It’s really quite easy to kill a doctor. Here’s a step-by-step process guaranteed to succeed at least 400 times a year: Start early. Be sure to denigrate medical students whenever possible. Even if they’ve come to the profession later in life and have accomplished all kinds of amazing things personally and professionally (which don’t count, of course, since those are other professions) they don’t know squat about medicine and you do. Make sure to emphasize ...

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Sexism is a major problem in education around sciences, technology and engineering. The first step in addressing this problem is awareness. A new study suggests many men deny that sexism is a problem in STEM fields. A study in Psychology of Women Quarterly says that that among 423 respondents in an online forum, men were more likely to suggest sexism isn't a problem even when confronted with evidence it is. Wow, men are ...

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I arrived at my designated gate at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.  After handing over my crumpled boarding pass for scanning, I made my way down the jetway and onto what appeared to be a small but fairly packed little jet. Passengers on each side of the aisle eyed me as I walked past, a few noticed that my jeans were soaked from the knees down. Some caught the odor that trailed ...

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A front page entry in a recent issue of Anesthesiology News: "Physicians Versus CRNAs: Redefining Roles in the Changing Landscape of Health Care."  Sounds like a prize fight or a gang war: Crips vs. Bloods.  I immediately got my boxing gloves on, readying myself for another bout of vitriol and dislike thinly disguised as concerns for patient safety.  But the author, Michael DeCicca, a second-year anesthesia resident, surprised me. He writes: “Logically the ...

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Doctors have a difficult time adjusting to other cultures and because of this flaw, patients, and the medical profession suffer.  By culture, I do not mean religious or philosophical background, socio-economic difference, country of origin, nor even the silence created by language and education barriers.  I am referring to the communication and comprehension chasms that exist between different occupations and physicians. What are the core values and guiding principals of medical ...

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Atul Gawande is the preeminent physician-writer of this generation. His new book, Being Mortal, is a runaway bestseller, as have been his three prior books, Complications, Better, and The Checklist Manifesto. One of the joys of my recent sabbatical in Boston was the opportunity to spend some time with Atul, getting to see what an inspirational leader and superb mentor he is, along with being a warm and menschy human being. In my continued series of ...

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ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott's recent death has given the American public a chance to reflect on what it means to live with a cancer diagnosis. His speech at the ESPY awards in the summer of 2014 was widely hailed as an inspiration to people with cancer. Obviously, the Jimmy Valvano Award for Perseverance with the ties to cancer research (Jimmy V Foundation) and Scott's public image as someone being ...

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It was a rather unlikely place to begin my clinical career. Shortly after starting medical school, I signed up to volunteer in the hospice unit of my academic medical center.   The first few visits I relegated myself to fairly banal activities.  I shredded old medical records, or I might do a load of laundry for a family member who had been waiting tentatively by their loved one's side and was ...

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Our children will never be the sole judge of our job as parents of course. We are likely our own closest and most fastidious critic. And really it’s just us (and our partners) that can truthfully reflect and evaluate how it goes as we raise our children -- what our hopes were when we started on the journey of raising another and where we find ourselves. And so, however radiant the ...

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What defines a competent psychiatrist?  To staunch critics of the field, perhaps nothing.  Some believe psychiatry has done far more harm than good, or has never helped anyone, rendering moot the question of competency.  What defines a competent buffoon?  A skillful brute?  An adroit half-wit?  Having just finished Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, a reader might easily conclude that psychiatric competency is ...

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