A few years ago my best friend ran the Boston Marathon. She came back glowing, proud that she’d qualified, amazed by the crowds and energized by the feeling of community. Never once did she think that she could have died from a bomb exploding at the finish line. America seems to be facing tragedy after tragedy. From the Aurora shootings, to Sandy Hook Elementary, to the Boston Marathon bombings, each time ...

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There was an article in the New York Times recently about the importance of cultivating a family narrative to instill a sense of identity, control, and resilience in children. The more children know about their family story, the better equipped they are to handle stresses that would shake their foundation. Is it possible that, in the realm of personal health and well being, the cultivation of an affirmative ...

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I can remember making rounds with a seasoned surgical attending in medical school.  In typical fashion, surgical rounds were a lot like the military.  The “General” (attending physician) at the front, always commanding respect (and often fear) followed by the chief resident, junior residents, interns and finally medical students.  Cases were presented, statuses were updated and plans were formulated.  Then came the barrage of medical fact questions–mostly directed at the ...

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First a disclaimer: People often receive compassionate, considerate and effective care at hospitals. They have countless interactions which impart the miracle of human caring and enrich their lives. It is also institutionally prevalent to have haphazard care with poor communication, near misses and avoidable misery. I have been working at a university hospital emergency room as part of a mini-fellowship in bedside ultrasound.  It is the first time I have spent ...

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On the morning that I began this post, I read in our local newspaper that Tennessee is soon expected to have a law that would permit public school teachers to offer views on climate change and evolution that are counter to orthodox doctrine on these subjects. No, I don’t think that creationism is science and it should not be disguised as such. Global warming, or climate change, however, is more nuanced. ...

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Has anyone else noticed the growing presence of ultimatums in medicine today? The New England Journal of Medicine published a discussion of the ethics of not hiring smokers.  My hospital adopted this policy six months ago, and they are not alone.   There is a tobacco blood test that new employees have to pass.  If they fail, they can look for a job elsewhere.  I do not know the exact details, but ...

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I was watching a macho shoot-em-up movie the other day; the type where everyone shoots everyone and in the final scene, the dirty blood-stained hero rides homeward on a helicopter or maybe a horse, into a red sunrise or sunset.  He stares blankly, focused on nothing, focused on everything, his look reflecting the turmoil of what he has seen, done and lost.  The hero’s grease-smeared face shows the understanding that ...

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shutterstock_114258730 Every one of us feels a high level of anxiety when we are made to wait.  In grocery stores, we jockey back and forth to the line we perceive is moving the fastest and easily get frustrated when we choose the “wrong” line.  When driving, we will swerve across multiple lanes of traffic to avoid a line at a toll booth or ...

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During morning rounds on my sub-internship, we always spoke softly about TG. There was never any good news. The 56-year-old writer’s lifelong battle with substance abuse was coming to an end – her heart, liver, and kidney were slowly failing. But TG’s devoted husband was in denial. And behind the scenes, we were struggling, too. The patient needed pain control, symptom management, and psychiatric support among other things. At this ...

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The dictionary defines humanism as “a system of thought that centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth.” No sector of the economy comprehends this definition better than a small business. In a sea of competition, the small business whose primary focus strays from its customer’s best interests will surely sink. Those with business experience will undoubtedly attest that, whether in a hair salon or restaurant, a happy customer ...

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