Somehow people knew he was about to enter the room. The thirty or so people in the room were seated, though people began to stand up. “Are we supposed to stand up for the surgeon general?” I asked the person sitting next to me. She shrugged. If we remained seated, everyone would have noticed. So we stood up. “I’ve been in this position for a year and a half,” Dr. Murthy ...

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Being a doctor is often more about talking to people and communicating than it is about the scientific practice of medicine. This is something that is unfortunately not taught in medical school, and it’s left to newly qualified doctors to realize very quickly as they start their careers. Throughout the busy and hectic day of any hospital-based physician -- no matter what their specialty -- one of the most common requests ...

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Dear Hippocrates, I want a divorce. Let’s face it, you and I were young, idealistic, and naive when we met. Everyone said we were perfect for each other: valedictorian and humanitarian. We thought we could change the world, one sacrifice at a time. Sleep deprivation, grueling academic hurdles, delayed gratification. We proudly wore those badges as a testament to our commitment together when we started our board certified family medicine profession in ...

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Sometimes, I wish I was a nurse. As a nurse, my work-life balance would greatly improve because my three 12-hour shifts would constitute a rewarding and flexible full-time medical career. I would care for all kinds of patients, not just stick to one medical specialty. Maybe I’d go for an advanced nursing degree; I would enroll in school full-time and also maintain a paid full-time job. Like many nurses, my hospital ...

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A few years ago, I missed a diagnosis.  I know that’s not earth-shattering, but the stakes are high for a cardiologist.  Ms. A was an 82-year-old woman with chest pain. She underwent a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for severe aortic stenosis.  The pre-procedure coronary angiogram showed no coronary artery disease and the echocardiogram post TAVR was perfect. However, a few months after the procedure, she reported arm pain.  It was ...

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We were the consummate lovebirds. We studied together, exercised together, and went grocery shopping together. When she started medical school, I took a summer job in the school’s maintenance department, just so we could eat lunch together. We couldn’t fathom being separated an entire day. It was a magical time. We worked hard, played hard, and talked late into the night -- yet rose early the next morning, energized and ready to go. ...

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My thoughts settled on the Frank Sinatra song, "My Way," when asked about necessary resources for rural health care to survive. Seven years ago, my father and I changed office buildings.  We closed the office that Friday to allow three full days to get settled.  However, we ended up seeing sick patients in the parking lot (seriously), while the movers were loading up the truck. “All we need is a stethoscope, ...

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I was afraid.  Really, I was more anxious.  This wasn’t any of the typical new mother fears I had been warned about. If fact, I didn’t even see this one coming.  I knew that it would be tough going back to work 3 months after my first daughter was born.  I knew I would miss her terribly.  I knew I had to figure out a pumping schedule with my colleagues ...

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Can you trust online physician ratings? Many people believe you can. But here’s what a recent article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) about the reliability of online user ratings regarding buying a product. The authors concluded that online ratings were generally not to be trusted for three important reasons:

  1. The reviews are usually based on a small sample of users. The authors said, “We can be more confident ...

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Last week, a patient with severe gastroparesis came in for an unexpected visit. She seemed very upset, on the verge of tears. Instead of asking her why she was in, I asked her why she was so sad. “My hematologist just retired; I was her last patient. I don’t know who will take care of me like she did. And she wasn’t even old enough to retire,” she said. This took ...

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