Doctors are already busy, but do they need to do more in a day? If you think a physician’s job is to take the best possible care of patients, then the answer is a resounding yes. But additional responsibilities do not necessarily mean more work—they just require different training. It doesn’t take unique insight to understand that doctors, in many ways, act as social workers. They help patients schedule follow-up appointments, ...

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In my office, every new patient encounter starts the same way.  I walk in and say, "Hello."  Then I put down my computer (which I take from room to room), wash my hands (which I purposely point out that I do before I touch anyone or anything else), and then I turn to the family and greet the child first.  Depending on the age, I might be squatting and gently ...

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Some of you may know that I started out in an internal medicine residency and quit for physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). Switching residencies? Not recommended. But entirely doable. I spent most of my first half of internship being really, really miserable. I remember sitting in the call room during my ICU month, talking to my mother about how badly I wanted to quit and what my options would be if ...

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There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. There is nothing less powerful than an idea whose time has come and gone. In 1846, and for more than 100 years after that, the American Medical Association as a nationwide organization for all physicians was a powerful idea whose time had come. It worked well for many things and OK for many more. Then, in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, ...

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He was just a kid. Fifteen I think, something like that, too young to have experienced too much in life at that point, but old enough to die by his own hand. His father, only a year and change older than me, had already dealt with some issues of his own. Diabetes, a member of his family on both sides for generations, had already taken its toll on him by the time ...

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Today's healthcare consumer is constantly barraged with conflicting information. Does wine prevent or predispose to cancer? Should I eat certain foods or avoid them? Is this new medication going to hurt me or help me? Many issues are still controversial, but there are some things that have a large amount of evidence behind them. 1. Antibiotics will not help the common cold. Colds are caused by viruses, and antibiotics kill bacteria, which ...

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Public health leaders must often tell people things that they don’t really want to hear. “Stop smoking.” “Eat a healthier diet.” “Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.” To motivate people to heed these messages, leaders construct simple narratives to communicate the potential harms of undesired health behaviors and the benefits of desired ones. Who wants to spend their golden years tethered to an oxygen tank for every moment ...

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Most humans, even those who are educated, can read and write, and have studied some science, seem to have a hard time comprehending unpleasant future realities, absent personal experience. Some say that people learn most from their own mistakes. If true, that makes widespread prevention of anticipated calamities very difficult. And I am not only talking about people who are deeply into religion and superstition, and those who send politicians who proudly ...

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I recently was on vacation in Rocky Mountain National Park. Suspended on an overlook of astonishing beauty at 11,000 feet above sea level, I stared out at the tundra and bits of August snow that still clung to the highest peaks. Suddenly my attention was snapped from the massive boulders and landscapes to the ringing of my cell phone. It was a referring doctor asking me about a mutual patient ...

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Not long ago, I read an article titled, "What health care can learn from the military." As a former member of the US Army, I was intrigued.  I learned many things in the military that I use everyday in the clinic.  Before that, I employed things I learned to help me get through medical school.  My military experience gave me some fantastic skills.  None were brought up in ...

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