Doctors have several bad habits. They order piles of tests just to get a vague, unfocused view of a patient’s health. They order expensive and invasive tests to rule out the unlikely or extraordinarily rare. The worst “bad test habit” is when doctors order a test, which, no matter what the result, will not change what they are planning to do. Why do doctors over order? These same people thought a ...

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"Do you need help getting undressed?" Jon asks from the doorway of our bedroom, one hand holding his BlackBerry, the other tucked into the front pocket of his baggy jeans. His head is slightly tilted, his eyebrows arched, highlighting his forehead wrinkles. His phone vibrates, drawing his eyes from me to the incoming message. I wait. Jon reads, ponders and then looks up, half-absorbed in what he's just read, and registers that ...

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asco-logo I still remember her clearly. She was a wonderfully vibrant 68-year-old woman from Haiti. She was always impeccably dressed, loved to talk, and had an incredibly infectious laugh. Whenever I walked in to the clinic to see her, her eyes always seemed to smile as broadly as she did. “Nice to see you, Doc!” she would say. I ...

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asco-logo Young women get gynecologic cancers, and I have had my share of conversations about ovarian cancers with women in their 20s and 30s. It rarely happens, but when it does, it is devastating. I make it a point to talk with them about their present and their future; although it is something I try to do with all ...

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I would have graduated from medical school this year.  That’s right.  Just like you, I’d be getting ready to move to another city and take up residence at an academic medical center to begin my clinical training. Things don’t always work out the way we planned: like Lenny and George in Steinbeck’s, Of Mice and Men.  Sometimes, the best-laid plans have a way of going awry no matter how carefully we prepare them. Cancer.  I wasn’t worried. It was ...

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Sometimes in my research on physician/patient communication, I come across a doctor who is so good with her patients, I have to share their bedside manner with you. The most recent example is a (to remain unnamed) oncologist in the northeastern United States who practically gave a primer on shared decision making when caring for a patient with metastatic cancer. The patient (I’ll call her Jennifer Decker) had stage 4 breast ...

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I am a doctor daughter. I am exhausted. My emotions are bubbling close to the surface, and I fear that at any moment, someone will do or say something to me that will cause me to lose control, which I’m not allowed to do because I’m also a female physician in a leadership role, and our emotions must be held in check. I watched one of my mentors be memorialized last ...

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I recognized a glitch in my electronic medical record's decision support software when it prompted me to consider prostate and colorectal cancer screening in a 93-year-old man, who, though remarkably vigorous for his age, was unlikely to live for the additional 10 years needed to benefit from either test. Although deciding not to screen this patient was easy, determining when to stop cancer screening in older patients is often more ...

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Medicine can wear down our hearts and souls.  My journey in pediatrics has been filled with many rewarding experiences but haunting ones as well, like this one from my third year of residency.  By that final year of training, I was no longer certain medicine was really the right choice for me.  I was struggling with the notion that after almost 11 years of education, the destination was not quite ...

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asco-logo I have been drawn to social media (SM) both personally and professionally for many years now, but I still feel like an outlier in using it professionally. There have been ASCO education sessions on this topic, educational book articles, publications, and the like, but many of these take the approach that people don’t really understand SM and what ...

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