Physician burnout. Physician suicide awareness. Buzzwords. Words that get tossed around. People in leadership seem to be concerned about. Institutions say they care. “Solutions” get created.  Solutions that look great on paper. Sometimes under the guise of the employee assistance program. The brochure says we care about your mental and emotional health. We get that life is hard. So we’re here to help. We’ll set you up ...

Read more...

As I hug my younger daughter's little head at school drop-off, the calming aroma of her hair fills me with peace. She scurries across the schoolyard toward her 2nd-grade classroom, her big backpack bouncing up and down, seemingly with its own agenda and dwarfing her tiny frame. As soon as I leave the school, my focus switches. I'm at the edge of my patient's hospital bed, reviewing the day's treatment goals. ...

Read more...

I am a middle-aged gastroenterologist almost 15 years out of training. I have a chronic medical disease and had a bout with lymphoma two years ago, both of which require me to stay indefinitely on immunosuppressive drugs. I am certainly not the only health care worker who is scared. Most winters that I will contract the flu or another illness from patients who want their screening colonoscopies performed while sick, from ...

Read more...

The elevator area on the ground floor of our hospital is split. As you enter, the common elevators are on the left, and to the right is a set of double doors, with a sign posted reading, “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.” And behind those doors are the employee elevators, elevators for hospital beds, and large elevators where we can run a code while traveling up or down. The employee elevators are private, ...

Read more...

"I'm not impressed with his pain." "I only give Norco if I see a bone sticking out." "She says her pain is a 10/10 but ..."

On any given shift in the emergency room, I hear some version of these said by residents or fellow attendings. And whenever I hear these phrases, I think to myself, "When did we stop treating pain?"

I'm not talking about chronic pain. I feel terribly for ...

Read more...

This nurse notified his hospital unit director testing availability for novel coronavirus on January 26, 2020.  This nurse asked his hospital unit director if signs could be posted discouraging visitation unless necessary on March 10, 2020. The response was, “People need to take care of themselves.” She said this standing next to the signs that restrict children under the age of 12 from coming into the hospital for RSV season.  This nurse ...

Read more...

Collectively across our country, as society shuts down, physicians, along with our brave co-workers in the hospital, will be going to work to combat the largest pandemic we have seen in our lifetimes. While such a crisis frightens us all, it has also served as a soul-renewing time for medicine. Over the next several months, our tribe worldwide will be risking their health and lives to serve and treat patients ...

Read more...

COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives for at least the foreseeable future. What hasn't changed in America is the complacency of our people. Living in our self proclaimed "greatest country in the world" comes with many benefits, one of which is feeling fairly removed from the daily strife of life, especially if you're in the middle class or ...

Read more...

I'm breaking up with you. I fell in love with you when I was just a child sitting in my grandfather’s family practice office. He put that magical white coat on me, sat me at his desk, welcomed in my first patient, and I was smitten. I grew up playing medical guessing games with him and his best friend, the town surgeon. They told stories of home visits, generations of families they ...

Read more...

I am angry.

I am going to be working to care for patients to the best of my ability. But will continue to be angry.

Angry at the lack of resources we seem to have access to.

Angry at the lack of testing supplies we have.

Angry at the social isolation that I and others will feel in these coming weeks.

Angry that ...

Read more...

He was a logical man. A northeast Ohio man. Who worked all his life and worked hard. I can see it in his hands. They are entirely calloused with traces of grease impervious even to pumice soap. A family man. His wife and sons and daughters are at bedside. And proud grandson, just a man, not dry-eyed, stands in the corner, in his college jacket, the spitting image of his bedridden ...

Read more...

February is a short month. Even this year with leap day. So short. Maybe that is why I am so mad at what Company X did to me. My health insurance company stole eight hours and six minutes from me in February. I will never get it back. This is my story of trying to get Company X to pay its part of two drugs I take for seizures. Very important drugs. ...

Read more...

The need for a refreshed perspective on life and practice, a renewed sense of the concerns of our patients, and an appreciation for the subject matter: This is what so many of us need while in residency training. There are rare moments in the midst of it all when a renewing of sorts takes place, is noticed, and makes a small difference. Let me share one of those moments with ...

Read more...

I was busy running around the ER on a particularly busy shift when my phone buzzed, and a text message from Jane's ex-boyfriend David popped up on the screen. I was surprised since I had not talked to him in over three years; therefore, I ignored it until I had a moment to myself an hour later and finally opened the message. The first line of his message got straight to ...

Read more...

As a child, when I first read The Little Prince and saw the picture of the boa constrictor swallowing an elephant, I would often ponder what it felt like to be the elephant. Later in seventh-grade science class, when I learned of amoebae and how they surround and digest neighboring life forms for their sustenance, the same wonder followed. Enlightenment to what it feels like to be subsumed came to ...

Read more...

About three months ago, something awful happened. The oncology nurse practitioner (NP) whom I trained for the past two years in my subspecialty decided to seek employment elsewhere in order to have a more flexible work schedule. My team and I lamented we had a going-away dinner to say thank you for her work. And for the next three months, I trudged through my days in a busy oncology clinic, seeing ...

Read more...

I feel like I’m in prison. Vacation was a small taste of freedom. A fresh breeze on my face at 9:00 a.m.—the feeling of my mom’s breakfast casserole in my stomach—the small things that remind me I’m still human. I don’t know what I stand for anymore. I just yelled at the intern for not feeling comfortable consenting our kidney transplant patient. “Aren’t you a physician?!” I asked. How did I get ...

Read more...

Physicians across all levels of training are familiar with the widely recognized truth that our medical system is broken. This damage is evidenced by a paradox; perhaps it will become the great paradox of our time – physicians who were driven to a profession by a desire to help others are now the same doctors who secretly hope they don’t have to help you. It is 9 p.m. on a fairly ...

Read more...

The first day I sought counseling, I felt like I was committing a crime. Our afternoon anatomy lecture had just ended, and the entirety of our first-year medical class—clad in hunter green scrubs and reciting the intrinsic muscles of the back—paraded in what looked like a single-file line to our cafeteria. "Act natural," I thought. "Don't let anyone find out what you're up to." My friends veered right to enter the cafeteria as ...

Read more...

In my very first job as a doctor — working in a London hospital in the 1980s. I always took a ridiculously detailed past medical history for every patient I saw. I started to notice how many elderly women had had septicemia, a life-threatening infection in which enormous amounts of bacteria enter the bloodstream. The neighborhood surrounding the hospital had once been the worst slum in London. And it didn't take ...

Read more...

Most Popular

✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers
✓ Get KevinMD's most popular stories