He was younger than I was — still in his twenties — but the patient had already had his chest opened twice. Deadly bloodstream infections contracted from sharing needles had destroyed his heart valves on two separate occasions. And now six months out from his most recent operation, he was back with fever and chills: ominous signs of another infection. That was years ago. The opioid epidemic hadn’t yet been declared ...

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The ability to lead is not something that comes naturally to everyone. There are some people out there who are wired to lead right from when they are very young -- but these are few and far between. Most of us have to train ourselves, and acquire the necessary leadership skills based on our own learning curve and experiences. The fact is that we are all leaders in one way ...

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Just sign here. How many times a day are we asked to do this? "Just sign here." "Just put down your license number." "We need a stamp with your doctor's info on it." "Give us your NPI." "Initial here, here, and here." If we took the time to read all the things we're signing, we wouldn't have time to do any doctoring. The other day I was asked to hand-write the date on ...

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Without doubt, the future of medicine will include mandatory education for physicians on their conscious and unconscious biases. The politically and culturally progressive nature of medical education and graduate medical education almost ensure that this will eventually be a deeply-ingrained part of our training and our continuing certification. I’m sure that as our culture purports to discover ever new and egregious forms of bias, we will be endlessly reminded, in ...

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Doing a simple internet search, you can find a plethora of information about well-being and health. Being happy and well is a goal everyone should aim to achieve. However, I  find many of the tips out there are simply unattainable. It may be that I am just a fail at true inner peace and that my inner tsunami doesn’t let me rest. Or it may be that the tips just ...

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Undoubtedly, my favorite part of my non-clinical work is hearing from fellow physicians about their lives in medicine.  Every once in a while, I receive an email that puts beautifully into words some of my own struggles. A few weeks ago, I received an email from a colleague outlining her personal journey through her career, which she was hoping other physicians would benefit from as well.  I know it spoke to ...

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“Hey, man, I’ve been getting destroyed all night running four ORs and haven’t eaten. I am going to eat dinner before I get out of here.  If anything emergent comes up, I can help out.  Just let me know.” As I wash my hands right after I hang up the phone, the overhead call comes out:  “Attention.  Your attention, please. A Level 1 trauma code has been activated in the adult ...

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The nurse grabs me. "You have to check my patient now! She is screaming and bearing down." Without letting go of my hand, she leads me into the labor room. I don’t even consider saying no, I know not to question this nurse. She has been a labor and delivery nurse nearly as long as I have been alive -- she knows much more than I about everything. The room is dark, but ...

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The ICU nurse positioned the mirror in front of my face. “You look more like yourself now, Dr. Berk,” she said. She was right! The nurse, whose name was Meghan, had just shampooed, dried and brushed my hair. Clean and coiffed for the first time in over a week, I appeared normal — except, that is, for the tubes sticking out of my left nostril and my mouth. It was 2009, and my ...

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They say to be a good doctor, you have to leave everything behind when you enter the exam room. You walk in with a clean slate — shiny and sterile, crisp, clean and decontaminated. I wonder if that’s why we wear a white coat? To symbolize the unscathed, untouched and pristine figure who walks into the room and solves all the problems. The one who just woke up from a ...

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