For many physicians, the term “compassion fatigue” may imply, as the words describe, that fatigue leads to the loss of ability to feel compassion for others. After all, what physician doesn’t have a day when s/he is too tired, running on too little reserve, and feeling some degree of emotional numbness? Many physicians may not realize, however, that compassion fatigue can go much deeper.  According to the Compassion ...

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The day after I told Nell she had seven metastases to her brain, she sent me flowers. She was my patient; I was her oncologist. I had met her one year prior, when she was well into her cancer journey, stage IV breast cancer at diagnosis. I took over from her current oncologist, who was moving. At our first visit together, she grilled me without mercy. Her questions were insightful, and ...

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The return from a vacation weighed on me physically.  This had been a true vacation -- an entire week away from clinic and spent with my family.  I even managed to unplug to the point of only checking email on my phone twice per day -- really! The tension that years ago took up permanent residence in my shoulders had faded away without my noticing, so that when I awoke to ...

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There is a shortage of rural physicians in the U.S.  My specialty, medical oncology, is but one of many specialties where the shortage is especially glaring. In oncology, I think there is perhaps a fear of practicing outside the walls of a large tertiary center and leaving behind the established framework and boundaries between the doctor and patient. I know it was a fear of ...

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