I'm now walking the second mile in another man's moccasins, and it's no more enjoyable than my first mile. Many doctors cringe when they see a chronic pain patient on their day's schedule or at least certain chronic pain patients. Some of that dread isn't directly caused by the patient but rather the deluge of third-party administrative demands: workman's compensation updates, disability applications, insurance forms, lawyers' letters, etc. Still, even when the ...

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An excerpt from The Flame Broiled Doctor: From Boyhood to Burnout in Medicine. "So what did my bloodwork show, Doctor?" asked Liz. Liz was friendly and polite, but a textbook example of the Worried Well … healthy but neurotic patients I didn't need to see as often as ...

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Since the study of science is the most common route taken to a career in medicine, there’s a tendency among doctors to neglect, if not outright scoff at the arts and humanities. That’s a shame, and not only because an appreciation of history or philosophy might make you a better doctor. I’m in complete agreement with that notion, but as an opinion, it can’t be definitively proven. Instead, I think it’s ...

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In a previous piece, I described the killer B's of burnout in medicine, namely, bleakness, boredom, and bureaucracy. Both times I went through burnout, the cycle started with boredom. I found medicine so full of the mundane most days, after about five years in practice, I grew restless. There's only so much time after your office is done, the kitchen is clean, and the kids are in ...

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Is it possible to break down a complex phenomenon like professional burnout into a simple triad? We do it for exotic diseases all the time, so why not? I still remember my salad days in med school vividly. Bouncing between the cockiness of amassing an entirely new body of knowledge and the awkwardness of having nary a clue how to use it, it was excitement I hadn't felt before or since. ...

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I'm new to the job of coroner. Though I'm sure it won't surprise anyone to hear that it's nothing like C.S.I.; you measure the wait for test results in months, not minutes. It's not like Quincy, M.E. either, where the same person responsible for the autopsy hops about cracking a case that somehow befuddles police. Most deaths are natural, with a good number of accidents and suicides, despite the media's ...

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To close out my first week of medical school, the class was treated to a talk by a stuffy but soft-spoken lecturer on the relationship between poverty, education, and poor population health. "Social determinants of health," he labeled them, a clunky and unwieldy term if ever I'd heard one. In those days, audiovisual aids consisted of an overhead projector for black-and-white transparencies. And boy did that talk have transparencies. Chart ...

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