As I look back, I remember teachers.  One taught to be compulsive and complete.  Another, calm and humor in the face of chaos.  Another believed in me and thereby taught me to believe in myself.  One made me write and rewrite.  Above all, there was a mentor who opened my heart and eyes to the need for compassion.  That special teacher was Dr. Black. Tuesday afternoon, 8:30am, July 12, 1966:  Dr. ...

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This article is making the rounds among physicians on Twitter. Much of the information in the article, unfortunately, is accurate. For some of the reasons stated there, I left the “traditional” health care system and pursued work at the “fringe.” Part of this is due to my clinical interests: I like working at the intersections of different fields. For example, I like the intersection of psychiatry and hospital medicine, which is called 
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Having worked with radiologists a lot, I have great respect for their specialty. The job is indeed a very difficult one. Without seeing the patient (the most difficult part of what they do), they have to thoroughly comb through every image put in front of their eyes and give us their assessment of what’s abnormal and what’s not. Their interpretation will be one that other doctors will hang their hats ...

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Medical scribes are a burgeoning field with many institutions and practices exploring their use while the many commercial enterprises who lease out scribes are pushing for their widespread acceptance. There is no accepted definition of what scribes do or what their background or training should be. There is no mechanism for licensure of them in any state. They are poorly defined medical assistants. The field is in its infancy and ...

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Through three years of medical school, I’ve seen disgruntled physicians repeatedly slam the recent movement toward patient satisfaction. In our family medicine clinic, a copy of Dr. William Sonnenberg’s essay “Patient Satisfaction is Overrated” hangs on the door to remind attendings, residents, and students of the unfair pressure to keep patients happy despite their demand for antibiotics, imaging studies, or narcotics. The only way to keep the patients satisfied, the argument ...

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The day I graduated from medical school and walked across that stage with my diploma in hand, I was sure that I had achieved the highest honor in the land.  I could not help envisioning myself in a long, crisp white coat, walking down the long hallways of the hospital, with my name badge perfectly displayed that read: "doctor." I was certain in my mind that I had finally made it.  ...

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It’s coming up on that time of year again. Spring break is here, next comes school assemblies leading up to the end of the school year. It’s that inevitable time of year where I see news story after news story where children are rewarded Oprah-style for their awesome record of perfect attendance: “You get a bike and you get a bike and you get a bike.” Yeah! It’s pretty heart-warming and exciting, right? There ...

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Recently, we had a wonderful reception at the American College of Physician's Internal Medicine 2014. Sitting with leadership colleagues we had a wonderful conversation about how medicine changes. One colleague gave the example of ulcer disease. Those who trained in the 1960s and 1970s know most of this history, but it actually goes back to the early part of the 20th century. Consider the Sippy diet, the Bilroth II, highly selective ...

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As I walk into the hospital each day, I notice patients and families sitting outside on benches that are surrounded by large signs prohibiting smoking on hospital grounds. For over five years, a collaborative and concerted effort by Memphis hospitals has successfully made all the hospital campuses smoke-free. Now, in other states, hospital systems like Cleveland Clinic and Baylor Health Care have taken another bold step forward. They have stopped hiring ...

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asco-logoMartha (name changed) had recurred yet again -- her third in as many years. Despite our best attempts, remission proved fleeting. Fortunately, she had few (if any) symptoms of the cancer in her abdomen; no bloating, no nausea, no difficulty moving her bowels. Her concerns were more psychological -- anxiety and frustration because her cancer refused to go away, and indeed, ...

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