The theme of the conference is the medical humanities. After Lawrence Hill's keynote speech, the lineup of people waiting to speak with him is long. At the end of the day, I'm inspired by the lectures I attended, but disappointed that I didn't get the chance to speak with Dr. Hill. I should have just stood in line. While waiting on my Uber outside in Hamilton, Ontario, Dr. Hill emerges from the ...

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At the age of three months, Charlotte Figi had her first seizure. She was later diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. Her seizures continued, increasing in both frequency and severity. In a CNN interview, Charlotte’s mother Paige said that at the age of three, Charlotte was having up to 300 seizures per week. They could last for up to four hours. After all other medical treatments had failed, ...

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In journalism, the lede is the first part of a news story. A good lede will entice the reader to read more. It contains the key points and gives the general idea of the article. Ledes are also crucial in the field of medicine. As a graduate student in journalism and a general practitioner, I can appreciate the value of ledes in both fields. When health care professionals communicate with each ...

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Several weeks ago, I began my studies for a master’s degree in journalism. I’m continuing to work as a physician, but for the next two years, I’ll also be gaining knowledge in an important field: health communication. I recall being a medical student and observing the different ways in which my supervising doctors spoke with their patients. Some doctors communicated clearly and were easily understood. Others used words that I had ...

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When a patient goes to the doctor, they usually have a specific health problem in mind. Sometimes, the treatment is straightforward; a urinary tract infection warrants antibiotics. A laceration can be sutured. Other issues, however, are more complex. For example, communicating a terminal diagnosis to a patient. Consoling his grieving widow two months later. In circumstances like these, even if there is no cure, there is still space for healing. Central ...

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The last few passengers filter in and buckle themselves up before takeoff. The emergency exit row is occupied by an elderly couple, and I am seated behind them. The flight attendant asks whether they are comfortable in those seats, given that they’d have to respond in the case of an emergency. “Not that I expect anything bad to happen,” the flight attendant adds with a smile. I, too, am familiar with discussing ...

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This year, I stood on the curb at the 2017 Halifax Pride Parade and watched high-energy floats pass by. Leading the parade was the indigenous float. The vibrant trans youth float warmed my heart. The prime minister waved and called out “Happy Pride!” to the spectators. It was a stream of enthusiastic faces, song, dance, and brightly colored banners. I love pride. It’s is a special time for a lot of ...

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On our first night in Dublin, my mother and I head straight to a pub. We sit at a table across the room from a cheerful woman who looks to be in her eighties. It doesn’t take her long to walk across the room and join us. She grasps her pint of beer and takes a long gulp. We learn that her name is Mary and she welcomes us with ...

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“Dr. Fraser, the pharmacy is on the phone for you. Line one.” I answer the call, pressing the gray, rectangular button with one hand while writing in a patient’s chart with the other. “Sarah Fraser speaking.” “Oh, hi, Doctor, we just got in a prescription of yours, but we are not quite sure what it says.” The pharmacist is gentle in her words. It was the first time this had happened. I’d promised myself ...

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Be honest. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the words "plastic surgery?" Breast implants? Nose jobs? Or maybe you’ll think about one of the numerous television programs out there that have featured the discipline: "Nip/Tuck?" "Botched?" "Grey’s Anatomy?" If so, you aren’t alone. Plastic surgery as a discipline is poorly understood by many, including primary care physicians, nurses, medical students and the public. Plastic surgeons perform many ...

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"Do no harm." This is a key phrase in the Hippocratic Oath; one that I announced with conviction at my medical school graduation. I swear to do no harm. What would Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, think about the concept of harm reduction? Canada has a drug problem. We are one of the world’s largest per-capita opioid consumers. The country is facing what has become known in the media as the ...

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Doctors and nurses like facts. After all, we're evidence-based thinkers — rational scientists. Yet, we can be surprisingly superstitious. Many of us believe in a thing called "call karma," which is when certain doctors attract sick patients while working on call (these people are said to have bad call karma). Other doctors attract less sick patients, meaning they have good call karma. As a medical student, I quickly learned that I fell ...

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