asco-logo One day in clinic, recently, I reviewed my daily schedule with the oncology fellows who were working with me that day. With the exception of the new patients on my schedule, I recognized all of the names on my list. I opened the electronic chart of the first patient to skim the problem list, a handy spot where I ...

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Being a doctor is one of the most emotionally and physically demanding professions out there. The health care landscape may have changed a lot over the last decade, but the basic unavoidable grueling nature of medical practice has been the same for time immemorial. I remember reading a careers advice book when I was a teenager telling me just that being a doctor was “the most challenging of jobs,” and ...

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When it comes to physician wellness, I’m type A noncompliant. That realization struck me midway through my last vacation, which was notable because I didn’t travel anywhere, and the most extraordinary activity involved sleeping through the night. Shift work, especially overnight shifts, has a way of inflicting sneaky havoc upon the body and minds of the delusionally hearty. After twenty years as an emergency physician, I should know better ...

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One theme has gripped the collective conscience of the nation for the last year. One theme has connected Ferguson, Missouri, to Staten Island, New York, to Charleston, South Carolina. One theme has destroyed neighborhoods, incited riots, and terrorized churches. That theme is racism. Unfortunately, it’s also found a way into our health care system. Black and white In 2003, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a groundbreaking report stating African-American individuals ...

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Smitty greets Sully as they meet to head to work, “Hey there, Sully! How’s your wife?” Sully answers, “Oh, geez. She’s up in bed with laryngitis.” Then Smitty says, “Laryngitis?! That damned Greek!”
As you may have guessed, I am nursing a case of laryngitis, my voice muted and strained. This time, it has not stopped me from attending to my work responsibilities or other activities. It has required some adjustments though, ...

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Throughout the course of a physician’s career, many patients come across the path with numerous complaints and medical conditions requiring interpretations and actions, respectively. In a field with little time to see everybody at length, pattern recognition becomes important to make efficient decisions with regards to patient care. Usually, it involves focusing on the patient’s condition exclusively, but at times, the social aspects of a patient come into play with ...

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maxresdefault Sir William Osler (1849-1919) is universally considered the father of modern medicine. “He belongs to medical students of all time, as Lincoln belongs to the common man everywhere.” - Wilder Penfield, eminent Canadian neurosurgeon, who met Osler while at Oxford “His energy, productivity, and humanity blossomed out of a deep vulnerability. Between the pages of his books, we can still encounter an Osler who is … ...

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Burnout-640x400 Physician burnout is the latest trend among doctors. There are books, workshops, even special breathing exercises for physician burnout. Suddenly every other doctor I meet has burnout. And half of all med students have burnout before they graduate. WTF. We enter medicine as inspired, intelligent, compassionate humanitarians. Soon we’re cynical and exhausted. How did all these amazing people get so screwed up ...

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It was two years ago.  It was a rough morning and I felt defeated.  I stood by the next patient’s doorway.  I couldn’t see myself, but I knew my own appearance: head down, a look of resignation, shoulders slumped.  I knocked on the patient’s door and entered.  “Good morning!” I said to the patient.  I felt my energy levels depleting in the effort to remain upbeat and enthused.  The tank ...

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shutterstock_70019551 Sometimes I’m not the nicest. Sometimes I don’t say “thank you” or “please.” Sometimes I seem gruff or insensitive. Sometimes my tone does not put you at ease. It’s not because I disrespect you. I value our interactions each and every day. It’s not because I don’t like you. Some of it is just the way I was trained. You are at the bedside ...

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