While Muzak plays (think Kenny G covering John Mayer) and courteous expressions like “excuse me” and “thank you” are exchanged in hospital waiting rooms, behind the front desk, angry patients are firing curse words into the hallway like their mouths are assault rifles with an endless supply of ammunition. Nurses are being cussed out by patients who sound like characters in "Platoon." And medical professionals are dropping f-bombs. All of ...

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Hospitals are places of long-standing hierarchies where some people are made to feel important and others … not so much. A long time ago, I was told nurses used to stand when a white coat walked into a room. (Imagine that now. Laugh. Snort. Choke. Cough.) In those days, in the patient care setting, white coats were synonymous with importance. These days, non-clinical hospital administrators, various technicians, and Clinique make-up counter ...

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comicfinal In 2006, graduate nursing programs started granting doctorates of nursing practice (DNP degrees). In a media fact sheet, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) explains the thrust for the change this way:

Some of the many factors building momentum for change in nursing education at the graduate level include: the rapid expansion of knowledge underlying practice; increased complexity of ...

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It’s not always obvious. Sometimes patients register with a chief complaint like “headache.” They tell the nurse their head has been hurting for months and deny fevers, etc. They get put in a room, and when you take the history, there’s nothing remarkable until you ask just the right question:

“So, what do you think is wrong? Are you worried about anything in particular?” “Well, I think it’s probably the plate they ...

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A few weeks ago, after feeding my face with rich, dense chocolate cake brought by a truly awesome nurse (for no particular reason other than a warm and generous spirit), I walked back into a room to check on a post-cardiac arrest patient. After surveying his vitals on the monitor, I turned my attention to two nurses and a pharmacist who were discussing the management of his six drips. He was ...

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shutterstock_223842769 There are two key scenarios when doctors fail to tell “the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.” Sometimes doctors give a diagnosis we’re not 100 percent sure of and other times we don’t diagnose something we’re almost 100 percent sure of. The truth is complicated and often more gray than black and white. Scenario #1: “You have [insert diagnosis ...

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shutterstock_139886491 1.  Wait times in most emergency departments are ridiculous. But, if you have a real emergency, you won’t have to wait. If you have abnormal vital signs, a worrisome ECG, or concerning chief complaint, you will be seen long before the person who checked in with a sore throat to get a work excuse. Patients with chief complaints like “GSW abdomen” and “found down/unresponsive” don’t wait to ...

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Idioms are expressions everyone understands as something other than what the literal words say.  For example, when I talk about “putting all of my eggs in one basket,” everyone knows I’m not really talking about eggs. We say things like: It’s raining cats and dogs. It was a piece of cake! I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. We have a few idioms in medicine, too.  If I talk about “hanging crepe” in a ...

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shutterstock_99659051 Medicine is plagued by a form of prejudice called “specialism.” (Yes, I just made up that word, but it fits.) In medical school we were united; we were all in the same boat; we were a team making our way through the gauntlet together. And then it came time to choose a specialty. A satirical article by “Lord Lockwell” circulated on social ...

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