Just as summer is in full swing, the back-to-school advertisements are running. This time of year can be exciting for many — the first day of elementary school, high school or college. For the rest of us, we try to be lifelong learners: learning from our successes and failures, learning from others and if we are lucky learning by reading. Reading is a skill learned in the early school years. Children ...

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In 1996, I had an illness that nearly killed me. I was exhausted, felt awful, could barely stand up and had trouble remembering things. Yet, I somehow had to find the energy not only to take care of my newborn and 5 year old, coordinate our upcoming move, consult with doctors and other medical providers on my condition and treatment, and receive treatments that might or might not help me ...

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In a world of cyberchondria and a web polluted with unlimited medical data, patients are searching their symptoms, diagnoses and treatment options even before going to a physician. Nowadays, at least one third of patients go on the Internet for self-diagnosis — or, often, self-misdiagnosis. After searching for a symptom, understanding e-medical facts is not as simple as reading hotel amenities or reviewing a pizza place. This paradigm introduces new patient ...

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As a physician, I am often discouraged when I turn on the news and read about the state of health care in our country. I can see all 397 sides of the debate and some truth in all sides. The enormous cost of medicine is overwhelming to comprehend for patients and families and even to those of us in medicine. I think it is important to know all that goes into ...

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Several years ago, when I was working as a hospital physician in Florida, a patient’s wife said something that has always stuck with me. The service was very busy on that day, and I was doing my best to get through everybody in a timely manner. I was with a patient whose wife was at the bedside, beside herself with worry. I was focused on the main presenting complaint, but ...

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"Doctors are not the problem. Patients are." Anyone who has ever thought the above statement is true has not tapped into the vast well of knowledge and intellect found in their own patients. Training patients to be better patients brings the joy of medicine back into your practice. All of us, at one time or another, sat in a classroom. The teacher spent the first day going over the rules of the ...

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After sixteen years of chronic illness and even after writing a book titled How to Be Sick, I still can feel sick of being sick. (When I use the word “sick,” I’m including chronic pain.) If you’re as intimately familiar as I am with sick of being sick, you know it how unpleasant it feels. Here are ten strategies to help you through this difficult emotional time. 1. Start by acknowledging how ...

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As a pediatric allergist, I treat several conditions that commonly affect children, including asthma, food allergies, eczema and allergic rhinitis. Almost everyone knows someone affected by some form of allergic condition, which makes for frequent questions from families, referring providers, and the public at large. Early in my career, I noticed that many patients (and even colleagues in other specialties) were asking me questions that were either outdated or born entirely ...

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"Do no harm." This is a key phrase in the Hippocratic Oath; one that I announced with conviction at my medical school graduation. I swear to do no harm. What would Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, think about the concept of harm reduction? Canada has a drug problem. We are one of the world’s largest per-capita opioid consumers. The country is facing what has become known in the media as the ...

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I was scheduled to attend a medical director's retreat the other day, but because of a horse emergency the day before, I had to stay home, so I offered to skip the retreat and see patients instead. It would have been almost an entire day hearing about trauma informed care and the lifelong impact of adverse childhood events. As a primer, the conveners of the seminar emailed a “dear doctor” letter ...

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