An observation that I and many of my emergency medicine colleagues have made about vacations: We need them. We need them for wellness, to recharge, to recover. Great saves, terrible tragedies, we witness it all and it can wear on you. Unfortunately, when vacation plans are made, it is not uncommon to find oneself working even more shifts before the break to offset our absence on the schedule, making the ...

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The optimism of a Rwandan in 2015 will strike you. Take a population that has seen or been raised in the wake of more horror than the average Westerner can imagine, and bring up a problem or something negative. Too short to reach the top shelf? It's OK, you’ll fit under doors better. Hair stands out when bright red? Easier to pick out in a crowd. Mother has had 3 ...

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The amount of hostility among health care professionals seems to be at an all-time high.  Are “scope of practice” and “turf” battles really escalating, or is it just more palpable in the modern era of anonymous comments and viral online posts?  I don't know for sure, but lately, the conversation seems louder and uglier to me. In medical school, I heard derogatory comments (“jokes”?) from physicians and nurses alike about pretty ...

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Every time I walk through the automatic sliding doors, that strong smell of ammonia stings my nose. The lobby is clean -- too clean -- with a vast amount of open space leading to the front desk. The just-below-comfortable air brushes against my skin, raising the hair on my arms and legs. Almost cold enough to be a morgue -- but that’s later. The room is silent, except for the ...

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In times of shortage, we find out what we value most. And in these times of relative penury in the job market for radiologists, it appears that employers value -- above and beyond anything else -- the general radiologist. Yes, the general radiologist. The radiologist who is able and willing in one shift to perform a barium enema, follow the intricate anatomy of the inner ear on an MRI of the ...

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One of my best friends from high school is battling with leukemia. I remember days hanging out in my room, listening to music (we were both huge REO Speedwagon fans), shooting Nerf hoops and talking about life (mainly girls at that time). We were not sure of what life would bring, but we knew we were destined for big things. Denny was always more confident than I was at the time ...

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I was talking with a colleague in another section today, and she was noting the difference between our hospitalist group and her section.  She has somewhat intimate knowledge of our section because she did a year with us before moving on to her specialty fellowship.  She is a bit frustrated with her new home and its team members because she feels like there are a lot of “B's.”  You know ...

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It was several decades ago when my father, not long retired from a lifetime of denominational service as a chemistry professor, noticed pain in his abdomen.  Initially attributing this to ingestion of some excessively hot tea, he ignored it for a time, hoping that, like many ailments, it would dissipate on its own.  When it did not, he sought medical attention. He ended up at the hospital where I worked, and ...

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My patient sat in front of me, silent.  She was a beautiful, elderly woman, always well dressed in bright, matching outfits, and not a single hair out of place.  Her lipstick was perfectly applied.  She normally had a quick wit, joking about how she might drop a few knickknacks from my office into her handbag on her way out. Not today.  Today her tears flowed.  Today was the day she grieved ...

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While slogging through a crappy first draft of a document about the value of psychiatrists in mental health and substance use disorder services, I did a literature search for supporting evidence. I found nothing. (1) “So how exactly are we helpful?” I mused out loud. Maybe we aren’t: There are groups out there who do not believe that psychiatrists can or do help anyone. I am an N of 1. ...

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