“For the rest of my life, I’ll never see her again or smell the scent of her unwashed hair. I’ll never hug her soft squishy hips or sigh when she tells me to stop sleeping, get up, and enjoy the day.” This runs through my head before I start sobbing in my car. Most of the time I feel fine, but when I confront the finality of my grandmother’s existence, tremendous ...

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Medicine is currently struggling with the problem of physician burnout and the specter of diminishing wellness. Despite concerted efforts, burnout continues to expand. In light of this, being vigilant for limitations in the current framing of the issue is prudent. Words express the conceptualizations of our world and frame ideas. Such framing is meant to be revealing. However, frames and the words that construct them may also be constraining. One approach ...

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During rounds, in between seeing patients, the medical student pulls out his phone and scans a dating app for new matches. In the team room, a resident opens Facebook before responding to a non-urgent page. Each of these instances may seem trivial enough, but I’ve seen both lead to poor evaluations, reprimands, or others whispering terms like “unprofessional.” In the medical world, there’s an implicit understanding that while you’re at work, ...

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As each calendar year closes, organizations compile best/worst lists: TV shows, movies, exceptional people that bring character or immortality to our year as it fades into history. Medicine has its heroes and scoundrels. I would expect that all physicians can instantly name five teachers who shaped them and five guys they scored as real zeros on their evaluation forms. For the benefactors, we not only gave them higher scores but assimilated ...

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In the last decade, specifically in the last five to six years, we have seen the gradual disempowerment of America’s physicians as well as their unfortunate patients. Starting with health management organizations, managed care, all the way to the insurance exchange, doctoring has been forcefully wrestled away from physicians only to be placed into the hands of large insurers, administrators and the United States government. The common denominator was never about improving ...

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We as physicians need a dose of our own medicine as a booster ever so often. I went in for a simple procedure. A lumbar epidural steroid injection for pain which has recently become more than tolerable at times — nothing disabling. Nothing that stops my everyday life and living. I didn’t think much of the procedure at all because I am at the other end of operating room procedures on ...

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In medical school, we learn about Broca’s area, the region of the brain that when injured prevents a person from translating their thoughts into spoken word. When this area is damaged, from a stroke or traumatic injury, the person can hear a partner declare their love or a child cry, but are unable to vocalize a response. Silenced by their injury, their voice is trapped. In a similar way, as medical ...

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The day is etched in my memory. The knock at the door. Two detectives and one police officer. I knew the news was bad. We sat at our dinner table, and the dreaded words came: “Your daughter is dead.” “How?” I asked. “She hung herself during the night.” My body went numb, and the moment became surreal — like I was watching myself in a movie rather than being part of the conversation. ...

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About halfway through the internal medicine residency, there comes a time when a resident must decide on what he or she plans to do after three years of training. We may come across a second-year resident saying: What should I do next? Should I become a hospitalist or plan for a fellowship? But in what? Cardiology and gastroenterology are fascinating careers, but is my resume ready for a competitive match? ...

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I would like to offer some words of encouragement to what many call the “non-traditional” students pursuing medicine. The term encompasses people in different aspects in their lives. It may be someone in a different line of work looking at medicine as a second career or another just getting started that didn’t take the traditional path in undergrad. My own journey I started medical school at 28 after spending six years as a ...

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