little gain, thus it is time to give up and by retreating win more battles in the war on cancer, than by charging ahead. The ...

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How can hospitals and clinics deliver care that is patient and family centered? As an emergency physician, I’ve often pondered this question after my mother died of an untreated systemic infection in an out-of-state hospital. The experience, which I write about in the January 1 edition of the Washington Post as well as the December issue of Health Affairs, convinced me that healthcare still has room to grow ...

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Please raise your hand if you are not going to die. If you haven’t found the fountain of youth and we haven’t perfected anti-aging technology, then you my friend are going to die. But you are not alone, so am I, and so is your mother and your father and your brothers and sisters and even little Johnny down the street. Now that I have reminded you of your own mortality. Does ...

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A few months ago, when I thought I should throw it all away and go to law school, an acquaintance who is a lawyer said something unexpected.  He said "law school is learning how to think like a lawyer and deal with the uncertainty within the law."  Uncertainty?  A law is a law right?  Don’t speed.  Don’t drink and drive. Write thank-you notes.  Turns out the law often requires interpretation, ...

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All professions need good communication skills. Obviously in healthcare the ability to communicate with patients should rank high in a physician's list of talents. These days that interaction occurs in a number of ways: face-to-face, direct telephone contact or though a staff member, via emails, patient portals, or even texting. Because the communication is in the arena of medicine, the protection of an individual's health information is paramount. Enter HIPAA, ...

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Physicians and the public are urging doctors to bring cost into consideration at the bedside when ordering laboratory tests and imaging studies.  Although diagnostic testing represents an important component of the rising cost of medical care, asking what a test costs is the wrong question. Cost-saving shouldn’t begin at the bedside, it should begin by training the next generation of doctors to think in terms of value; not bang-for-buck or potential ...

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In my medical practice, I've used note writing extensively, to communicate with patients, with families of patients and with referring physicians.  And yet, when I received a note, which is not related to patient care, it is always a little surprising and uplifting, and emphasizes why note writing (and note receiving) is so appealing. In this Internet age and the age of information, we are bombarded with electronically conveyed messages, television ...

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