The academic medical community has drastically changed how we educate and share our ideas since the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Spring of 2020.  The remote meeting, often conducted via Zoom or a similar web-based platform, has gone from a rare occurrence to the default manner in which we conduct business.  As a full-time academic cardiologist with three children under six years old, to say evening meetings ...

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As the mother of a child born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, besides going through four open-heart surgeries and coding, my son has also had eight abdominal surgeries, including a Ladd’s procedure and resection of his colon.  William also functions without his appendix, spleen, and gall bladder. In addition to every kind of therapy imaginable, he has had to endure pamidronate infusions, daily shots, G-tube feedings, and TPN. Who knows ...

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"We are social beings. Evolution has taught us that in order to survive, we must work together. Community trust (trusting your fellow citizen) is a very effective way to build community resilience when hardships strike. Studies have been done in the wake of natural disasters and have shown that social infrastructure and connections have equal, if not more, impact on the ...

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The patient arrived in cardiac arrest. He had been brought to our emergency department in the middle of the night. Although he had a significant cardiac history, including bypass surgery, he was only in his late 40s. His transport from his house to our department had been less than 10 minutes, and the pre-hospital team had done an excellent job of intubating this patient and establishing an IV to begin ...

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During my first year of medical school, a professor in my clinical skills course shared a timeless adage in medicine: “If you listen closely enough to the patient, they will tell you the diagnosis.” I accepted this statement as a fact of medicine - if I could develop astute history taking skills in my first year, this skill would serve me well throughout my medical training. However, when I volunteered ...

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Some people have high cholesterol but not much atherosclerosis. We think of their arteries as having nonstick surfaces. We know inflammation can predispose to plaque formation and plaque rupture, which is the trigger of most heart attacks. We know statin drugs can prevent and reverse plaque buildup, and make existing plaque sturdier and less likely to rupture. These drugs lower blood levels of inflammatory substances. Most doctors focus on their cholesterol-lowering ...

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"Trainees like myself travel great distances from home in pursuit of higher edification. Yet the coronavirus makes us worry about the aged family we leave behind – parents and grandparents. A WhatsApp message ensuring they’ve stocked up on acetaminophen, toilet paper and canned soup (low sodium, of course) the only assuage to our anguish. The rigors of medicine often demand sacrifice, sometimes ...

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It's the first day of fellowship, and everyone's getting to know each other. "Oh, you won't have time to work out here." I'm not the small, scrawny kid I was back in high school anymore, even if that's the person I still see in the mirror. I've added roughly 50 pounds since college, and it shows with the things people say. Being told I won't have time to work out has been ...

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One of the greatest health challenges in our lives is the phenomenon of burnout. It occurs when there is enough negative stress that persists over time. As many of us know, stress is an integral part of being human. It can be positive (an upcoming wedding or birth of a child) or negative (job loss or physical injury). At its core, stress is any physical, mental, or emotional factor, external or ...

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As a nurse practitioner, I have the privilege of helping people achieve their health care goals. But in light of recent events surrounding social justice, I find that I am increasingly challenged in new ways. Ways that my training and likely other nursing or medical schools did not address. I have that uncomfortable feeling of being ill-prepared to address the ramifications of social justice on the health of my patients. ...

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In a small community not far from my hometown, Paul sat peacefully in his self-built abode on a July day like just about any other. Happy to experience the peace of his bucolic life far from the hustle and bustle of the city, he rarely visited a doctor despite a festering back ailment that limited his ability to work. He had no retirement savings and no plan for life after ...

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The warm rays of the sun serenade me as I drive to work eager to begin another shift. I find a parking spot on the first floor of the garage don my N95 mask and walk towards the hospital. First, I must stop by at the neighboring building and have my temperature checked. Today it is 97.3. I am awarded the sticker for the day; my boarding pass into the ...

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On the morning of George Floyd’s funeral less than ten miles from our medical center in Houston, I was avoiding the word “Black.” Despite wholehearted pride in the strong Black presence in our community health center’s physicians, staff, and patients, I felt a loss of words that Tuesday morning. There was simply too much pain, grief, and rage in our community.

I was thankful ...

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Yeah. I said it. As an anesthesiologist, especially as a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist, there are few things I am more interested in than how well or how poorly your heart functions and why.  And a cardiologist can help me obtain a lot of vital information in that regard.  But there several things a cardiologist cannot, and I argue, should not do, when it comes to the perioperative care of patients. First, a cardiologist's assessment ...

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He did a double-take as we passed on our small town sidewalk the other day. “Hey Doc, I didn’t recognize you dressed like that, without your …”, he gestured to where my tie or stethoscope would have been. I was wearing a cafe-au-lait colored T-shirt and faded Levis. “Did you hear about the appointment with the cardiologist yet,” I asked. “It’s in two weeks,” he answered. “Tell me, Doc, how serious is this ...

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A couple of months ago, I had a lecture on the "Principles of Epidemiology and Public Health." I remember looking at the graphs taken from the American Heart Association and noting that the incidence of developing coronary heart disease or myocardial infarction was higher in black men compared to their white counterparts. I thought to myself, "So this means that race is a risk factor in ...

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When I left Wall Street to pursue a career in medicine, I had some understanding of the long and winding path ahead of me, but I never anticipated our current strange reality leveled by the destructive force of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  We now face surreal uncertainties, including the shutdown of large swaths of our health system, hospitals running out of protective medical equipment, and frontline health care workers succumbing to ...

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Right now, we are facing a living nightmare. Thousands of people across the globe, perhaps even people we know, are dying from COVID-19. This pandemic has left death and disability in its wake. The main way we are being asked to help is by staying at home in order to lower the chances of the virus spreading from person to person. This is especially important since it has been shown ...

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I am writing this as I lay in bed, feverish, sweaty, and persistent dry cough. I have been sick with presumed COVID-19 for the past ten days. I have quarantined myself from my wife and two sons, unable to hug or reassure them that everything will be okay. Additionally, my wife is 39 weeks pregnant. Therefore, I will be unable to accompany her in the delivery room and may not ...

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"Obama!" Mr. J grumbled, shaking his head and wrinkling his nose. "Obama, Obama, Obama!" Mr. J was known in the hospital as a frequent flier for his heroin abuse. Now, though, his use of dirty needles had landed him in my ICU with a life-threatening bacterial infection in his bloodstream. As his fever raged, he became so delirious that he could not tell me where he was, the year, or even his own name. ...

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