I spent the summer between the first and second years of medical school in the emergency department at Cincinnati’s major trauma hospital. More specifically, I spent summer nights there, studying the effects of interpersonal violence. Cincinnati is both a friendly city and a violent city. People say “Hello” when you pass in a corridor. At first, coming from Boston, this mid-West style of friendliness took me aback. At the same ...

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Unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, overeating, or lack of exercise lead to chronic health conditions, and many patients wanting to make positive changes to their health may seek the advice of their doctor to do so. But our insurance payment system works against supporting people when they want to act in a healthy way, and some of these payment decisions seem rooted in prejudices against those suffering from certain conditions. Smoking ...

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I have been working in pediatric primary care for nearly 5 years post-residency and truly love my work. I currently am dealing with very painful post-herpetic neuralgia and many people with this quit working. At some personal cost, I have continued my practice because I find my work day so rewarding I simply can’t imagine not being a practicing pediatrician. On a given day I might see a newborn fresh from ...

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Six months ago, I had severe right flank pain. In the ER, I had an ultrasound showing a possible kidney stone. I deferred a CT scan and went home with medication. I fit the textbook picture: I had abnormal imaging, and I was given a treatment and discharged. I was advised to return if the pain worsened or failed to resolve. I briefly improved, but then the pain returned much ...

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“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” That’s how Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, describes mindfulness. In the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, another thought leader in mindfulness, Shunryu Suzuki, says that, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” In my experience, I’ve found that cultivating a beginner’s mind opens doors and improves clinical diagnosis. Medical training has ...

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