On the morning of George Floyd’s funeral less than ten miles from our medical center in Houston, I was avoiding the word “Black.” Despite wholehearted pride in the strong Black presence in our community health center’s physicians, staff, and patients, I felt a loss of words that Tuesday morning. There was simply too much pain, grief, and rage in our community.

I was thankful ...

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I lost my mom to breast cancer two months before finding out I was pregnant for the first time ... with twins. Trying to navigate being a new mom of two without my own mom was ridiculously hard, both physically and emotionally. While I had help at first, within a month, I often found myself home alone with two screaming colicky babies. There were times I felt like I was ...

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Recently, a few colleagues and I sat down with our six incoming interns during a welcoming round-table discussion.  Being the closest member of the faculty to these residents in age and time from residency, I was best able to relate to them and their current feelings. I, too, sat in those chairs in a conference room that was last used for graduating our outgoing chief residents.  I, too, remember the feelings ...

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An excerpt from The Surgeon's Obol. July 1, 8 p.m. "Isabella Isaksen," I said with an arm extended. "Most people call me 'Izzie'." "Mike Gunderson," came the reply. Most people called him Gundy, but he didn't feel the need to let me, the goddamn intern, in on this. And ...

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I have been an academic surgeon in a large medical center in New York City for the past 20 years.  The current climate of scrutiny to systemic racism and bias (including prejudice against all “different” populations) coupled with our own struggles with growth and equitable distribution of resources has highlighted a disturbing trend. It is and has been customary for as long as I’ve been practicing medicine to relegate patients with ...

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I have been drinking since I was 13 years old. I honestly didn’t realize that I had a problem until the last couple of years. The problem wasn’t so much that I drank in excess, or got in trouble at work, with the law, or with my family. The problem was that I couldn’t handle the full breadth of my emotions. Too much sadness, or even too much elation, was ...

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I never thought that I would resign with my last day of work being the same day of my resignation. In fact, I did everything in my power to stay at my job, but the job didn't want me to stay. COVID brought a sharp focus on the difference between my goals and my employer's goals. The meatpacking plants made my town a COVID hotspot. To minimize patient COVID exposure, we ...

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Slavery has been part of countless cultures.  Slavery is hideous but was not a founding principle of the United States.  The founding fathers had differing views on slavery.  However, in drafting the Declaration of Independence, the founders planted the seeds that would lead to emancipation. Watching media, one would not know that.  In 2017, Angela Rye, a CNN political commentator, stated that she wanted statues of Jefferson and Washington to come ...

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"I can't take this, doc. It's gonna kill me. I can't. I just can't," exclaims my patient with persistent refusal of his medication. My frustration is met with my patient care team's hesitation to give him the medication with fear of further conflict and possible escalation to violence.  But who's at fault? Any of us? All of us? My second patient, lying on the MRI table, shaking his head swiftly in ...

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It was a Thursday. It was supposed to be one of those “regular” evening shifts. Then, at 6:15 p.m., my first page went off: Bed 11, Mrs. R., Dr. H. needs to talk to you. The page came from the COVID section of the emergency department. I immediately called back. It saddened me when I learned that our patient was a young woman health care worker in her early 50s. She ...

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