On our first night in Dublin, my mother and I head straight to a pub. We sit at a table across the room from a cheerful woman who looks to be in her eighties. It doesn’t take her long to walk across the room and join us. She grasps her pint of beer and takes a long gulp. We learn that her name is Mary and she welcomes us with ...

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Doctors see firsthand the toll that today’s increasingly stressful society takes on patients: Engineers, office managers, teachers, you name it. Work demands have increased, as has multitasking. Pressures outside the workplace add additional stress. Often, parents chauffeuring children to multiple activities must also care for aging parents with increasing needs. Electronic devices, always in hand or close by, command our attention (due to work or personal needs, sometimes simultaneously). Finding a ...

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My first year after completing surgical residency was an exhilarating and exhausting experience that most physicians will recall as part of their training.  The American medical culture has imagined that the nation’s doctors -- no matter their workload -- simply don’t reach physical or emotional exhaustion in their work. But they do, and as we debate the future of healthcare in our country, we need to address this problem and quickly get to solutions, ...

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A female friend, who is not a physician, recently asked me, “Do you find that, in your position, men treat you differently? Meaning, do they show you the same kind of respect that they show their male colleagues?” The group of medical directors were seated around the table. The meeting was supposed to go on for six hours. While I was not the only female in the room, I was the ...

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We have believed a lie to prop up an increasingly untenable system. We have behaved as if we could safely put our emotions aside to do our jobs at no substantial cost to ourselves in the process.  We’ve all heard the admonishments. “I don’t want my surgeon crying in the operating room.  He needs to leave those emotions outside.” Or: “This is just the way medicine is now.  It has nothing to ...

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In days of yore, people in distress usually turned to family, friends and occasionally the clergy for help but for many years now, much of the burden of dealing with human misery has been transferred to medical professionals. Going forward and given that the iPhone and social media are ubiquitous in the daily lives of most of us, it is probably no surprise that the latest psychological support system comes ...

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Words matter. At some point, we all may have casually tossed a psychiatric adjective to describe a situation or person. There is usually no malicious intent behind the use of these colloquialisms. However, during these strange and unprecedented political times, psychiatric terms seem to be thrown around more so by those trying to paint a picture of current prominent figures. A late-night show host referred to someone as “being off ...

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It was an ordinary day in clinic — I had gotten very behind schedule when a 90-year-old gentleman, who was in for his third visit in a month related to falls, came in with his equally frail wife. We had to spend extra time discussing his placement in a nursing home for safety concerns. I hastily entered the room of a 46-year-old attractive female, who was here to meet me as ...

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1. Lack of confidentiality. May have to turn over medical records to others who control your career. 2. State medical boards demand to know. May be excluded from practicing medicine in that state. 3. Hospitals demand to know. May be excluded from hospital staff privileges. 4. Insurance plans demand to know. May be excluded from insurance contracts. 5. Forced into costly, ineffective, and punitive physician health programs. May have to ...

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White nationalists and neo-Nazis marched through Charlottesville, President Trump addressed the nation in what should have been a straightforward call for unity against racism and bigotry. Instead, he left us perplexed, wondering if he had just insinuated anti-racist counter-demonstrators were to blame for the violence that ensued. Trump then made explicit his intentions by attempting to spin an argument of moral equivalence between white supremacists and racial justice advocates. He ...

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