You may be familiar with the words stoicism and have an idea about what it means to be stoic (there’s actually a lot of confusion and misconceptions out there about exactly what they mean). Let’s take a step back for a moment before we dive in any further. Stoicism is an ancient Greco-Roman philosophy founded by a gentleman called Zeno around 400 BC in Athens after he had suffered a ...

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The era of the empowered patient and patient-centered health care has been upon us for some time. Only a generation ago, there was a much more paternalistic approach to medicine. This has changed for the better across the western world. As somebody who teaches and coaches physicians on how to improve their communication skills, I would say that the newer generation of doctors is much more receptive than many of ...

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As a physician working in acute care medicine, one of the biggest delights of my job is regularly still having patients from the Greatest Generation. In the United Kingdom, I really enjoyed sitting with them and hearing their stories of mandatory city evacuations during World War 2, rationing, the Blitz, and the huge struggle to rebuild a devastated country after 1945. Visiting my grandparents in India when I was a ...

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One of the most annoying things for any professional, is to be face-to-face with the person you are serving—whether it be your customer, client, or patient—in the limited time available to you, and feel that your attention is being diverted from the main problem at hand. It happens to all of us; we are all human. For a physician, it may come in the form of having a patient start ...

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As many readers of my work know, I have a huge passion for preventive medicine, and balance my acute care hospital work with an outpatient wellness clinic. I have always been into exercise and outdoor activities since a young age but only became a regular gym-goer after I finished my medical residency training. I also became very keen on learning more about healthier nutrition habits. I don’t think I was ...

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I was 16 years old and being given a car ride to a cricket match by one of my teammates. He was our opening batsman and a good cricket player—I’m guessing around 40 to 50 years old. He started asking about how my education was going. I told him that I was about to sit my GCSE exams and was probably going to do sciences for my A-Levels (those are ...

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Oh, how we all learn and change with our experiences. It’s one of the greatest things in life that most of us (hopefully) are not the same person now that we were a few years ago. Looking back to when I first become a physician at the age of 22 (yes, that’s the typical age that most medical students across the world become doctors, because medical school comes straight after ...

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It’s something we are taught from when we are very young and is a core middle class belief: work hard, get a qualification, and then you’ll be able to find a good employer who will send you a nice paycheck every month. On some levels, this seems like an attractive option. Yet on so many others, it falls apart. For physicians in the United States, the concept of “employment” is relatively ...

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One aspect of medicine that anyone who reads my work knows I’m most passionate about is keeping excellent communication at the core of health care. It’s a vastly under-taught skill, and although medical schools are certainly getting a lot better at teaching the fundamentals than they were a few years ago, there’s still nowhere enough reinforcement throughout one's medical career. It’s therefore easy for all of us to slip into ...

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Infectious diseases have been a scourge of mankind since time immemorial. I am a keen reader of history, and anyone who does so, knows that infections have not only caused billions of deaths and untold suffering—but have also brought down kings, armies, empires, and entire civilizations. Previous pandemics have literally changed the course of human history. The one we now face in 2020s America thankfully falls at a time of ...

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I spent the last week working in a large community hospital in a state with a soaring number of coronavirus cases. I previously had a few days off while this whole situation was escalating, and heard from colleagues that our hospital was taking huge measures to prepare for the onslaught. New protocols were being put in place, there was a scramble for personal protective equipment (PPE), and the hospital had ...

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The best teacher of medicine I ever had was during my medical residency. He was a tough, old-school physician, trained at one of the premier institutions in the country, and specialized in pulmonology and intensive care. Before I had even rotated through the ICU, I had seen him around on the medical floors—and must admit I didn’t like him very much at first. He seemed extremely serious, not particularly friendly to any ...

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I recently started watching the HBO series Chernobyl, chronicling the events surrounding the 1986 disaster. For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet—I’d highly recommend this excellent production (It’s already deservedly won multiple awards). The great thing about TV like this, which documents real-life events (and I’d put another HBO series John Adams in the same category), is that they can really bring complex consequential events to the mass audience, in ...

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I have gotten to the stage where I take a more philosophical approach to the issue of physician burnout and job dissatisfaction. I see it all around me, and it’s impossible to miss some of the sobering statistics just browsing online any medical publication or social media feed. There’s definitely a very real issue that’s been compounded by changes to health care delivery and the nature of the job itself (i.e., ...

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I just watched the movie 1917 at the theatre. Shot in a unique way giving an immersive experience, showing the frontline reality of war through an unforgettable human story, it has to be one of the greatest war movies ever made. I’d encourage everyone to go watch it. I learned a fair bit about the First World while I was in high school in the United Kingdom. Its stories are ...

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Stress is one of the epidemics of modern-day living—especially work-related stress. At a basic fundamental level, it’s just simply a chemical reaction. Your adrenaline and cortisol levels shoot up in response to a stressful stimulus, the primitive “fight-or-flight” response kicks in, and your brain and emotions go into overdrive. The problem with this acute response, is that it tends to lead to illogical thinking and an inability to really find solutions. Research also confirms that having chronically elevated stress hormones is very detrimental for your long-term health and ...

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It’s no secret that America (and indeed a lot of the western world) faces an unhealthy lifestyle crisis. Shocking statistics suggest that over 70 percent of the United States population is overweight or obese (defined as a BMI over 25). The consequential health effects are well known, and don’t need further explaining. As a country and health care community, we simply cannot allow ourselves to get to a place where ...

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There’s so much negativity out there when it comes to health care, it must be a concern to any young person thinking about entering the field. I certainly spend a lot of time writing about all the challenges we face, and have to hold my hands up to (occasionally) spreading some of that negativity as well! Guilty as charged. That’s why it’s important for anyone outside of health care (or ...

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Since I last published a blog post dedicated entirely to the above graph a couple of years ago, very little has changed. In fact, I’m sure the divergence of the curves has only grown bigger, as more and more administrators are added to the ranks of health care. Quite often in life, the answers to some of the biggest questions we have, are staring us right in ...

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It’s difficult to imagine a world now without Google and the internet. It’s also strange to think that most people alive right now received the bulk of their education in the pre-internet era. I remember in the United Kingdom, where I went to medical school, Google only became a thing perhaps midway through university. Since then, of course, the internet has exploded and penetrated every facet of our lives. And ...

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