When a coalition of medical organizations, led by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), petitioned in 2001 to cap medical resident work hours, they were turned down by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Despite their rejection, students and young doctors were determined. They knew that exhausted residents had poorer health and made more ...

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Over the past two months, health professionals and community advocates have brought to the fore of national attention what has been the lived experience of many within black and brown communities for ages — racism kills. The substrate of structural racism and systemic inequities, now combined with a catalyst, COVID-19, is accelerating fatalities among those who are disproportionately burdened by chronic diseases ...

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Health care is enjoying an abundance of positive attention as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. My question, my challenge, is how can we sustain this love-fest between the public and the health care profession even after we obtain a vaccine or an effective treatment for COVID-19? Let’s be perfectly honest: six months ago, the American health care system was considered, even by physicians, as broken and in dire need of ...

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Every day our governors announce the COVID death toll and highlight a family who lost a member of their family too soon. COVID took a 35-year-old mother. It took a 48-year-old father.   These deaths are tragic.  But a frequent refrain is that this virus mainly kills those with extensive health problems, it kills the old, it kills those that would die anyway.   The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) estimates ...

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“You forgot your stethoscope!” The medical student dutifully pointed out as we were on our way to the patient room. “I don’t need it. But let me grab it anyway to pretend. But don’t tell anyone I said that!” I replied.  Her eyes widened with disbelief at the blasphemous statement.

At the turn of the millennium, the world was already going through seismic changes in how it conducts itself ...

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I wake to a WhatsApp call. It is my aunt, who lives in India. “We are all worried about you,” she says. “All of us here are praying for you. Make sure that you stay safe.” Coincidentally, she is a nun, so I’ll take her prayers whenever I can get them. I promise her that I will stay safe, and then I get ready to enter the ER. I don ...

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The United States has some of the most advanced medical technology in the world, yet COVID-19 has exposed significant deficiencies in our health care system. As nothing will be the same after coronavirus, our health care system must also change as we move forward.  Now is the time to work towards improving the current system and begin to develop an infrastructure that delivers medical ...

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Consents have become a prominent part of health care. We sign consents for visits, procedures, medication, privacy, release of information, care of minors … the list goes on and on. We must acknowledge and respect the patient’s autonomy in their care. This is never more apparent or more important than in end of life care. Physicians encourage everyone to have an end of life plan, a living will. It is ...

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“You are what you eat.”

Jean Anthelme Brillant-Savarin, a French lawyer, epicurean, and father of the low carbohydrate diet, penned these words in the 18th century. As we struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic, we search for personal ways to influence our health and our immune system to combat this pestilence. Food choices are an overlooked variable that may alter our fate.

Our human engagement with infections is played out ...

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With any new illness comes metaphor. It is humanity’s attempt to incorporate the mystery of disease into our own stories. We like to personify illness, give it human characteristics as a way of visualizing it. We name its actions to help lessen its unpredictability. Tuberculosis consumed. Syphilis punished. AIDS invaded. Cancer grows. COVID-19 quarantines separate and spread fear. How long does it take for a disease or illness to become a ...

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Recently, I ran across a post on social media with multiple bullet points of theories targeted at the current COVID-19 pandemic. Having encountered handfuls of previous posts running along the lines of these factually incorrect claims, I decided it was time to politely challenge the post by asking for the sources of these claims. Within minutes, I was attacked by multiple users with claims of being a “sheep,” ignorantly believing ...

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I often turn to my children when facing life’s vexing moments. So I did just that recently. “Kiddos, what do you think coronavirus is here to teach us?" My 11 year old spoke first, “To be thankful for our health.” Gratitude, huh? I step back from this moment and wonder if she is on to something. Working as a physician and educator, and ...

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Imagine there are two individuals who have been admitted to a hospital due to COVID-19, and both desperately need ventilators. One is a 60-year-old with a heart condition, and another is a 63-year-old with chronic kidney disease. Because of resource constraints, you have to decide which patient will be able to receive a ventilator. Both patients’ families are looking to you to help their loved one through this illness. With ...

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One of the most memorable milestones in my life was my journey to becoming a doctor. A path that I look upon so fondly as it marks a time that molded much of who I am today. Charles Dickens describes my experience perfectly, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness …” Like many of ...

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1. Anesthesiologists are your protector

Think about this: An anesthesiologist's job is to protect you from the harm your surgeon is causing.  Seriously. A surgeon's job, at its very essence, is to damage your body. Now undeniably, it is with the intention of causing greater good and/or fixing something that is already broken.  But in order for a surgeon to help a patient, they take a knife, saw, drill, ...

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I learned to call Atlanta home after college. It was at Grady Memorial Hospital that I first shadowed doctors, and decided that I would go to medical school. Two and a half years into being an ATLien, I cried inconsolably because it was time to leave. I have since continued to yearn for the day I will migrate back South. As I contemplate where I will apply to residency this ...

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The only drawback to reading The Plague by Albert Camus for the first time while experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic is that I will never get the experience of reading it from a less personal perspective. As the plague in the novel begins to unfold slowly through rat deaths and lockdowns, I recognized my own incredulity in the townspeople as they struggle to accept their new normal. Camus names their reluctance ...

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Telemedicine blossomed into an essential tool in health care overnight due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. It is a long lost innovation at the forefront of our battle. Telemedicine is especially valuable for our frail older adult patients. At the initial phase of the pandemic, a quick decision was made by fellowship program leaders to transition to telemedicine in an attempt to decrease the number of cases, help protect ...

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When I made the choice to pursue a medical school education three years ago, I never imagined preparing to matriculate during a pandemic. After accepting a position at the Icahn School of Medicine in March, processing what came next became muddled in between figuring out how to transition to living and working out of a small one-bedroom apartment in New York City due to COVID-19. Can my partner and I ...

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COVID has focused attention on the frontlines. However, this focus ignores those with chronic health needs and disabilities. People with these conditions are left unable to continue their care or to seek care for new exacerbations. People are avoiding the ER and dying at home. Needed surgeries are postponed leaving patients with continuing pain and disability. And for many, a fear exists of not only acquiring COVID-19 but of ...

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