We are often our own worst critics. Whenever doctors feel down, or burned out in our roles as health care providers and healers, we look inward. We wonder what is wrong with us. What could we do differently? We wonder why other doctors don’t have this problem. The truth is, we do. We all do. And yes, sometimes the problem is within us. But other times, the problem is outside of us. Sometimes, it’s ...

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Old age is no place for sissies. -Bette Davis “I want the surgery today!” She started to cry. “I’m ninety-four years old. I’ll accept any risk. Just take this thing out!” She looked back and forth between the anesthesiologist and me. Her golf-ball sized tongue cancer had been growing over the past six months. It wasn’t changing from day-to-day, but it had increased over the course of the three weeks since we had ...

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A cardiologist undergoes knee surgery.  Read what he learned. The phone rang one evening and a pleasant voice was on the other end.  "Hi, my name is nurse so-and-so and I'm the educational coordinator for your upcoming knee surgery. Do you want to go to the patient orientation session?" she asked.  "It's very helpful to go over things before and after  your surgery and to answer any questions you might ...

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The time I almost got fired for saving a young woman’s life I was a fourth-year surgery resident, on the transplant team. It was a difficult rotation, because the doctor who ran it was sexist and got along better with you if you flirted with him. He made innumerable sexual wisecracks in the OR while we were working, and preferred to round with his arm around me as he made further innuendoes. I wasn’t ...

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On September 4th, 2014, iconic comedian and TV personality Joan Rivers passed away due to complications following what seemed to be a routine visit to her gastroenterologist. Up until now, a wave of speculation and mystery has surrounded her case with a trove of unanswered questions. What happened on that tragic day? What kind of procedure did she have? Was it a dangerous surgery? Who was in the room? On October 16th ...

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Having children during medical residency: 6 tips to survive We had our first child during the fourth year of my husband’s ophthalmology residency, and our second son joined us during the first year of a surgical retina fellowship. Juggling long hours, multiple medical commitments and the needs of two small children can be exhausting but every day is complete with fulfillment and laughter -- and who can ask for anything ...

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I was listening to the news on my way to work recently, and heard a story about the review conducted after the well-publicized security breach at the White House. Like many people, I was shocked when the story of the fence-jumper first broke. How was it possible that some guy with a knife managed to get over the fence, cross the lawn, enter the White House and get deep into the ...

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The term "Golden Age" seemed to permeate multiple domains in the 1950s, almost to the point of triteness. The field of cardiac surgery, however, deservedly earned the term as pioneer after pioneer introduced innovation after innovation that advanced the specialty. Walter Lillehei in Minnesotta, Wilfred Gordon Bigelow in Toronto, William Chardack in Buffalo, and Ake Senning in Stockholm were just some of the trailblazers of that era. The four surgeons also shared ...

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We owe it to our patients to put on our game faces When you walk into the emergency room to see a trauma patient, do you remind yourself as you enter the doors, “Keep your game face on?” When you finish a difficult surgery and make your way to the waiting area to review the prognosis with the family, do you tell yourself, “Take a deep breath. You can do this?” When you steel yourself ...

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Watching my first below-the-knee amputation on my surgery rotation, I felt a curious mix of revulsion and detachment. The woman on the operating table had a gangrenous infection that had spread across her foot. Her long history of smoking and her delay in seeking medical care meant that she had stiff, black toes by the time a surgeon first saw her. The only treatment was amputation. In the operating room, the ...

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