Anyone with even the slightest passing interest in health care, has heard the mind-blowing statistics. As a nation, we spend almost 3.5 trillion dollars on health care. To put that into perspective, that is more than the total GDP of every country in the world apart from China and Japan! Germany, next on the list, has an entire GDP of 3.4 trillion dollars. At 18 percent of the economy, we ...

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“In Puerto Rico, we call those plants morir vivir,” said a patient who sat by the side of the road while we checked her blood sugar. When I reached to touch the small fern, it swiftly closed its leaves shut, and then after a few minutes cautiously reopened. As a young doctor I was fascinated with the poetry of the name. “It’s just like us Puerto Ricans,” she smiled. For two ...

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I hear many comments and genuine inquiries about being a physician in a prison.  They're all well-meaning yet hint at how little is known about this world on the "inside" and those who inhabit it. I take my time answering questions about the complexities of practicing behind bars, yet also highlight that despite the challenges, it's difficult to see myself working anywhere else. The "why" is tough to answer. I'm not a ...

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The holiday season is stressful enough without having to try to fit a visit to the emergency department (ED) in your schedule. Getting medical care on a major holiday can be especially difficult because most, if not all, offices and urgent cares are closed. This can make the ED wait longest around the holidays. Here are some tips to keep you out of the ED this holiday season. 1. Make sure ...

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There were fewer black men enrolling in medical school in 2014 than in 1978. In a world where the first black president of the United States was elected nearly a decade ago with many declaring it to be a new day of progress for blacks in America, statistics such as this one come as a surprise. Fifteen years ago only 677,000 blacks held an advanced degree. Today that number is 1.6 ...

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Having been surgically trained and surgically-minded, I've had expression ingrained in my psyche such as "a chance to cut is a chance to cure," "when in doubt, cut it out" and "nothing can heal like cold, hard steel." Indeed, as a surgeon, I see patients in my office and in the hospital with the specific question of whether or not surgery is indicated, what type of surgery and how urgently ...

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There are highs and lows in doing any job and throughout one’s career. The highs, and the possibility of highs, can often overpower the effect that the low moments have on well-being and professional satisfaction. The health care context is no different. But unlike most professions, physicians, nurses and other health care workers are exposed to a higher frequency of distress, pain, suffering, death and trauma and all the accumulated personal ...

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There she was — compassion. It had been so long since I had caught sight of her, I wasn’t sure at first if I recognized her. Had she had changed so much over the years or had I? She was peeking around the corner checking in to see how I was doing. I am surprised she still visits me, after the way I treated her all those years ago. If ...

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Recently I had an interaction online with a physician regarding his thoughts on ADHD treatment. (Let’s call him Dr. Stigma). This post is not about doctor-bashing but more to point out the prevalence of stigma against those with a psychiatric diagnosis even from within the medical community. Stigma, unfortunately, is so indoctrinated into our culture that sometimes people don’t recognize the pure ugliness of their words. Dr. Stigma’s comments: Many patients use ...

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“Does physician leadership matter?” asks cardiologist and author Dr. Sandeep Jauhar in his New York Times opinion piece “Shouldn’t Doctors Control Hospital Care?” He opens his piece with the termination of the elected leaders of the medical staff office at the Tulare Regional Medical Center due to poor performance. He answers his rhetorical question with the obvious and simple response that doctors should control hospital ...

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