Yes, suggestions for improvement are coming at you from every angle.  Administrators, your patients, your colleagues, your mother, yourself.  It’s quite possible that the last thing you feel you need are resolutions.  But for those of you that are looking to make some concrete changes in 2017, here are some to consider: 1. Take care of yourself as well as you take care of your patients. 2016 has proven to us ...

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At the start of the first week of the medical school at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, students get introduced to the anatomy lab, and by the end of the week, the first dissection occurs. Students study muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and other structures on dead bodies they dissect under the instruction of Dr. Abdo Jurjus, the anatomy course coordinator and instructor. First-year medical students spend around 3 hours a ...

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The drama in Syria captivates much of the world. We sit and watch horrified as innocent civilians and children suffer. The pictures coming out of the devastated city are truly heart-wrenching and the fabric that nightmares are created out of. As if to add to that unbelievable suffering, a bomb exploded in a Coptic church in Cairo, Egypt targeting women and children. Their only crime was going to attend the ...

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On June 30, 2015, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 277 (SB277), which tightened requirements so that parents could no longer opt out of vaccinating their children if they were attending state licensed schools, daycares, and nurseries. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), a pediatrician, sponsored the legislation, which quickly became a nationwide litmus test on the debate over personal liberty versus public health in the aftermath of the large, ...

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Lena Dunham is under fire because of comments she made on her Podcast Women of the Hour. The episode, entitled Choice, begins with a thoughtful discussion of choice and how pro-life is a misnomer because those who self-identify that way are just anti-choice. You can listen to the episode here. The comment that has some up in arms is around the 14:40 mark. Dunham discusses how she was approached ...

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As an intern, I once cared for an elderly gentleman who came in with heart failure. In no time, we grew fond of each other. It was almost like he looked forward to my visits. He sometimes called me “sunshine.” I am not sure if he meant it in a way that meant that I woke him up every morning.  He was almost ready to go back home when he ...

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As a pediatrician who has been practicing for fifteen years, the most frequent non-medical question that patients' parents ask me is, "Doctor, do you have children of your own?" Their questions show that although they value my medical education and expertise, they want to know if I've had first-hand experience with the worries and difficulties of having a sick child, making decisions regarding vaccinations, and raising children in general.  I answer ...

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Anyone with a computer or smartphone is well aware of the incessant alerts that flash across the screen, often accompanied by a beep or exclamation point. The alert may be for an upcoming appointment, a reminder of an acquaintance’s birthday -- or a just-announced sale at your favorite online retailer. How many of these alerts are really important? It’s easy to ignore a media news flash -- but what if you ...

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Many people know that an important part of medical school is choosing a specialty — the field of medicine that you plan to practice for the rest of your career. However, fewer people know just how many different factors weigh on this decision. As my classmates and I navigate through third year, I thought I would share several of the factors that enter the balancing act: Clinical interest: The simplest, yet ...

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I first met her in the urgent care at the cancer center when I was on call one night. She was beautiful: 53 years old, four adult sons, and in incredible pain. She had stage 4 breast cancer, and unbeknownst to her, she had a metastatic lesion in her femoral neck, which she had fractured about four weeks ago. But she'd just had a spine operation for mets in her ...

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I bought my first house a few days before starting my second year of residency in St Louis. It was a townhome: two bedrooms, one and a half baths, hardwood floors and lots of wall space. So much wall space, in fact, that I immediately began to look for ways to adorn all those barren surfaces. After visiting some local art galleries, I came to two conclusions. I knew exactly what ...

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I still don’t know how I did it.  I don’t know how I got through life as a lower-level neurosurgery resident.  I vividly remember the horrific call nights and weekends.  There are certain sensations you get when you have gone weeks without more than two or three hours of sleep at a time.  It wasn’t the foggy thoughts that bothered me most, or continually feeling cold, or even when I ...

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My wife who is eight months pregnant went to a routine prenatal appointment last week. She told the OB doctor that she was concerned she had pink eye. OB providers, along with pediatrics, family medicine, and internal medicine all constitute primary care providers (PCP) and pink eye is a common primary care condition. Surprisingly, the OB physician referred her to the nearest acute care facility. Attributing this provider's recommendation as rare ...

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Empathy is the cornerstone of quality patient care. It is no surprise that the fundamental moral code that has facilitated human kindness for thousands of years is what drives physicians to commit to their oath today: Treat others as you would have yourself treated. When it comes to the disease that is obesity, I can empathize. I’ve struggled with obesity for as long a time as I can remember. There are ...

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It's October, and I'm a second-year medical student. My best friend Carly and I have just finished a backpacking trip through South America. We fly out tomorrow from Lima, Peru, and we have just one thing left to do: eat shrimp ceviche, the classic South American dish of raw seafood marinated in lime or lemon juice, oil and spices. We wander along the busy streets until we find the restaurant our ...

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When I started medical school, I believed the challenges would be purely academic: a rigorous four-year chapter in my life, with a shiny MD on the last page. I had no idea it would alter the very core of how I approach the world. I came to medical school immediately after undergrad -- a path increasingly less common as admissions committees tout the values of “real life experience.” While I should ...

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Being sick is a horrible enough time without having to worry about how much it’s going to cost you. Unfortunately, the United States is unique among developed nations in not ensuring that the populace has a safety net that will protect them against exorbitant personal health care expenses. It’s a terrible thing to have to deal with as a physician. I went to medical school to learn how to take ...

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“Life is just a short walk from the cradle to the grave, and it sure behooves us to be kind to one another along the way.” - Alice Childress, American playwright, actor, author (1912-1994) I am awakened in the wee hours by the sound of rain.  Ordinarily I would return to bed in hope of stealing more sleep from night, but this particular day I know I have to rise at 4:30 ...

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About three years ago, our hospital was abuzz about patient satisfaction. Our HCAHPS scores were lower than expected, and there was a push by the administration to improve them. As a hospitalist, I wondered to myself, what could I possibly do to improve them?  I already believed I was doing a very good job communicating effectively with patients. Many years ago, I developed the habit at the end of each encounter ...

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The concept of sickness insurance began in Germany in 1883. Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck initiated insurance for the poor. A decision about how these services were to be delivered is critical to understanding the contentious debates around health care. Could Bismarck have given vouchers for care as needed? Alternatively, should the government control the needed health care facilities? Perhaps thinking the poor did not have the capability to manage their own health, he chose ...

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