When we go to the deli, we expect to take a number and wait in line. Accomplishing any task at the department of motor vehicles can be an ordeal of waiting and then being herded out the door. This is part of life in American society. However, it should not be part of your health care. Patients need personalized attention and they need a health care team that listens to them, ...

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STAT_LogoOne of the most sought-after tickets on Broadway these days is Angels in America, a revival of Tony Kushner’s seminal play about the AIDS crisis and its aftermath. While only a few of us will be fortunate enough to see the show in person, everyone can benefit from the following insight: When the play originally debuted in ...

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We’ve all heard the excuse or explanation that "it’s society’s fault," to explain someone’s failure.  We hear expressions like this often when an individual has committed a crime or simply failed to succeed.  Personal accountability is diluted as we are told that this person came from an imperfect home, had no role models or ample education. These arguments are often wielded by those who have been favored with society’s blessings and ...

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I still feel a little anxiety whenever I ask someone about suicide. I have no fear when asking The Question -- “Have you been thinking about killing yourself?” -- but sometimes I find that I’m not breathing while I await the answer. What if this person says “yes”? This anxiety persists even though it’s literally part of my job to ask this question. Despite having asked this question thousands of times, I still ...

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I am a frequent traveler and spend a lot of time in a number of different cities. The one I’ve currently been spending the most time in is a place, quite frankly, I’m crazy about: New York City! Anyone who writes a lot is usually also by default, a keen observer of people, and there’s no place better to do this than a busy, crowded city. There’s an interesting habit that ...

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Editor's note: Graphic image below. Envision a large, loafy muffin top. Not just a central bulge or even love handles. I’m speaking of an apron of skin and fat that hangs down over many an American’s lower torso and groin. Surely you’ve seen it -- you may even have one. Its medical name is the pannus. I had never heard of a pannus in medical school and I still never hear it ...

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It is not clear whether Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade were getting drug treatment for depression. What is clear is that suicide in the U.S. has never been higher even as the use of SSRI antidepressants has also never been higher. One in every eight American adults recently took an antidepressant says the CDC and the number is only rising. Are the drugs working? The use of ...

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I've thought a great deal about what to say, if anything, about the two suicides recently of two people who were not merely celebrities in the TMZ sense, but people who represented creativity -- perhaps in a way that seemed tangible to the rest of us -- and seem to have become celebrities almost by happenstance. Suicide is not an unfamiliar or difficult topic for me. After all, I am someone ...

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Dr. Eugene Gu. He is -- was -- a surgical resident at Vanderbilt University. His resume exemplifies academic perfection: valedictorian in high school, undergraduate degree from Stanford, medical degree from Duke, surgical residency at Vanderbilt. He also founded his own research company. Not once throughout the span of his academic or professional career would one have any reason question his capability or competency. But several weeks ago Vanderbilt fired him, citing “performance” issues. Why? Because ...

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As is often the case when flying I was rewarded for offering a greeting to my row mate on the plane with a bit of insight and knowledge I’d have missed had I not simply reached out a hand and said, “Hi, I’m Darrell.” My momentary companion (we each moved to more spacious seats) had been a schoolmate of the recently deceased Kate Spade. He confirmed her years-long struggle with ...

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Being intentional about everything in your life is one of the major pillars to having a balanced life. It all begins with organizing your priorities; and once you have set your priorities, you can develop a schedule that reflects them. In my case, my top priority is having a career that will allow me to live life on my own terms. Personally, living life on my own terms means having ...

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Today one of my favorite families came for a visit.  The kids were behind on their check-ups, but this wasn’t too surprising. Their young mom was recently diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and was working her way through surgeries and chemo.  The length of time since our last visit made me worry that mom’s health kept the kids from their routine visits,  but upon entering the room she looked well. ...

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“I am so happy I’m not in residency anymore!” he said with a big grin on his face. “I mean, I learned a lot, don’t get me wrong,” he tried to rectify the situation after realizing who he was talking to, “I just remember how tired I was and how I never saw my family.” This was not the first, nor the last, time I heard something like this. So many ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 58-year-old man is evaluated in follow-up for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which was diagnosed 2 years ago. He has cough and shortness of breath and now requires supplemental oxygen at rest. Previous evaluations have not identified any cause for his symptoms other than progressive IPF. He has participated in pulmonary ...

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My wife is a urogynecologist lucky enough to get through her seven years of residency plus fellowship with “only” $124,000 of student debt. When we discussed how we were going to get rid of this debt, she had always assumed that it was going to take a couple decades to pay off. With our combined income, we certainly could’ve lived like paupers and extinguished her loans rapidly. However, I knew a ...

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Spoiler alert!  I recently started watching Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale after continuing to hear rave reviews about the show.  It is based on the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood.  I just started watching this weekend and am now caught up to season 2; it’s that good.  It portrays a world in which fertility and birth rates have declined so drastically, that fertile women have been forced to serve as handmaids ...

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For the last 8 years, I have worked as a locum tenens hospitalist. I began on this path when it was the least popular option upon graduation from residency. I did countless hours of research trying to find accurate information about locum tenens companies, but never found anything written by physicians, only by the companies themselves. So, I stepped into this field blindfolded and learned the hard way. Since then, I have ...

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Recently, I entered an essay contest on advice you would give to future medical students. I sincerely believe that the best person to write an article offering advice to younger medical students should come from a person who didn’t match. Also known as me. Why, you say? Well, for everyone else, Match Day is a culmination of four years of mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing work. They might even forget ...

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During the 1990s Dr. Jack Kevorkian drove his Volkswagen van through an unmet need in American medicine euthanizing 130 patients who felt death was the only solution to their suffering. He euthanized his "patients" with devices he named the "Thanatron" and the "Mercitron." The former allowed his patients to administer IV barbiturates and potassium while to latter delivered carbon monoxide. When convicted of manslaughter, he told the court, “Dying is ...

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A few years ago my son expressed interest in racing bicycles. I thought that would be a great way to spend time with him, and if I was going to be at all the races, I might as well race too. It would also help me take a few unwanted pounds off and get me into better shape. We started racing part way through the year and learned the nuances of ...

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