Since the birth of our nation, labor unions have existed in one form or another in the United States. Unions are a force to protect the "working population" from inequality, gaps in wages and a political system failing to represent specific industry groups. Historically, unions organize skilled workers in a specific corporation, such as a railroad or production plant. However, unions can organize numerous workers within a particular industry. Known ...

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Five years ago today I was at a memorial. Another suicide. Our third doctor in 18 months. Everyone kept whispering, “Why?” I was determined to find out. So I started counting dead doctors. I left the service with a list of 10. Now I have 547. Immediately, I began writing and speaking about suicide. So many distressed doctors (and med students) wrote and phoned ...

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It’s every emergency resident’s dream to be part of a big procedure: The rush of a heart-pounding, adrenaline-filled moment of slamming in a chest tube, "criching" someone or being part of the big show — a thoracotomy. The holy grail. Cracking a chest, performing intracardiac massage, cross-clamping the aorta. A last-ditch effort to pull a patient away from the clutches of the grim reaper. A typical level-one center hums to ...

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There are a couple of times a year when there are no house staff to be found anywhere in the hospital or the outpatient practices. These include the holiday and end-of-year parties, resident retreats, and the annual house staff picnic. The house staff picnic is a particular favorite among the interns and residents, a full day away from the hospital, dressed like civilians, fun in the sun, barbecue, softball with their ...

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They come in all shapes and sizes. They are health care customers. The conveyor belt works relentlessly, and takes them to caring providers eagerly waiting for them. What is on the menu? Healing, understanding, human touch, reassurance, medical advice. All of that in a time efficient manner, in accordance with the sacred laws of productivity. It’s a miracle how top-notch care and productivity are ...

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The prevalence of burnout among physicians is estimated to be more than 50 percent and has grown in recent years. This alarming trend is largely due to changing patient demographics, increasing cost constraints, new federal and state regulations, and other external factors that have reshaped the daily work experience of physicians. Too often today, physicians spend more time on data entry than in direct patient care. Professional burnout, ...

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Empathy is a cryptic term. Those in the health care profession can certainly spout off a variety of phrases and metaphors that are typically used to describe the concept of empathy in the educational setting. Throughout my medical education thus far it has been described as “putting yourself in another’s shoes” or “sharing in another’s emotion.” We are also taught early on what empathy is not. Empathy is not feeling sorry ...

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I was a chubby kid, but my parents still introduced me to lots of sports. Soccer, swimming, tennis, basketball; so many sports, when all I wanted to do was read and eat Doritos.  I wasn’t particularly good at any of them, but some of my teams were better than good. We were champs. My swim team won the Cape Cod Summer League, my soccer team won its division one year, ...

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I walked into the ICU amidst a chaos of harried residents, chirping alarms, and the whir of the portable X-ray machine. Aromas ranging from old coffee down to vomit and stool mixed together in the usual fashion. In other words, it was a typical morning. I watched as my team gathered into a semicircle around me outside the first patient’s room and I got into my morning rounds stance: leaned ...

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The diversity of patients seen in any oncologist’s clinic is a microcosm of what makes America so unique. From one room to the next, I am amazed by the various ethnicities, economic backgrounds, and religious faiths that I encounter. Each of these patients forms a composite of beliefs regarding their cancer; just as every tumor we treat is different, so is every patient. This diversity is what makes generalizations in ...

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