Eight weeks after I delivered my third child, I was diagnosed with a four-centimeter lung mass. Yes, you heard that right. For those in medicine, this is terrifying to hear as the first thing that comes to mind is lung cancer. Lung cancer is notoriously hard to treat, typically fatal with a short life expectancy after diagnosis and extremely unfair to a lifelong nonsmoker who has spent 12 years in ...

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Ben diverts his eyes and wipes away tears, his typical stoicism and iron-willed suppression of emotion giving way to a sea of churning thoughts, feelings and memories. While visiting as his hospice social worker, we’d been talking about his impending death, walking it through in our minds from the time the funeral home arrived until he’s planted in the ground. We’d talked about death before, and he’d always been cool ...

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In the emergency room, the stress is palpable. The hairs on your neck rise up as you enter the resuscitation bay where the next unconscious patient has just arrived. You can almost feel death as it circulates through the air, like a vulture in the sky. The air tastes sterile, and you hear the crash cart and ultrasound being rolled over to the patient’s bed. The patient was fine 20 minutes ...

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Pchum Ben is a national religious festival in Cambodia. It's a time when families pay their respects to their dearly departed — those relatives that walked the earth before us, those who lived, laughed, cried and prayed in an era when we were not necessarily present. The ceremony involves the offering of food from the living to the dead, as the ghosts of bygone relatives temporarily waken from their perceived existence ...

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I remember medical school and residency vividly. How could anyone forget such a sacrifice, such a vital investment in a top-notch education? Hours upon hours of hard work while practical knowledge amassed exponentially every single week. As a lifelong learner committed to excellence, I loved being surrounded by equally dedicated, intelligent high achievers. My classmates in med school and residency were at the top of their class, and we helped ...

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Even though we have probably 20 years of work remaining as physicians, like a lot of you, I like to think about how we will spend our retirement years. After all, in twenty years we will still only be in our early fifties, hopefully with no dependents and a lot of financial security. Of course, my wife and I are interested in traveling, spending time ...

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I just got off the phone with Paul, a highly-sought-after plastic surgeon in New York. “I don’t want to be a doctor anymore,” Paul says. “What else can I do? I have lots of restaurant experience. I’ve worked in 15 restaurants during my life. It’s not easy, but I could do it. I did research on chains and franchises, and I chose Chick-fil-A. ...

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“This is a 17-year-old boy who came in as a category 1 trauma yesterday for a rollover MVC with bilateral uncal herniation, epidural hematoma and subdural hematoma currently intubated and sedated with propofol and fentanyl.” As the overnight resident presented this patient on PICU, we could see everyone’s early morning smiles fading slowly and beginning to understand the grave consequences anticipated in this severe traumatic brain injury. We could see the ...

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Would patients be admitted, or people be allowed to come to work, in a hospital that had Legionnaires’ disease spreading through its HVAC system or cryptosporidium in its water supply? When there is an unusual smell associated with headaches and nausea in a surgical unit or emergency department, do people continue to work there and show up for their next shift as though this is status quo? Of course not. Why is it ...

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It had been a long gloomy Fall day. When I got home, all I wanted to do was climb into bed and sleep and sleep and sleep. Emotionally, I was spent after a long day at work. But my husband and I had planned to go to services at temple that night – there was a guest singer that comes once a year, and I love his music. So, with ...

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