A surgical resident is suing St. Louis University, its surgical residency program director, and its trauma service chief for what she claims is an unjustified decision requiring her to repeat her fourth year of training. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch article about this has a link to a 42-page PDF describing the details of the suit. Because I suspect you won’t read that PDF and maybe not even the article, I ...

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“Someone call for a body bag.” These were words that I didn’t expect to hear on my final day of burn surgery at large metropolitan hospital. We had just planned on a routine burn excision and skin grafting. Our patient, Faith, was a seven-year-old girl with third-degree burns to 85 percent of her body from a house fire. We had been caring for her in the ICU for the past three ...

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I have a very interesting job: I travel around the country providing neuromonitoring to surgeons in the operating room. I’m also an anesthesiologist assistant, certified and licensed to provide anesthesia. Throughout my ten-year career in the OR, I’ve been the guest of nearly a hundred hospitals in the U.S. and the UK. No two hospitals are the same. My career has allowed me to meet hundreds of incredibly caring doctors, ...

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Let me start by saying that I am a huge Dave Ramsey fan.  When I completed residency and began my current position, The Total Money Makeover was the first personal finance book I read, and pardon the cliché, but it changed my life.  It instilled in me a strong foundation in money management and offered me a road map to handle the situation I was in: hundreds of thousands of dollar in ...

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I sat on my floor, surrounded by boxes in various states of organization and disarray, sifting through a pile of papers. I was moving for my surgical fellowship and, of course, put off packing to the last minute. However, in the middle of the hectic and scattered process, a particular stack of papers caught my eye; I felt the need to pause and go through them. They were old and ...

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In the early epoch of human development, mankind learned to shape and sharpen wood, stone and metal objects to facilitate plunging them deep into other humans’ chests, abdomens, skulls and eyes in the ultimate form of conflict resolution. Over tens of thousands of years, other less pugilistic and more compassionate humans crudely — but later artfully — insinuated an increasingly sophisticated array of implements into the human corpus to cure diseases, ...

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I've known that I've had tumors in my pancreas since 2009. Until now I've done nothing about them. This might sound like a counter-intuitive, even foolhardy strategy, especially for an oncologist, who should surely know better than to let his disease gain an advantage through his own inaction. But I don't have the "usual" type of pancreatic cancer, the kind that claimed the life of Patrick Swayze and has sentenced many ...

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Approximately 18 months ago, I was asked to serve as the surgical director for operating room (OR) services at our children’s hospital. The opportunity has been an eye-opening experience in understanding how a hospital functions. ORs are like the economic engine room in a large ocean-going vessel. Without them functioning optimally, the boat stops moving, and is batted about by of waves economic disruption. If surgical admissions drop below a certain ...

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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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I work in a male-dominated field. As a cardiac anesthesiologist, I work with mostly male cardiac surgeons in a department where the majority of my fellow anesthesiologists are male. I work with some fantastic male colleagues. They are caring, skilled doctors, and I consider many of them to be friends. While most of them know how to handle emergencies, trauma and difficult work situations, many times they clam up when we ...

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