Gratitude may be more beneficial than we commonly suppose. One recent study asked subjects to write a note of thanks to someone and then estimate how surprised and happy the recipient would feel – an impact that they consistently underestimated. Another study assessed the health benefits of writing thank you notes. The researchers found that writing as few as three weekly thank you notes ...

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You can tell a lot about a job and the people doing it by asking them to describe their best day at work. For Ali, a 28-year-old pediatric cancer social worker, that day occurred one year ago. A 17-year-old cancer patient who had been given two months to live made a bucket list. On her list were graduating from high school and getting accepted into college. So Ali and her ...

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The news was bad. Mimi, a woman in her early 80s, had been undergoing treatment for lymphoma. Her husband was being treated for bladder cancer. Recently, she developed chest pain, and a biopsy showed that she had developed a secondary tumor of the pleura, the space around one of her lungs. Her oncology team’s mission was to share this bad news. Mimi’s case was far from unique. Each year in the ...

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Many Americans have never visited a predominantly Muslim country and may know relatively little about the faith of Islam. This is relevant in light of the Trump administration’s recent executive order attempting to reduce terrorist threats to the U.S. by halting the issuance of visas to travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Having returned this month from Sudan, one of the countries affected by the ban, I wish to ...

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A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that 27 percent of medical students around the world exhibit symptoms of depression and 11 percent have thought of taking their own lives. Equally troubling is the fact that, among students experiencing depressive symptoms, only 16 percent seek psychiatric treatment. Other studies have suggested that the prevalence of depression in medical students may be as ...

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A decade ago, electronic health records were aggressively promoted for a number of reasons.  Proponents claimed that they would facilitate the sharing of health information, reduce error rates in health care, increase health care efficiency, and lower costs. Enthusiasts included the technology companies, consultants, and IT specialists who stood to reap substantial financial rewards from a system-wide switch to electronic records. Even some health professionals shared in the enthusiasm.  Compared to the ...

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Many hospitals around the nation have been stung by dreadful physician engagement scores. Engagement is a problem not only for demoralized physicians, but for health care organizations, their employees, and everyone they serve. They should take note, because low levels of engagement are associated with higher physician turnover, increased error rates, poorer rates of patient cooperation in treatment, and lower levels of patient satisfaction. Definitions of engagement vary, but it generally ...

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shutterstock_261978071 Dr. Melos is a gastroenterologist in solo practice in a medium-sized Midwestern city.  One day she hears a knock on her door. When she answers, she finds two representatives of Athenian Health System, who request a few minutes of her time.  She invites them to take a seat in her office. After exchanging pleasantries, the visitors get down to business. They extend Dr. Melos an ...

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shutterstock_125996114 As kids growing up in the Midwestern United States, my friends and I loved baseball.  We spent many hours each summer day playing the game, and when we weren’t out on the sandlot, we were reciting the stats of top players, arguing the merits of our favorite teams, and trading baseball cards.  Baseball is more than America’s pastime.  It is a sport ...

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shutterstock_169107956 I can’t mention the physician by name, because he is currently in contract negotiations.  But he lives and works in a Midwestern town of several thousand people, a town where the major social event of the year is a fall festival that features a parade down Main Street.  The physician, let’s call him Dr. Smith, has been practicing there for nearly ...

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