Our clinic is a place rich in diversity and culture. Many of our patients are recent immigrants, coming from over 50 different countries. While they bring a zest for opportunities living within the United States, they often face many barriers in seizing them. Most notably, the language barrier is very present and one that has been exacerbated during the COVID pandemic. COVID has changed many things, and one most visible to ...

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Some forms of trauma are obvious: natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, fires, being physically assaulted, wrongfully terminated, becoming suddenly very ill. Trauma is divided into so-called big T and little t experiences, but the distinction is misleading. While physical assault (big T trauma) can lead to serious sequelae such as loss of a sense of safety, chronic hypervigilance, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); a dissolved intimate relationship, being bullied, being emotionally or ...

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More and more, we physicians have "bosses," and, as in any field, the quality of those bosses varies widely. When the White House Coronavirus Task Force was unveiled in the spring, with the president and two of the nation’s leading infectious disease physicians, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, standing shoulder to shoulder around the podium in the White House briefing room, there was promise aplenty.  Many believed that this ...

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"The new American Medical Association policy recognizing racism as a public health threat and providing an anti-racist approach to equitable care will have no effectiveness unless health care organizations get their own houses in order and actively do anti-racism work in their own institutions. Although I’m not a health care provider, as a ...

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Here’s a controversial phrase for a doctor to say that needs to be normalized: “I am tired.”

As a physician, working oneself to exhaustion for our patients is often seen as a sign of strength and even heroic.  As a rare Black male in medicine in the midst of a pandemic that is ravaging patients who look like me, I am especially battle fatigued.  In fact, I ...

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I began pursuing a career in medicine with the fervent desire to become a neurosurgeon one day. When someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered neurosurgeon without missing a beat. I chose neurosurgery in high school after falling in love with the nervous system and watching Gifted Hands. I wanted to be like Dr. Ben Carson before his political debut. At that point, ...

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Consider the following sports icons:  tennis legend Billie Jean King, basketball veteran Larry Bird, triathlete Karsten Madsen, baseball pitcher Kenley Jansen, and cyclist champion Haimar Zubeldia. What do all of these well-known professional athlete heroes have in common? They are athletes with atrial fibrillation, also called AFib. AFib is the most common heart rhythm disorder worldwide, accounting for 750,000 hospitalizations per year in the US alone. It is estimated that 6 ...

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Here I am, 17 years out of my fellowship training, and I’m just getting some of the most important training of my medical career. I continue to believe that my medical school, residency, and fellowship training were all outstanding. However, either I missed something in the course catalogue, or like for most medical students, residents, and fellows, there were some glaring omissions in the course offerings. Here are some of the courses ...

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Physicians in general are a pretty intelligent group of professionals. However, we sometimes make the mistake of thinking that we must also know a lot about almost everything because we know a lot about one particular thing. However, given the exploding pace of advancing knowledge, that idea is hubristic. But it isn't just science and technology where we fall short. During the COVID pandemic, one of the things most contentious has ...

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"To understand how to create good shifts irrespective of external factors, I turned to the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. One of its core tenets is that we must focus on what is within our control. Epictetus said: 'Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are ...

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To get to my primary care clinic in Richmond, VA, my patients and I must walk past the Confederacy's White House. Our emergency room sits in its shadow. Each day, I walk past the three-story white building surrounded by my hospital on three sides. Renamed the American Civil War Museum, it is now repurposed to sterilize hospital staff masks. The faded letters of a long-removed sign on the front read ...

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I’ll cut straight to the point: Collecting 5-star Google and Yelp reviews straight out of fellowship generated over $225,000 in new revenue from online patient referrals.  And I have the data to prove it. I joined my partner as a hand fellowship graduate four years ago. He already had a very busy practice with over 100 new patient visits a month, on average, and my arrival allowed him to cut down ...

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"Please wait.  The meeting host will let you in soon." I am in the virtual waiting room for my weekly therapy session, the little waiting room box dragged to the side of my screen as I respond to clinical messages.  I put off stretching to reply to an email, remaining in the chair I’ve been sitting in all morning hosting my own virtual visits for patients. I hate my chair; I hate ...

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Don’t let images deceive you. You may think you see everything in my picture after getting the vaccine, but you don’t. Let me take you behind the scenes of my life this past year. As I can only imagine what being behind the scenes of your life has been like for you. What you don’t see in the picture is my yearlong of agony, tears, hard decisions, and losses, like all ...

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I received my COVID vaccine on December 21st before starting an ER shift; sitting in the cold, plastic chair in a hallway-turned-vaccine-clinic, I tipped my head back to blink tears into submission as I reflected on making it this far in the pandemic without contracting COVID.  Four days later, after three twelve-hour shifts, I tested positive for COVID.

The COVID vaccine did not cause my positive result; getting exposed ...

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"Touted by some as a 'great equalizer,' the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront long-standing disparities in access to health for Black, Latinx, immigrant, and low-income communities. While we are all in this fight together, some are bearing the burden more than others. Studies have shown that Blacks in the ...

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I had a dream last night. I dreamt that my father wasn’t dead. It was jumbled in so many ways. But I was able to talk to him in my “sleep.” I watched This is Us before bed. The episode where Randall questions whether William lied to him about his mother’s death. William saw her die, but she was revived after he ran away with Randall. Somehow, that made my mind wander ...

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I have been a general pediatrician for over a decade.  I chose pediatrics because I saw the children as our future.  The only way to make the future bigger and brighter is to give them the best.  So with all of my academic accolades through high school, college and medical school, I knowingly chose the lowest paying field in medicine.  I love my patients, but a pandemic has ...

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The Wall Street Journal’s decision to publish an attack on Dr. Jill Biden’s right to be called “doctor” has appropriately unleashed a firestorm. According to Joseph Epstein, the editorial’s author, Biden should drop the title because she isn’t what people often think of when they hear the word “doctor,” namely a physician. For Epstein, ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to ...

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When the federal government executed Corey Johnson at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, on the 14th of January, 2021, he was COVID-19 positive. He was executed while suffering from a highly contagious respiratory illness that is killing over 4,000 Americans each day. Despite his positive diagnosis for COVID-19 and his risk for infecting those around him with this respiratory illness, Corey Johnson’s execution was not postponed. Who ...

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