Can anxiety be severe enough to cause a physician to leave medicine?  Absolutely.  I know a number of physicians who have left for this reason.  In my coaching practice I am increasingly aware of the toll anxiety takes on many doctors and am making it my mission to bring more attention to this problem and to find solutions.  The physicians I have talked to are just the tip of the ...

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Recently, Pope Francis visited Philadelphia to finish out his five-day visit to the United States. Prior to his visit, many hospitals in the city were preparing for possible emergencies involving visitors from many countries around the globe, particularly elderly visitors. On-call teams were present in these hospitals, and contingency plans were in place in case people needed to be transported emergently to different hospitals despite the high level of security ...

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It’s amazing when events that seem to be “miracles” happen, and even more magical to be a part of them, however peripherally. My husband, David Merzel, MD, a physician anesthesiologist and pediatric intensive care specialist, and his patient, 17-year-old Chiann Wheeler, share the remarkable story of Chiann’s brush with death from sepsis, and how David’s quick diagnosis saved her life. The story began one morning when then 15-year-old Chiann felt so sick ...

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I hear a lot these days about restructuring medical school curriculum to help train medical students not only to be clinically competent and to have an excellent bedside manner but to also be culturally aware and emotionally appropriate. I agree that such training is crucial however I would add authenticity to the equation. Rewind back to 2002 as a medical student, one lesson that I remember best for the nervousness that ...

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shutterstock_90932108 asco-logo I have written about the support that a partner/spouse provides to someone living with cancer -- with prostate cancer and for young adults with cancer -- and I always include the partner in discussions about treatment choice or sexual difficulties. But a number of my older patients are single, and their experiences ...

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It’s a change in nomenclature that’s come a bit out of the blue over the last few years. The forces appear to be aligning to gradually push the word “doctor” out of the center and towards the periphery of health care. Whether we are talking about administrative communication or health care information technology order entry -- it seems that we are no physicians or even clinicians, but we have all ...

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I want to share a recent anecdote from my clinic that highlights how patient-centered family medicine is cost effective and simply good care for patients. I saw Mr. F, a 75-year-old gentleman.  Like many of my patients, he has a history of high blood pressure and obesity.  He also had a heart attack in the past as well as two additional stents placed in his coronary arteries.  I was seeing him ...

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As a physician, you are required to have keen senses.  Touch, smell, hearing, and sight are absolute necessities for most practicing physicians while we can only hope that taste is reserved for meals and non-professional situations.  I recently returned from a week of vacation in the great outdoors and found myself wishing that I had more olfactory agnosia.  Olfactory is a Latin adjective from olfacere that translates “of or relating ...

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I have previously written about a patient on this site: “How elderly patients can be stubborn to their own detriment.” In that post, I discussed how the patient repeatedly turned down appropriate therapy for her hypertension, saying she didn’t need the help.  Now I’m writing an update. Due to the patient’s refusal to accept treatment for her hypertension, despite counseling on the part of her cardiologist and primary care physician that ...

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On a September night not long after his 83rd birthday, my father suffered a massive stroke.  It left him conscious yet unable to talk and communicate, unable to swallow, and almost completely paralyzed. After numerous scans and other tests, his doctors determined that there was no chance for recovery.  My father would never walk, talk, or swallow food again.  With nothing more to do for him in the hospital, we -- ...

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