As a goal-oriented individual, I pack my days with appointments, deadlines, and to-do lists. Unfortunately, the time I spend getting from one task to the next gets lost in my focus on end results -- a common blindness of Westerners who measure success or achievement by results and not by how one “plays the game.” As parents, we teach our children it’s not whether you win or lose, but how ...

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Imposter syndrome (n.): Term coined in 1970 by psychologists and researchers to informally describe people who are unable to internalize their accomplishments despite external evidence of their competence. When I was in medical school, I remember walking outside the library and trying not to glance inside to see how many of my classmates appeared to be meticulously studying for final exams. I remember trying to ignore their off-hand, and occasionally self-congratulating, ...

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You see your gastroenterologist with long-standing stomach pain. You have undergone a reasonable evaluation and all the endoscopic bodily invasions, and imaging studies of your abdomen have been normal. Repeated lab work provides no clue explaining your distress. You have been twice to the emergency room and were sent home with prescriptions that didn’t work. You are frustrated and so is your gastro guy. You are convinced that there is ...

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Mnemonics can be incredibly cool. When I was in medical school, there was just too much stuff to remember and memory aids were so very helpful. Most specifically I refer to the vile and inappropriate one that helped me remember the cranial nerves which I remember to this day and will not share in print. In ancient times orators used memory palaces to memorize long speeches or poems, associating words with ...

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Dear American Board of Pediatrics: On December 17 2015, at 3:01 in the middle of my busy day seeing patients, I voluntarily gave up my American Board of Pediatrics certification. I thought I should write this letter, hopefully preempting any more threatening emails warning me that I must pay up or lose my certification. This was not mere oversight on my part. This was purposeful. The reason I am no longer ABP ...

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Within the last several weeks, I’ve had two plumbing issues that have caused me to reflect on the honorability of various professions and the way in which people go about earning an honest day’s crust. Let me take you back to the beginning of the story. I was actually working nights a couple of months ago when I noticed, just before I was about to leave for the hospital, that my ...

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Requesting a second opinion can be a touchy subject for a patient. I’d like to think that when I was in practice, I was never offended when a patient’s family requested a second opinion, but that probably doesn’t universally reflect my response in every circumstance. But I am confident in saying that as often as not, I would be the one suggesting that we get another pair of eyes to ...

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american society of anesthesiologistsA guest column by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, exclusive to KevinMD.com. Fire Prevention Week.  National Volunteer Week.  Save Your Vision Week.  The list goes on! These observances or “awareness weeks” aim to advocate important messages both locally and nationally to the media and public. You may wonder about the effectiveness of an overload of awareness weeks, ...

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“Oh God!” she groaned, looking upward with tears flooding her cheeks, which were stretched into the shape of agony. Her chest heaved uncontrollably with grief. “I am so very sorry,” I whispered again while leaning in and stroking her hand. This is what death notification often looks like and feels like. We doctors should be masters of delivering some of the worst news that could ever be uttered; the worst news that ...

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If you have a life where you never, ever say yes when you mean no, then you can stop reading right now. But I guess that you’re a lot like me. Now and then, you get caught off guard. And before you know it, you’re staying late to see that emergency patient. Bringing cupcakes for the second-grade class. Volunteering for the coffee meet-and-greet at church next Sunday. What’s up with that? We’re smart. ...

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