I always wanted to become a medical doctor to cure the sick and save lives. In fact, most doctors I know chose the profession for the same reason. This fundamental desire among physicians to treat patients is because our beliefs have been deeply rooted in the concept of disease management rather than the provision of health care. As an aspiring physician and student of health care, I often catch myself heading to ...

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Several studies have explored the experience of grief that physicians feel when they lose a patient. But what about when the patient loses a physician -- when the doctor dies? Dr. K was a well-known child psychiatrist, a loving husband, a father of two, and an irreplaceable support and friend for a number of children suffering from trauma, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism and other challenging psychiatric conditions. Earlier this year, ...

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Researching your health is about balanceResearching your health is about balance An excerpt from Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Strategies for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness. The temptation was overwhelming. I typed "google.com" into my Internet browser and stepped into a hypochondriac’s dream. Once at Google’s home page, the search bar begged for something interesting. My fingers clicked out “kidney disease ...

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Health care providers want their patients to have the best outcomes possible.  They know that for this to happen that the patient must be engaged in managing his or her condition, whether it is an acute or chronic condition.  Patients need to follow the provider’s directions and orders.  If they do not, then the outcomes will be sub-par. For instance, if you the provider give a patient a prescription then they ...

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"Forty-two-year old male, chronic pain syndrome," the chart reads. I'm a third-year medical student doing an elective at a physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic, and this is my first time seeing Joe. Sitting expectantly in the exam-room chair, he's a gaunt man with a long face and dark tattoos down his arms. Wire-rimmed glasses, stringy ponytail, faded jeans and leather jacket complete the look. "Nice to meet you," I say. "I'm Angela, a ...

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Sometimes, it really does take one to know one.  Not every counselor can work well with every patient.  It is hard to understand how people can presume to know bereavement and grief when they have lost no one of significance in their lives.  Surely everyone has experienced loss at some time.  However, the death of a tame woods animal is usually, qualitatively, very different from the death ...

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We all know that physician-patient communication is important. Poor communication, not deficient clinical skill, is the primary driver of malpractice suits; conversely, good clinical communication alone can improve patient outcomes. For example, patients of physicians with superior communication skills have been shown to have superior blood pressure control.  Fortunately, physicians generally recognize the significance of good communication, and often take the time to ensure that it happens.  Yet there ...

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It wasn't so much the side effects -- nausea and belly pain that had once kept me from enjoying my aunt’s home cooking. I didn't fill my prescription for the malaria prophylactic Malarone before a family trip to India because the $50 co-pay seemed outlandishly expensive to a medical-student-in-debt. Years later, I find that my patients skip crucial medications to treat diabetes and depression because of the reality or even ...

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A recent Wall Street Journal article about how post-traumatic stress syndrome can be caused by cancer and stroke brought to mind the variety of responses many people experience in response to cancer diagnosis and treatment. The lingering intensity of those responses – physical, psychological, social and behavioral – can affect whether and how we attend to the tasks of survivorship; that is, monitoring and addressing the unique health challenges that follow treatment ...

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It was the beginning of my third year of medical school. I had just started my first clinical rotation. My very first patient was Ray, a middle-aged man with pancreatitis. I presented his case to the team. “What are Ranson’s criteria?” the attending physician asked. My mind went blank. “Uh, I’m not sure,” I said. “Next time, you’d better be sure,” the attending said. He turned to my colleague, who promptly gave the ...

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