shutterstock_284306441 How do we measure a doctor? Hospital length of stay? Infection rate? Flu shot compliance? Waiting time? These reality surrogates do not tell us how a patient feels or the quality of life. They are complex to measure, require major data crunching and may not focus on an individual physician. This week, two patients reminded me of a basic screening tool for ...

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asco-logoI’m sure I am not alone in saying that I am almost obsessively conscious of time. Namely, that there never seems to be enough of it. As busy oncologists, we all have constant demands on our time, from our leadership, colleagues, drug company reps, insurers, and our families, not to mention the time we try to carve out for ourselves. But ...

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I watched helplessly as a dear friend went through the emotional meat grinder of a new cancer diagnosis. Her husband was found to have melanoma on a recent skin biopsy, and she knew that this was a dangerous disease. Because she is exceptionally intelligent and diligent, she set out to optimize his outcome with good information and the best care possible. Without much help from me, she located the finest ...

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asco-logo I vividly remember meeting her, despite all the years that had passed. At 6 feet tall she towered over me (granted, anyone who has met me will know that’s not hard to imagine) and yes, I’ll admit it -- she had physically intimidated me. But about 10 minutes into the initial consultation, I realized she was soft-spoken, kind, and, ...

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shutterstock_144352681 Recently I met a boy, a boy with leukemia, a young boy with comic-book worthy superpowers. This boy, this superhero, is one I will never, never forget. When I entered the exam room, I was immediately struck by the sight of a young boy who should have been playing football with his friends at the park or jumping off the high-dive at the pool, but instead ...

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shutterstock_227832379 I am one of many people today "living" with cancer. I want to focus on the impact cancer has on my personal finances, and this is probably true for any chronic illness, not just cancer. First, you often have to give up your job. While undergoing chemo, most of us don't have the energy for a full time job. And if you do ...

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Norman cried the night his daughter was born. For hours and hours. Each time he looked at her perfect head, touched the few strands of blond hair, held her in his arms, soft, smooth skin, soapy smell, pale blue eyes, tears poured down his cheeks. He felt alive. He felt alone. They named her Matilda, after his father. It was the right thing to do, because his father, Matthew, had ...

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shutterstock_167665019 I found out my mother was dying via text message: YOUR MOM HAS A BRAIN TUMOR IN HOSPITAL -- DAD When the neurosurgery PA wheeled the computer into the exam room to show us the MRI the next morning, I found myself silently uttering an unanswered prayer that the mass would be small, resectable, peripheral. It wasn’t. “Oh my God,” Mom whispered. “I’m going to ...

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shutterstock_262498211 As my third year of clinical rotations comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on the ways in which I use my training as an anthropologist on the wards. One patient comes to mind, a recent immigrant from South Asia who came into the hospital after an accident where he was bicycling and got hit by a car. He was scanned from ...

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The acronym "MI" has traditionally meant myocardial infarct, or heart attack. Recently it's taken on a new, more salubrious meaning: motivational interviewing. A growing number of docs are practicing this technique, which amounts to listening to patients to help them recognize their internal sources of behavior. Boston's NPR affiliate, WBUR, describes typical MI interventions in which doctors, instead of demanding that patients stop smoking or drinking or overeating, gently ...

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