On the way to work the other day, I heard a radio commercial advertising a local hospital network’s cardiac care services. In it, a patient’s daughter related her overwhelmingly positive experience with the hospital team that treated her 90-year-old father with a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally-invasive alternative to open heart surgery. It was a good commercial. It had all the elements: “I was worried at first, the doctors ...

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It started, as far as I know, with a twinge. A back spasm in a healthy, but prone to back spasms, 68-year-old man, who soon was reduced to near tears in the parking lot of the Thai restaurant where we’d gone to get take out. It was early summer, and I was on a short visit to the east coast. My mother was the one to worry about. She had ...

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“Food is love,” my partner jokes as she unloads mountains of food from her latest trip to Costco. “I can’t help it! I’m Jewish!” she protests, when I wonder aloud how the two of us will ever manage to consume all that food. As the lineups at superstores attest, for a great many people being able to prepare and serve meals is a vital way of showing love. I never expected to ...

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“Any alcohol use? Any tobacco use? Any other drugs?” These are the three main questions that most health care providers ask their patients when documenting a social history on a note. "What stressors do you have in your life? What social support do you have? What is your home life like? What do you do for fun? Do you wear a helmet when you ride a bike? Do you wear a seatbelt?" I ...

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I, much like many others, made a terrible decision on my 21st birthday.  Mine, however, didn’t involve alcohol; I adopted a dog. She was a scruffy, brindle-coated, malnourished 30-pound terrier puppy.  So in between organic chemistry, physics, Spanish, studying for the MCAT, and multiple other classes, I had to housebreak a puppy.  Those glorious visions I had of dog ownership hadn’t included several key aspects, like cleaning up accidents, cleaning up ...

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She squeezes her eyes tightly shut and holds her breath. Her head is bald. Her belly round and taut. Her daughter stands over her, clasping both hands in hers, her own eyes tightly shut, softly singing a song of hope and redemption. Her husband sits quietly, barely present, in the far corner of the room. She tenses when I slide the needle into her skin, gasps at the sting of ...

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Some docs consistently say “no thanks” to formal leadership roles. They prefer not to run for a board position, become department chief, or step into an executive role because their passion and focus is patient care.  This primary interest in the core work shows up in other professions, too.  My brother, a mechanical engineer (I’d say “brilliant mechanical engineer,” but he might read this), eschewed management positions his whole career. ...

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Cleveland Clinic published an article that cited the work of Cynthia Kubu, PhD, a neuropsychologist in Cleveland Clinic’s department of psychiatry and psychology. She examined the potential of focusing on relationship center care to help provide good care and long-term care giving for physicians. Cleveland Clinic uses the REDESM (relationship, establishment, development, and engagement) which focuses on the provider-patient relationship as the premise for care. The idea is a physician ...

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“Doctor, why can’t my mother breathe?” he asked, eyes full of concern as he watched his mother’s chest heave like someone who has spent too long underwater. I turned up her oxygen as we discussed the possibilities we were testing for: infection, a reaction to chemotherapy, blood clots. Her breathing eased as we spoke, and in turn, I saw some of her son’s anxiety dissipate. As our conversation came to a ...

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My mother-in-law died last week. She’d single-handedly raised two sons on a social worker’s salary after the love of her life, her husband, died with metastatic melanoma. After her sons left home, she stayed alone on the farm in the middle of nowhere. When she turned 73 and felt the swell of grandmotherly love in her chest, she moved to the city to help raise her first set of grandkids, now ...

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