Imagine being a cancer patient afraid of seeing an oncologist because they would likely need to discuss chemotherapy and all the lifestyle changes that it entails. Imagine being a patient with heart failure afraid of seeing the cardiologist because they may be prescribed a diuretic to remove excess fluid from their body and may need dietary counseling. Imagine being a patient with severe rheumatoid arthritis with excruciating joint pain, who ...

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Recently, I saw a photo of a slide from the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress: “The Program Directors Guide to Implementation of Well-being Programs.” While I applaud the ongoing focus in medicine on wellness for both trainees and faculty, I am troubled by the perceived need to standardize and program wellness, creating a “checkbox” that may not improve actual well-being. As a recent graduate now living my best life ...

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I’m struggling — truly struggling. This year has been beyond hard. I honestly never thought this time last year that I would be in this predicament. Things were good, I had a great job, and I was working on our fixing up our dream retirement home. We had great vacations every year. Yes, the home remodel wasn’t quite on track, but we were making progress. But then, my world fell ...

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Doctors know high-pressure exams. The day before one is the worst. There is cramming followed by anxiety and insomnia. When sleep finally beats anxiety, the dreaded nightmare falls upon anxious test takers. Every doctor knows. Walking into the testing center, opening the exam, realizing you studied for the wrong exam. The questions might as well be a foreign language. This nightmare was a reality according to this year’s group of ...

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In the era of #MeToo, Missy Elliot, Whitney Houston, Tyler Perry, Oprah, Ashley Judd, Gabrielle Union, Teri Hatcher and, now, Padma Lakshmi — keeping kids safe and helping adults heal is our job as physicians. I am a pediatrician — and I am an incest survivor. My perpetrator was also a physician. I bore a dirty secret before I knew what a secret was. The person who hurt me was ...

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I do not feel that I truly survived my lawsuit. Sure, I am alive, but the emotional toll it took on me during the four years that we co-existed was tremendous. That being said, I do feel that it taught me several things that may be helpful to others. My lawsuit occurred very early in my career. The series of events that led up to it happened when I was a ...

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It was 4:30 a.m. on a freezing cold winter morning when I dragged myself to my car and started down the street to the hospital. I was working in the ICU for the month, and sleep had become a commodity I no longer enjoyed. I tried to shake my brain out of the dense fog it seemed to always be in lately. I looked up in time to see my car ...

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This must be my eighth cancer scare. (No, I really don’t undergo excessive testing.) Decades ago, I’d noted a possibly normal finding but dropped it after getting no response at subspecialist visits. Recently, following pertinent CME, I asked again and the physician bit. You can guess the rest. One night while dodging traffic I accessed on my phone the ultrasound report from the designated cancer center’s (DCC) patient portal, revealing a ...

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I’m probably in the minority on this, but I’m not a fan of the NYU School of Medicine free tuition program. Now I’m all for debt relief for medical students who start their careers with a mortgage. I was one of them. After 13 years, I’m still one of them! I’m also for any initiative that drives more medical students to career paths like primary care, where massive debt makes ...

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It was 5:27 p.m. on a Friday evening when the pager went off. “Ahh,” said the intern, “Three minutes before shift change, and the ER is paging for another admission!” I could see the dismay on his face as he dreaded the thought of staying late on yet another Friday night. I decided to take care of this patient myself and relieved the intern of his duties. As I went downstairs ...

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Physicians all around us are dying from suicide. For me, some deceased colleagues I knew more closely, others were faces that you would pass on the wards. Even two physicians that I knew peripherally died just this past week. The issue of physician suicide is in the news now, and facts are available. At least a whole medical school class worth of physicians dies by suicide each year. The suicide rate ...

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Several years ago, a colleague of mine did a procedure on my daughter. What was supposed to be routine has become a nightmare for her.  When he saw her post-op, he told her she was fine.  Because of this obfuscation, years went by before she really understood how damaged she was. By then, the statute of limitations had lapsed and she had no recourse. Still seeking closure on this disaster, my daughter ...

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Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Two celebrity icons splashed the headlines recently as both figures committed the unthinkable act of suicide. Both left behind young daughters and significant others reeling in the background wondering what had just happened. Kate Spade was the colorful fashionista of purses and dresses. Anthony Bourdain was the connoisseur of delectable eats traveling the world. How could such successful personas mask the pain hidden within? Even Robin ...

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There are 168 hours in a week and 8,736 hours in a year. There are 10,080 minutes in a week, and 524,160 minutes in a year. Residents and fellows working in an academic environment often work close to, if not in large part, more than 80 hours a week, or 4,160 hours a year. They work 4,800 minutes a week, and a staggering 249,600 minutes a year. In medicine, it’s ...

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Altruism is killing us. Take a second to let that sink in. Truly think about it. Resist your conditioning to refute this claim and try to apply it to your life. Still having trouble? Let me try to explain. In order to understand the truly destructive force of altruism on medicine, one must first define altruism. This can be difficult to do in the United States as any “good” or “charitable” ...

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Recently, I entered an essay contest on advice you would give to future medical students. I sincerely believe that the best person to write an article offering advice to younger medical students should come from a person who didn’t match. Also known as me. Why, you say? Well, for everyone else, Match Day is a culmination of four years of mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing work. They might even forget ...

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As a medical student, every eight weeks I rotate through a new specialty in a new hospital or health service. This means every eight weeks, I flick over to a new chapter in my textbook, learn a new set of medical lingo, meet a new team of doctors and a new cohort of patients. As a person of color, however, this translates to something far more challenging yet predictable. It ...

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I’m writing this piece because I’m finally at the point that I am truly angry. I am angry at how physicians have become devalued in modern health care. I’m angry at how systems of care have participated in this by replacing physicians with lesser trained mid-level practitioners. I’m angry at how our title “doctor” has been hijacked to allow patients to be misled or, in many cases, deceived. It wasn’t that ...

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I log onto KevinMD every day to get my much-needed dose of physician commiseration. At least once a day, one of us writes an article about burnout. It typically leaves me feeling quite validated. I particularly enjoy reading the comments section, as many of you make me laugh with your physician reality-based humor. I am more burned out than I ever hoped to be. I work in primary care, have a ...

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The hardest thing about medical school isn’t learning medicine. It isn’t the hours. It isn’t the tests. It’s that you sign away control over years of your adult life. When I started my clerkship year in January, I felt like I was stepping onto a conveyor belt and would not be allowed off for twelve long months. For the entirety of 2018, my days are planned for me, my hours are ...

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