I felt like the stack of charts rose past my head and all the way to the ceiling.  I pulled out my pen, opened the first, and started charting.  I took a moment before each note to collect my thoughts.  The patients were complex, the problems sometimes insurmountable.  The nursing station at the facility was buzzing with activity around me.  Phones were ringing, alarms were crying for attention. On the desk ...

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Many hospitals around the nation have been stung by dreadful physician engagement scores. Engagement is a problem not only for demoralized physicians, but for health care organizations, their employees, and everyone they serve. They should take note, because low levels of engagement are associated with higher physician turnover, increased error rates, poorer rates of patient cooperation in treatment, and lower levels of patient satisfaction. Definitions of engagement vary, but it generally ...

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Recently, the wife of a prominent Boston businessman -- one of my many wealthy, white patients at Massachusetts General Hospital -- greeted me this way: “So what foreign medical school did you go to anyway?” For background, I’m a petite, Middle Eastern young woman with a headscarf, and I’m guessing I do not resemble her vision of what a doctor “should” look like. That image is probably taller, whiter, male and ...

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It will be six months since my mother passed away. I kept my mother’s illness a secret. Not because I was ashamed and embarrassed but I did not want to advertise to the entire world of what she was going through out of respect to her and my family. So you sit there, put on a front like everything is cool and continue on your daily routine, until one day everything ...

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Me: Hello Mrs. Smith, my name is [BEEP!] Dr. Gandolfo and I am a [BEEP!] gastroenterologist. [BEEP!] Your doctor wanted me to [BEEP!] talk to you about something that showed up on [BEEP!] your CT scan. Mrs. Smith: Who are you? I [BEEP!] didn’t hear your name? Me (louder): It’s Fred Gandolfo, I am the [BEEP!] stomach doctor. [BEEP!] I need to talk to you about [BEEP!] that CT scan you had.  You see, there was … [BEEP!] [BEEP!] [BEEP!] Can you straighten your ...

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Mnemonics can be incredibly cool. When I was in medical school, there was just too much stuff to remember and memory aids were so very helpful. Most specifically I refer to the vile and inappropriate one that helped me remember the cranial nerves which I remember to this day and will not share in print. In ancient times orators used memory palaces to memorize long speeches or poems, associating words with ...

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Requesting a second opinion can be a touchy subject for a patient. I’d like to think that when I was in practice, I was never offended when a patient’s family requested a second opinion, but that probably doesn’t universally reflect my response in every circumstance. But I am confident in saying that as often as not, I would be the one suggesting that we get another pair of eyes to ...

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Every business on earth has an angle on the market.  Business leaders around the world work tirelessly, attempting to edge out their competitors by delivering the best service to their customers. When all is said and done, physicians want to deliver the best care they can to each patient.  As medical students who are eager to serve, we are committed to examining the space where business and medicine intertwine ...

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"What is your personal experience with human suffering?" he asked. Fellowship interview season. Interviewing for pulmonary and critical care, one may expect such a question. I thought I was ready for it. But the simple truth is that I didn't really have the right answer; I probably never will. During the morning rounds, my attending physician heaved a weary sigh: "150,000 people die every day!" Out of the blue. I quizzingly ...

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Part of a series. Among Medicare recipients, those discharged from the hospital incur about a 20 percent risk of an unplanned readmission within 30 days. The number is higher for some conditions such as heart failure. This is the result of a terribly dysfunctional health care delivery system. Of course some patients will need readmission; the number can never be pushed down to zero, but 20 percent is appalling. Why ...

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