The term “old school” in many facets of life has negative connotations. We live in a modern, technologically advanced and fast-paced world -- and there’s no room for certain people who appear to hold us back. Last year I wrote an article about an experience I had with an “old school” physician. That experience really caused me to reflect on the situation the medical profession finds itself in, and ...

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You’ve all heard it. Those ads about that wonderful product that will change your life. The new kind of mattress that will finally give you a good night’s sleep every night. The new electric car. The superfood. They go on about them for thirty seconds or a minute, you are enthralled, and you dream of going right out and purchasing. Ah, marketing, how powerful you are. How much we want ...

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The art of eliciting the medical history requires medical knowledge, cultural knowledge, and many “people skills.”  History taking is not science, but rather, art, because it requires interpretation and clarification.  Patients with the same symptoms express them differently.  A major feature of the art of medicine involves learning how to interpret different descriptions of the same phenomenon. A few examples might clarify these concepts. The patient tells you that they have chest ...

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I find it amusing to be accused of being an unsuccessful practitioner of naturopathic medicine. I graduated with high grades from Bastyr University. I landed a highly competitive naturopathic residency. Had I remained in practice, I would currently be eligible to take the naturopathic pediatrics “board-certification” exam offered by the Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians. I was making decent money at my practices in Seattle and Tucson. By all accounts, I was ...

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Recently, ACP offered practical solutions to physicians’ concerns about Medicare’s proposal to implement the new payment system created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The College’s detailed recommendations, summarized here in a press statement that is linked to the comment letter itself, would replace CMS’s proposed and unnecessarily complex quality scoring system with a much simpler and understandable approach as developed by the College. We challenge CMS to completely ...

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Small, independent private practices are closing, increasing numbers of physicians are retiring, and fewer medical school graduates are choosing primary care.  The old-fashioned practice my father and I have built is a dying entity.  Parents say coming to see us for an appointment feels more like a visit with a friend than a medical encounter.  I am fighting for the survival of primary care practices.  MACRA proposed reimbursement will decimate ...

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It turns out that when Shakespeare asked, "What's in a name?" he didn't have medical providers in mind. In the last decade, the nondescript and confusing term "provider" has crept into the American medical lexicon thanks to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) which defined a provider as a Medicare participant that is contractually obligated to provide health care to Medicare beneficiaries. This was beginning of clubbing all ...

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In the wake of the Orlando shootings, the usual battle lines are drawn in the usual, predictable way. Urban liberals and many Democrats call for more regulations and enforcement to limit access to firearms (especially assault weapons); hunters and conservatives and many Republicans -- and especially the National Rifle Association (NRA) -- ...

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In his recent article “Feed Me, Pharma,” ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein has been calling attention to studies showing that the prescribing decisions of doctors are linked to the amount of money that drug companies can bestow on them, usually in the form of meals, travel expenses, tuition support to attend courses, and so on. I find nothing surprising about that, and Ornstein need not be so scrupulous when he clarifies that “the ...

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I’m feeling pretty good about myself today. My patient, recently admitted to home health care, was just not herself, low O2 sats, irregular heart rate with pain on inspiration and feeling a little clammy. While her recent surgery was a neck fusion, it still didn’t completely eliminate the possibility of a pulmonary embolism. Instead of spending 15 to 30 torturous minutes in her primary doctor’s voice mail hell, I made ...

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