Three weeks ago, I changed jobs.  I left a high-tech, high-volume teaching hospital in one of the largest medical centers in the U.S. for the greener pastures of a small, private community hospital.  Why? I needed a less stressful position, lower acuity patients and to be rid of the madness of commuting. I am a registered nurse with experience in emergency and trauma nursing, critical care, electrophysiology and cardiovascular surgery. I ...

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The practice of medicine in the United States is almost entirely based on national guidelines and regulations. Minor, inconsequential differences may exist from state to state, but nothing significant enough to justify the current requirement of comprehensive, redundant licensing of physicians in each individual state in which they practice. Notably, in an uncommon example of federal common sense, physicians can work at any Veterans Administration facility, in any state, with any ...

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One day into our medical center’s newly announced colleague appearance policy, nobody has yet approached my office with a steel wool soap pad to make any of the docs or medical assistants shine. My active white coat went into the laundry bin the day before, having inserted my left sleeve into a puddle of spilled coffee. The other two lab coats with hospital logo remain in their plastic protective coating, ...

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This is a very controversial essay, but I am going to express how some women physicians, like myself, feel at the VA hospital. I came home one day after my clinic and was perturbed. I called my significant other and the emotion of the day unraveled. I was reporting an uncomfortable interaction I had with an older male patient. During this patient encounter, his tone and comments became sexually charged and ...

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As a member of the general population, we see physicians as those who were born with a calling. Though society acknowledges that becoming a doctor is difficult, it is near impossible to fathom exactly what that title entails. I was raised in a small rural community in which resources were quite limited. The nearest grocery store was a 35-minute drive away, there were no coffee shops or traffic lights, and we ...

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Most primary care physicians (PCPs) who admit patients to a hospital are family practitioners or internists. Since medicine becomes more complex each day, PCPs must remain up-to-date on the latest treatment related to drugs, surgery, procedures, risks, complications, and costs. This might require your PCP to be a quarterback bringing together a team of consulting specialists to guide you through your hospital stay. The economics of hospitalization are changing, and since ...

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When, aged thirteen, my best friend died of complications from sickle cell disease, her parents could not attend her funeral, or find out where she was buried. My mom explained to me that in the Yoruba culture, because parents are not expected to survive their children, it is considered an abomination for a parent to know where their child is buried. So, the young adults in the extended family attended ...

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“Hey, doc, you’re killing me.” Or, more specifically, us. A recent report from researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine points to medical errors as the third leading cause of death in this country. Despite the many safeguards put in place by the government, hospitals, and doctors, themselves, more than 250,000 people a year in the U.S. die from hospital-acquired infections, wrong-site surgeries, medication mistakes and a host of ...

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I am known by my patients and friends for my calm, imperturbable manner.  Yes, I am equipped with the full range of human emotions, but few folks have ever seen me raise my voice or demonstrate bulging next veins.  I am not suggesting this is a virtue or a character flaw, but is just the way I am wired. Sure, I get irritated and frustrated with the absurdities of life, as ...

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As a locum tenens physician in rehabilitation hospitals, I see patients with some of the most unique injuries. From rare brain infections contracted in exotic lands, to the consequences of ill-advised horseplay with guns or ATVs, I’d begun to wonder if maybe I’d seen it all. And then I met a grandma from New Jersey, who had a life-changing encounter on a nature trail out west. In her dutiful effort to ...

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