Cowboy Doctor An excerpt from Pet Goats and Pap Smears. After two decades of formal education, today I’m finally set loose with real patients. It’the actual moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life. We’re each assigned to a family doc for the month. I scroll down the list of third-year medical students, place my right index finger beside my name, slide ...

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IMG_35383 I pick up a Glock semiautomatic, the model used in the Virginia Tech massacre. I need to hold it, to feel it, to rub my finger across the trigger. I don't fear death. Raised in a morgue, I worked with my dad, the city medical examiner. As a kid, I watched autopsies and talked to dead people and made up heroic stories ...

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An excerpt from Pet Goats and Pap Smears. I’ve been practicing medicine nearly twenty years, but I’m still a doctor-in-training. Every patient who passes through my life teaches me something. Now doctors-in-training follow me around, but I think I learn more from my students than they do from me. Today Brooke is here. She is two years away from applying to medical school. She has a degree in natural ...

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I live in Eugene — a sweet little community with snow-capped mountains, farmers’ markets and the friendliest people around. But a few weeks ago, one of our beloved pediatricians shot himself in the head in a public park. Earlier this year, one of our surgeons was found dead in his car from carbon monoxide poisoning. And just before him, a urologist shot himself in the head in his backyard. Before him, a ...

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An excerpt from Pet Goats and Pap Smears. Both my parents are physicians. They are never home much because they work all the time. With no reliable child care, Dad takes me to work. The morgue is my favorite spot. It’s like our secret clubhouse. Nobody ever bothers us there. Entering the morgue, Dad opens the stainless-steel doors to the cooler and says, “Good morning! Is anyone home?” Then ...

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An excerpt from Pet Goats and Pap Smears. Joy is a vibrant twenty-six-year-old woman who comes in for a physical. On her exam, she shows me a worrisome mole on her left shoulder. I recommend she return for removal. After the excision, I call her back to my office for results. “You have a melanoma. We got it just in time, but I’m sending you to a dermatologist who ...

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When Dr. Timothy Malia of Fairport, New York, runs behind schedule, he passes out five-dollar bills to everyone in the waiting room. And when Dr. Cyrus Peikari of Dallas, Texas canceled his appointments for a family emergency, he gave each patient 50 bucks for the inconvenience. Most doctors apologize. Few offer cash. Others get creative: Dr. Gwen Hanson of Bellevue, Washington gives out Starbucks cards; Dr. Sharon McCoy George of Irvine, ...

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Could a complete stranger receive your echocardiogram results in the mail? Could a homeless guy in Boston end up with your labs in his shopping cart? Is it possible that your medical records were sold on eBay? Yes. Yes. And yes. On February 24, 2011, Massachusetts General Hospital  was fined $1 million dollars by the federal government when an employee inadvertently left a stack of papers on the subway. These documents contained the ...

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shutterstock_207940108 Meet Elaine. We lost touch for a while, but caught up with each other recently. Like most girlfriends, we shared adventures of love, travel, and work. I told Elaine that I left assembly-line medicine. Now I  host town hall meetings-inspiring citizens nationwide to design ideal clinics and hospitals. Elaine shared: "If I’m kept waiting, I bill the doctor. At the twenty-minute mark, I politely tell ...

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Enjoy year-round sunshine with a month paid vacation. Earn 300k plus production bonus. No state tax! No call! Daily I’m bombarded with glossy postcards promising the good life. With so many options, why are physicians fleeing medicine? Some leave for teaching, waitressing, even homemaking. Others escape into administration, insurance or pharmaceutical positions. Many simply retire in despair. Robert Centor, MD, writes about our quiet rebellion: “This rebellion has no Glenn ...

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