The patient, I surmised, was the one in the wheelchair with nasal oxygen and an unhealthy red color of her cheeks. The younger woman in the room with her looked like she might be a daughter. I introduced myself. I had been right about the other woman being her daughter. It was Saturday clinic, urgent care at our country doctor practice, and the plastic holders with “express check-in” history forms and a ...

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acp new logoA guest column by the American College of Physicians, exclusive to KevinMD.com. Lately, I’ve been asking myself whether today’s patient is less able to self-manage minor illnesses than their parents or grandparents. That question was inspired by my review of notes from my patients’ visits with my nurse practitioners or to our after-hours clinic, as ...

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This May, I will graduate from medical school. I will also be part of the first group of medical students to graduate from its new Literature and Medicine track. To me and the other participants, this has been one of the most important components of our medical education. In many ways, it has kept us grounded, serving as a constant reminder that there are experiences different from our own. We know ...

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There are parts of medicine that are horrendous. Moments too painful to recount, and events that will break even the most innocent participants. And then, there is unspeakable magic. I live for the days when a patient comes to the office with a particularly vexing set of symptoms. Specialist after specialist bows their head in disagreement. Laboratory values whisper falsehoods with jeering tongues. Symptoms are transient, physical exam signs inconsistent and in ...

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The day after I told Nell she had seven metastases to her brain, she sent me flowers. She was my patient; I was her oncologist. I had met her one year prior, when she was well into her cancer journey, stage IV breast cancer at diagnosis. I took over from her current oncologist, who was moving. At our first visit together, she grilled me without mercy. Her questions were insightful, and ...

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As physicians, we are seen as leaders whether we like it or not. And as such, we are charged with modeling greatness. But do we? Our training, while teaching us to be experts and authorities, does not teach us how to be leaders. However, somehow we get out into practice and are automatically seen as leaders, and thrown into positions that require a skill that we don’t have. And we ...

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Dear Dr. Wible, We’ve talked before. To catch you up, I’m in my clinical years now and I keep waiting to feel the same starry-eyed excitement I felt during the first months of med school, when I thought that becoming a doctor would finally give me a tangible purpose and make me a better person by helping me do right by others in ...

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During medical school, I made it a goal to graduate with a degree in one hand and a baby in another. I had a supportive husband, so we started trying to conceive when I was in my third year of medical school. We didn’t get pregnant as quickly as I thought, and we almost gave up on the idea of having a baby at that time. I was already 28 ...

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Sometimes It’s important to know the news behind the news: the comments and the cautions that don’t get into the article that the public gets to read. It’s the sort of thing that keeps me up at night: trying to convey the reality, while realizing what most people want to hear is the hope. That’s the problem I have with a story posted on a major news network website ...

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D.J. is a 55 year-old woman with recently diagnosed early-stage left-sided breast cancer. She just had a lumpectomy to remove the tumor, and now has to decide whether to undergo chemotherapy after surgery. Her oncologist carefully discusses the clinical and pathologic data about her tumor, in terms D.J. can understand. She discusses the risks, benefits, and side effects of chemotherapy, and recommends treatment. D.J., having learned about the risks and ...

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When you go to the internet or phone book today, there are hundreds of physicians listed in most urban areas. In the next two decades, you can expect more difficulty finding a physician in your hometown — a major physician shortage is looming. In the last year, I have noted many mid-career physicians are leaving the practice of medicine. While the growth of mid-level hospital administrators has ballooned at nearly
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I’ve been told that one of the hardest things that a physician endures is the passing of her first patient. However, what I imagine to be even more challenging than this is pronouncing the death to the patient’s family for the first time. Although I find myself in a similarly intimidating and burdensome position of addressing the loved ones of our gracious donors tonight, for my first time, I feel ...

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In the podcast below I interview a dear friend and therapist, Sydney Ashland, who shares the top 10 fears that hold doctors back. What prevents us from being the doctors we always imagined? We enter medicine as inspired, intelligent and compassionate humanitarians. Soon, we’re cynical and exhausted. How did all these totally amazing and high-functioning people get screwed up so fast? Attention, medical ...

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“Sorry, excuse me, can I get through please?” I wiggled my way to the head of the bed. Quickly, I set up the necessary intubation tools as the patient arrives shortly thereafter. A frenzy ensues, tubes flying over the patient, people talking over each other. “Can you draw me up some RSI meds? Let’s get this guy intubated now. Sorry, but I need it quiet in here.” Tube placed, a wave ...

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When I started out in practice, I worked at one of the few hospitals in the area that accepted Jehovah Witness patients. Their beliefs prohibit them from accepting blood transfusions or blood products. Many hospitals are concerned about the liability of allowing a patient who refuses necessary blood products to die. For this reason, these institutions are not welcoming to Jehovah Witnesses. This is of special concern in surgical specialties ...

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Decisions regarding medical care are often not very straightforward due to the uncertainties, risks, and limited options involved. But, above and beyond the actual choices to be considered, the process of how the choices are made has become a red-hot topic. And the value of the patient -- as opposed to the doctor -- as the driver of medical decision is, quite curiously, just beginning to be recognized in a ...

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In a few weeks, new medical school graduates will take their turns saying the words of the Hippocratic Oath. In theory: This is a noble tradition where they promise to fulfill their duties as wonderful physicians: Autonomous, wise, humble, prevention-focused, and active members of their communities. In reality: The health care system in which they’re entering makes it next to impossible to keep any of these commitments. It is a ...

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"Why don't you talk loud enough for the whole damn hospital to hear you?" I've just greeted my eighty-four-year-old grandmother, and now this irascible voice has erupted from behind the curtain that separates us from whoever is sharing Grandma's room. The nursing assistant whfo showed me in glares across the curtain at the other inhabitant. "You shut up," she tells the person firmly, "or I'll smack you with a bedpan." Then, she leaves us ...

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Sean MacStiofain said, “most revolutions are caused … by the stupidity and brutality of governments.” Regulation without legitimacy, predictability, and fairness always leads to backlash instead of compliance. Here’s a prediction for you: If something is not done to stop MACRA implementation, more physicians will opt-out of Medicare and Medicaid than is fathomable. Once DRexit begins, there will be no turning back. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) is ...

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Dear Me, MD: Now that you have opened this letter, you may have graduated or maybe you just matched into residency — somewhere, anywhere, hopefully?! As you read this, it should be some time during spring 2017. But, you never know, sometimes the train derails, and it takes a little longer than expected, so forgive yourself if that is the case. You learned a while back that the fast lane is ...

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