Physicians everywhere are having to deal with ever-shrinking time slots with their patients. Every doctor (or nurse) would love to have more time if possible, and it’s probably one the biggest frontline frustrations for any clinician who wants to do a good job. Time to go over the history in more detail, examine the patient thoroughly, and then spend adequate time discussing everything afterwards. Wouldn’t that be nice? The reality though ...

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When I’m working in a hospital setting as a physician, part of my everyday job duties involves going over consent forms with patients. I am of course a medical physician, rather than a surgeon, so generally don’t have to go over them as often. But I do have to take consent regularly for certain interventions including blood transfusions and minor procedures. The process of getting consent is something everybody is ...

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In June, a story circulated online about how Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, one of the most famous academic medical centers in the United States, and a major Harvard Medical School-affiliated institution, decided that it would take down physician portraits that were hanging in a popular and historic lecture theater. The reason? Well, it was felt that the portraits were predominantly of white male physicians, who had been esteemed teachers ...

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A natural part of life is emotionally growing (hopefully) with experience. If I was to look back at my own journey, when I was in medical school and just graduating, I would say that without doubt, one of the biggest things I would tell my younger self, would be to not take things too personally. This would be particularly true in professional situations. I look back at how personally I used to ...

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Following one of my recent articles on how physicians can improve their communication skills and ultimately help attain better patient outcomes, I received an interesting comment from a physician. It went something like this: “Sorry, but I’m not an actor.” This response typifies a small (but not insignificant) subset of responses I get when I’m discussing and promoting techniques that any doctor can utilize to better their skills in this area ...

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Fake news is a term that’s become notorious over the last couple of years. For notorious reasons perhaps. But there’s actually another serious arena where there is inadvertently an awful lot of “fake news” on a daily basis. And that is, well you guessed it: in health care throughout our nation’s hospitals and offices! Let me explain, and I suspect anyone who works in health care will be familiar with the scenario. ...

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As physicians, we are used to asking our patients lots and lots of questions. It’s our job to elicit information, listen, and then come up with a management plan. There’s a standard script every doctor goes through, based on the science of medicine, and we usually have this memorized to a tee. And that’s all very well and good. However, as with many things in life -- especially those that ...

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I was recently doing some home shopping in Target. It was peak time and fairly busy. After I was done, I walked towards the front of the store and approached the counter area to pay. But alas, there appeared to be hardly any manned registers. Lots of people were strolling up and down, trying to do the same as me: find a real person to help us check out. We ...

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When a patient is unwell and seeking help, a vast number of emotions could be going through their mind. Their whole life could have been turned upside down, they may have been fearing this moment for a while, and stressing over the implications of their illness. To physicians, it may sometimes feel like just another name on our list or almost become a routine mechanical interaction, but for the ...

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The doctor-patient interaction is the absolute core of clinical medicine. Maybe I’ll go much further: it’s the core of health care in general. I always try to remember, whenever I’m ever feeling frustrated with the system, the crazy bureaucracy -- and of course, the debacle of our clunky electronic medical records and their data entry requirements -- to separate myself from all of that when I’m face-to-face with my patient ...

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There are so many theories out there about what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our complex and fragmented health care system. We are facing a perfect storm of factors: an aging population, a huge increase in chronic disease, new and expensive treatments, and rising expectations of what care we should be receiving. All of this is sending costs spiraling out of control. As a nation, we spend almost ...

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I am a frequent traveler and spend a lot of time in a number of different cities. The one I’ve currently been spending the most time in is a place, quite frankly, I’m crazy about: New York City! Anyone who writes a lot is usually also by default, a keen observer of people, and there’s no place better to do this than a busy, crowded city. There’s an interesting habit that ...

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Health care has undergone innumerable changes over the last decade, and the pace of change only appears to be accelerating. At the crux of most of the changes we’ve seen is the central problem that the cost of our health care system is unsustainable, and we as a nation need to put the brakes on it. The costs to individual patients are also unacceptably high. Unfortunately, the prevailing philosophy has been ...

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It seems like every other day, there’s a new discussion or debate which emerges about the unique challenges that minorities face in America. This is, of course, a sensitive topic, because minorities in any arena will always have their personal story. Whether it’s because of your color, or anything else that makes you feel like you face extra hurdles -- there are indeed lots of ways in which society still ...

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The path to becoming a physician is a long and character-defining one. From the moment one first realizes that they want to become a doctor, applies to medical school, and then goes through the rigorous next few years of exam after exam and exhausting clinical rotations -- the road is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Everybody is aware of how much knowledge and hard work is required to become a ...

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I recently needed to transfer my patient to a larger medical center for some urgent care. As I sat there in my relatively small hospital working out where they would be best served, a famous academic medical center that was not too far away, came to mind. I placed a call to the facility’s bed facilitator, who took the patient’s details from me, and was told to await a callback ...

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The ability to lead is not something that comes naturally to everyone. There are some people out there who are wired to lead right from when they are very young -- but these are few and far between. Most of us have to train ourselves, and acquire the necessary leadership skills based on our own learning curve and experiences. The fact is that we are all leaders in one way ...

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We are living in times of extreme political polarization in the United States. In fact, it’s a trend sweeping the Western world right now. I’ve always considered myself somewhat middle-of-the-road, and I vote much more for the candidate than the political party. Of course, I have my own strong views on certain issues, but I’m probably the type of swing voter that parties want to target because admittedly my voting ...

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A doctor is working down their long list of patients, powering through the day, striving to use their skills to get them better. Some of the patients will be follow-ups who they already know; others will be brand new patients, who they are meeting for the first time. Of course, the job of any doctor is first and foremost to heal their patient in whatever way they can. That’s what ...

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I frequently get asked how I balance my schedule as a physician who is also involved in lots of different things outside of clinical medicine. As any reader of my blog knows, I like to stay busy! As well as my work as a frontline physician (which I absolutely love and have no intention of ever leaving)- - doing a mixture of inpatient and outpatient work, I also am involved ...

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