The use of health care information technology has increased exponentially over the last five years, and as a frontline physician, I have seen this change at close quarters. In most of the hospitals I’ve worked in up and down the East Coast, it’s been interesting to observe this transformation. The process has usually started with nurses and then moved on to encompass doctors. It’s overall a good thing, as I 
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I was recently working in clinic on a Friday afternoon. I was on my last patient of the day, and it had been a particularly long clinic. I had big plans for the weekend and should have already finished. The gentleman entered the room, sat down, and we began the consultation. Because I was so behind, I went through everything a little quicker than I usually would, but still covering ...

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The changes that have occurred in health care over the last few years represent a sea change from the autonomy and clout that physicians once had. It’s no great secret to anybody working in medicine that most of these changes to practice -- including the push towards employment instead of private practice, and the need to now spend the majority of the day clicking boxes on a computer screen -- have ...

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Our job as health care professionals is not just to diagnose our patients by applying our scientific knowledge and clinical skills, but also to be the “communicator-in-chief,” “listener-in-chief,” and “reassurer-in-chief.” Any doctor who doesn’t fully grasp this, is not doing the best job they can or being the best doctor they can be. I truly believe that over 90 percent of our everyday job as a physician involves being a good ...

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Health care is a tough job to work in -- whether you are a doctor, nurse or any other professional. We are dealing with matters of life and death, our patients expect (and deserve) the best from us, and we always have a hundred-and-one things to do at the frontlines of medicine. I remember reading somewhere when I was a teenager that a career in medicine would be a “mentally, ...

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Talk about physician burnout and job dissatisfaction is everywhere right now. If you are a doctor, you cannot escape the news. Within the last couple of weeks, organizations in Massachusetts (a mecca of healthcare and hospitals) declared physician burnout a “major public health crisis.” This all sounds rather dramatic. On the surface, physicians are reasonably well paid, still enjoy a good degree of autonomy (certainly compared with many other ...

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No matter what profession you are in, having uncomfortable and difficult conversations is something you have to get used to. Tim Ferris said in his bestselling book, The 4-Hour Workweek (which I’d highly recommend), “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” It could be with another colleague, a client or customer. Even in your personal ...

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A piece of advice I would give to any younger physician, especially one who is just graduating residency, would be to expect a whirlwind ride into the realities of frontline medical practice. It’s something that you are totally not prepared for in the controlled environment of education and residency training. A steep learning curve awaits you once you start practicing medicine. And one of the biggest things you will have ...

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I recently wrote an article giving 3 reasons why any patient may not have liked their doctor. They included the physician being visibly in a hurry, appearing to brush off concerns, or giving a general sense of not caring. While no doctor deliberately sets out to do any of these things, complaints like these are all too common, unfortunately. The degree to which the practice of good medicine is ...

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One of the biggest changes to health care over the last 20 years has been the corporatization of medicine, from small independent physician practices, to large corporations that now run the show. Medicine has gone from good old Dr. Johnson’s office around the corner, to a world of boardrooms, megamergers and takeovers. This has enormous downstream effects -- not least to the way physicians practice medicine and their ...

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One of the things I am most grateful for, as a doctor who has worked in at least a dozen different hospitals over the last decade, is the broad range of experiences I’ve had and the variety of physicians I’ve met and gotten to know. I enjoy hearing experienced physicians’ perspectives on how the practice of medicine has changed from what it used to be in the 1970s to 1990s. I ...

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Hospitals are busy, hectic, and unpredictable places. Professionals who work in health care are highly trained and competent individuals, and if you are receiving acute care in America -- the standard of your treatment and access to high-quality tests and an array of specialists, is unparalleled (take it from someone who has worked in different countries). Nevertheless, the hospital experience itself, despite our best efforts, often falls short. Here are ...

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Almost a couple of years ago, I decided that I would act out on a desire that I’d had for some time: to learn to swing dance (specifically, Lindy Hop). Going back to when I was in high school in England, I’ve always had an interest in 1920s America, that started during our history classes. I find it a fascinating time of enormous progress (and for so many a big roaring ...

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Practicing medicine at the frontlines is hard. It’s damn hard. Every minute you need to be alert, ready to respond to a potential life or death situation, and be called to another important problem. The current medical practice environment -- with excessive bureaucracy, suboptimal information technology, and extreme time pressure with patients -- adds exponentially to the mix, and can make for a very stressful job. Make no mistake, even ...

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Anybody who has even a passing interest in health and wellness knows the sobering fact that a large number of medical problems that plague society today are the result of unhealthy living habits. Conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, which are reaching epidemic proportions, are directly linked to poor eating and inactivity. Official statistics show that around 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. We live ...

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Eye contact is one of the most basic mammalian traits that signals an interaction. Anybody who has a dog or cat at home sees on a daily basis how much animals value eye contact (and with dogs, it signals you’ve lost the battle!). In the case of health care, during frequent emotional exchanges between two human beings, it naturally follows then that simple eye contact has to be at the ...

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I recently met an old friend of mine for the evening in New York City. He’s a talented young orthopedic surgeon, who has already, in the short amount of time since finishing residency, experienced so many of the problems our health care system faces. The topic of conversation quickly turned to the current state of medical practice, the dramatic swing to corporate medicine, and the consequential loss of autonomy suffered by ...

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It’s no secret that physician job dissatisfaction is soaring to unprecedented levels, with over 50 percent of practicing physicians reporting burnout. While many factors have contributed to this epidemic in America over the last 20 years -- not least of all electronic medical records that are taking a heavy (and unacceptable) toll on physicians’ time -- this is not a phenomenon unique to the United States. I went to ...

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I was having dinner with somebody not so long ago, and the conversation turned to what life is like as a physician. I always find it interesting to have these conversations with people who are not in the medical field, especially those who have got their ideas from watching medical shows on television! The person I was speaking to on this occasion, however, wasn’t about to go down that route, ...

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I’ve always believed in looking the part as a physician. So much so that I even write about it! You may have read my piece that became widely circulated online, about why physicians should always dress to impress. The article generated quite a response, and I received a lot of interesting comments and emails. Of course, not all physicians are in a specialty where they can do ...

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