Sometimes in my research on physician/patient communication, I come across a doctor who is so good with her patients, I have to share their bedside manner with you. The most recent example is a (to remain unnamed) oncologist in the northeastern United States who practically gave a primer on shared decision making when caring for a patient with metastatic cancer. The patient (I’ll call her Jennifer Decker) had stage 4 breast ...

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Many young physicians in training have asked me, quietly or by e-mail, "Is it possible to be a Christian and practice emergency medicine?"  I think that they ask a good question, and likely for good reasons. In their rotations, they have witnessed, first hand, life in the ER.  They are uncertain, perhaps, because they see the frustration that boils over in the words and actions of otherwise compassionate and caring doctors ...

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I remember my first death. He was my patient, a 59 year old who suffered an episode of asphyxiation. His story was tragic, a reminder of the frailty of human life. After choking on a food bolus at home, he had called 911. Unfortunately, he suffered a prolonged cardiac arrest that resulted in irreversible brain damage. He spent two weeks in the intensive care unit in hopes of a recovery, but the ...

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The behavioral aspects of poor health are even more important than we may have thought.  That’s according to a new study finding adults who engage in even one unhealthy behavior double their risk for fair-to-poor health. And the risk increases meaningfully with each added unhealthy behavior. Spotlight: Impact of Unhealthy Behaviors, a publication from United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® released in partnership with Family Medicine for America’s Health, ...

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I don’t know about you, but I’m up to my eyeballs in patient experience focus, metrics, and nomenclature. Of course, we all get it and are committed to taking great care of our patients, but, with all due respect, what about us? The caregivers, the clinicians, the physicians. Does anyone care about our experience? I do. In fact, it’s pretty much what I spend most of my waking hours thinking about. ...

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voluntary The American Board of Medical Specialties says “board certification is a voluntary process, and one that is very different from medical licensure.” This is echoed by my board, the American Board of Pediatrics, who says, “Board certification is a voluntary process that goes above and beyond state licensing requirements for practicing medicine.” Over the past few years, the definition ...

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To the suicidal transgender teen I had the pleasure of meeting, I have been thinking about you a lot recently. I have been thinking about your struggle and how to support your transition into a healthy and happy adult who feels like the world is a safe place. I have been thinking about how to best help alleviate your fears about being ridiculed, discriminated against, bullied, threatened, abused, assaulted, or killed. I have been ...

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At 6 a.m. one morning, I was playing tennis at our local athletic club a few months ago.  Sam, working at the front desk came running down onto the courts.  “There is an emergency and a woman on the phone says she needs your help.” I will be honest; I panicked a little.  My husband was home asleep as were my four children.  My thoughts as I raced up two flights of stairs ...

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It's the beginning of October, it's Sunday, and it's been an uneventful shift thus far. However, in exactly seventy minutes, a patient that I've just seen -- one that I think has nothing more than an upset stomach -- will collapse and begin a fight for her life. I'm at the nursing station scribbling on a chart when a lanky man leans over me, a toddler in his arms. He's looking at the ...

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As a fourth year student in her last few weeks of medical school, I recently found myself in an interesting new course: negotiation skills for graduating medical students. As part of a push from accrediting organizations like the LCME, the final weeks of our medical education are being devoted to lesser-taught subjects in medicine: licensure processes, malpractice, wellness and resiliency training, and contract negotiations. At the start of the lecture, a ...

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