In this podcast, I share insights from a doc who barely survived his suicide attempt plus simple ways to prevent the next suicide. Listen in. You may save a life. Dear Pamela, I’ve never been so happy to fail at something in my life. Four weeks ago today I died. Cardiopulmonary arrest in jail. Why was I in jail? My wife alerted ...

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This week, a resident asked, “What do you say to suicidal physicians?” 1. I don’t say anything. I listen without judgment. Our culture doesn’t support physicians asking for help — or revealing their suffering. As a result, physicians fear sharing suicidal thoughts with friends and family because we’re the ones that others rely on for help. Physicians fear speaking to their program directors or employers because of professional retaliation and loss ...

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I asked a group of docs I’m coaching how much they’re worth per hour. Interesting question given docs have 11 or more years of specialized training beyond high school. Surgeons spend most of their 20s and 30s in school. By the time these folks graduate, they’ve got 200K+ med school debt — before the kids, spouse or house. Many docs just don’t have time to develop a social life, fall ...

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I grew up studying my physician parents. My dad, a pathologist, was a hard-working hospital employee with multiple odd jobs on the side. He always worried about whether he’d have enough for retirement, though he never really wanted to retire. My mom, a psychiatrist, is more of an entrepreneurial businesswoman. She had her own private practice (even though all the other employed doctors warned she’d never make it ...

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shamingwordsimage In medicine, our motto is first do no harm. Words matter. Choose them wisely. Here are 7 words that shame, blame, and injure people who need our help. 1. Don’t say COMMITTED suicide. Committed implies a crime. Committed rape, burglary, murder. Suicide is not a crime; it’s a medical condition that has been taboo for too long. Let’s come out of the dark ...

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We go to the doctor when we are sick. But what happens when doctors get sick? Who cares for them? All too often, physicians are threatened, harassed, even terminated for being ill. After reporting on a psychiatrist fired for having cancer and a pediatrician bullied for her brain tumor, I’ve heard from many more physicians who are now courageously stepping forward to tell the truth — in their ...

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Man collapses at 30,000 feet. Quick, who’s in charge? Hint: It’s not the doctor. Last month, Dr. Tamika Cross was told to sit down when she tried to help an unresponsive man. Why? Apparently, the flight attendant was looking for an “actual” medical doctor, not a black woman. Turns out she’s not the only doc making headlines for being turned down in ...

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seanpetrosuicide-900x600 Cheryl lost her son Sean to suicide in medical school. Just a few months ago. Her only child. Cheryl didn’t know that medical students were at high risk of suicide -- until her son was dead. Nobody warned her. Rhonda lost her daughter Kaitlyn to suicide in medical school. Unable to recuperate from the pain of her daughter’s suicide, Rhonda died by suicide ...

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It’s true. Man nearly dies on plane because crew didn’t believe black woman was doctor. The medical fiasco on Delta Airlines has now gone viral after a Facebook post by Tamika Cross, MD, the physician who was turned away as a fellow passenger was unresponsive. Tamika joins a long list of female physicians who have experienced the same discrimination. Meet a few of these doctors below.
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I recently learned of yet another medical student suicide. Ari Frosch, a second-year student at Penn, died by suicide by walking onto the northbound tracks as a Boston-bound Amtrak train passed through Mansfield station. Amtrak trains do not stop at Mansfield station. Police have surveillance tape of the victim trespassing and walking right onto the tracks. There’s no mystery surrounding this medical student’s Read more...

an-ingrown-toenail-is-not-a-lung-transplant Illustration by Jorge Muniz, PA-C. Here’s a quick review of health care delivery basics: Primary care. Stuff you can get handled with your primary care doctor in your neighborhood. Example: ingrown toenail. Secondary care. Stuff your primary care doctor refers to a secondary specialist down the road. Example: colonoscopy. Tertiary care. Complex stuff you need to deal with at a big-city hospital. Example: lung transplant. Simple. Right? Here’s the problem: ...

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Dear Pamela, Let me start off by telling you that I am a warrior, a protector, and a healer. I am an Army veteran. I’ve worked as an EMT, completed a bachelor's degree and two years of medical school, plus I’m raising a family. I’ve achieved amazing things, but I have never been defeated like I’ve been over these past few years. Honestly, I was less stressed in Afghanistan. Medical school is ...

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burnout2 Illustration by Jorge Muniz, PA-C. We enter medicine with our hearts and souls on fire ready to serve humanity. By the time we complete medical training many of us have anxiety, PTSD, depression -- even suicidal thoughts. Why? Medicine is stressful. Many of us work 100-hour weeks surrounded by suffering and death. We may deliver a stillborn, try to save a teenager with a ...

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PamelaWiblePostcard283-copy Dear Dr. Wible, Thank you for the work that you do. I have been following your push for humane medical education for several months now. I finally decided to contact you after reading your article about how “burnout” is actually abuse. I am a med student entering my third year. I have been consistently hearing horror stories from other students about the ...

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Svetlana Meet Dr. Svetlana Kleyman, a powerhouse chief surgery resident with a heart of gold, who works 16-hour days and runs marathons in her free time. Just 18 months before she was to graduate from SUNY Downstate, she developed a spinal infection that left her paralyzed from the waist down. After months of rehab, she was cleared by her doctors to resume work ...

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DearPamela-900x607 Hi Pamela, I’m a medical student in the UK. Though I’ve only been in med school since September, it has already taken its toll on me. Before I started, I was so in touch with my emotions, spirituality, and nature. Now I feel so empty and desensitized. I hate that when faced with the horrible circumstances of another person, I just don’t feel ...

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Pamela Wible, M.D., takes on physician suicide in her TEDMED talk (delivered on November 18, 2015). Learn more about Dr. Wible and her talk at TEDMED.com. Full transcription below: I love the three things that people fear the most: death, disease, and public speaking. Here’s how it all started. At four, I was so talkative (and bossy) no babysitter would stay with me. So I tagged along with Mom, ...

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Pamela-Wible-Big-Box-Medicine2 Step 1: Greet patient. Step 2: While chatting, check all boxes in electronic medical record for a complete review of systems and physical exam. Copy and paste parts of previous chart note while looking at patient every once in a while. Smile if possible. Step 3: Tell patient to do yoga. Step 4: Bill insurance company for complete physical exam. Welcome to big box assembly line medicine. Ever wonder what ...

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DearPamela

Dear Pamela, Question for you in regards to disclosure about mental illness. In every job that I have applied for, as part of the credentialing process, there are questions about felonies, treatment for drug/alcohol abuse and mental illness. Why are mental health questions still allowed to be on there? I have had postpartum anxiety/depression three times now, and I feel like it is ...

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An excerpt from Physician Suicide Letters -- Answered. When is a taboo topic no longer taboo? When is it OK to stop hiding behind euphemisms? When is it safe to tell the truth? The answer is now. This week I uploaded 53 chapters of physician suicide letters in a
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