She smiled fetchingly and threw her arms around me. She was so happy to have someone to hug. She was large, obese, kyphotic and almost bent double while edging slowly with her walker toward the examining room. She had sent a Christmas card and a birthday card, and I thanked her for them, while secretly praising myself for remembering she had sent them. She was diabetic and hypertensive and 88 years ...

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Like all children, I looked forward to July and August. It was a magical time I daydreamed about through the winter months. Summer was a time of endless possibilities. No school, no deadlines, no stress.  The dreaded alarm clock was banished to the night table drawer. With no homework due, no papers to be written, and no tests looming, all that lay ahead was fun and relaxation. The hardest decision each ...

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Art explains medicine by explaining human needs. In December of 2015, Dr. Michael P. Jones wrote a piece that had 27K shares: "We’ve killed the way physicians should be." It is interpreted that 27K readers or more identified with what Dr. Jones wrote. In his essay, he claimed the identity of a physician was being "killed" by the reality of practice demands. The essay referenced an image of the ...

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Dear health insurance company, Let me set the scene for you.  It was a sunny August afternoon.  A young college woman with stars in her eyes and dreams of being a dentist came to my office.  She drove an hour to see me and would leave the next day for college. She was reasonably requesting that her implantable birth control be changed out so as to avoid pregnancy during her educational career.   ...

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In 1978, the Institute of Medicine published A Manpower Policy for Primary Health Care: Report of a Study where they defined primary care as “integrated, accessible services by clinicians accountable for addressing a majority of heath care needs, developing a sustained partnership with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community.” The four main features of “good” primary care based on this definition are: 1. First-contact access for new medical ...

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When I was 17 years old, I insisted that my father, a pulmonologist, join Physicians for Social Responsibility. I had just read about the organization in my history class, and I was feeling increasingly hopeless that I would live to see my 30s if the world continued its march toward nuclear Armageddon. My father refused to even have the discussion. I’ll get to why he refused in a minute, but first, a bit of ...

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Left to our own devices, most of us physicians try our best to provide high-quality care to our patients. But almost none of us provide perfect care to all of our patients all of the time. In fact, many of us get so caught up in our busy clinic schedules we occasionally forget to, say, order mammograms for women overdue for such tests, or we don’t get around to weaning ...

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screen-shot-2016-08-16-at-5-08-11-pm Donald Trump is talking about Hillary Clinton’s health as are two doctors who have never evaluated Clinton. This attention on Clinton has renewed some interest in the letter Donald Trump released last year from his personal physician. Many outlets have picked it apart, but I want to tell you as a doctor exactly how bad it is. I would never write ...

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I graduated medical school in 1995. I believe in a single-payer health system. I am about championing for my patients. I left a salaried position in academic medicine to go an underserved area of rural Maine and start a practice. This is the letter I wrote to the CEO of a large health insurance company recently. Dear Mr. CEO, My name is Cathleen Greenberg London. I am a family medicine physician who ...

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"Z" and "S" were both hesitant skeptics from the start. Earlier this year, they’d signed up for an entrepreneurial class I taught. Z was a first-year medical student with a dream of having millions. S was his blonde-haired, model-type wife; ex-ballerina-come-cancer-survivor who wanted to help people with similar experiences. Before the course, she’d contemplated taking out even more debt in student loans so she could go into physical therapy.  After the course, ...

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