Physicians across all levels of training are familiar with the widely recognized truth that our medical system is broken. This damage is evidenced by a paradox; perhaps it will become the great paradox of our time – physicians who were driven to a profession by a desire to help others are now the same doctors who secretly hope they don’t have to help you. It is 9 p.m. on a fairly ...

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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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Do you think I went too far in my last blog post, calling out some journalists as “pontificating parasites” who love nothing more than to slam physicians and blame us for the cost of health care? If you do, then you must not have read Elisabeth Rosenthal’s latest salvo in the Feb. 16 New York Times, where she says physicians are in “a three-way competition for ...

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Our local newspaper recently ran an article on the top of its front page, stating that our monopoly health system is now “expanding health care cost discounts.”  The article was actually a press release - free advertising on the front page. As a primary care physician who refers patients to this health system, I wanted to know what these discounts really meant. So, I asked the newspaper in an editorial, “what ...

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I am a critical care RN, and I violated my patients’ rights. For decades, every day that I worked in the emergency department or the intensive care unit, I violated my patients’ federally protected rights to participate in their plan of care. I didn’t mean to, or want to, but my tasks to maintain their life took priority over the obstacles to hearing them when they could not speak. Almost every day ...

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Mr. O has a drinking problem. More specifically, Mr. O drinks far too much and far too often, and for reasons that can't be addressed with the tool he's chosen. I met him at what could be called the low point of his life, except I know better than to hope things will look up. On a night I covered the intensive care unit, this particular man ascended from the coma ...

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On February 12, 2020, the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) announced that the USMLE Step 1 will transition to a pass/fail exam in January 2022 at the earliest. This move comes amidst increasing pressure on the NBME regarding its financial conflicts of interest, as well as the tangible sense among medical school deans that students were neglecting ...

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Growing up in a Korean household meant that I had very little experience with the type of baking that most Americans are used to; My grandma made rice cakes, not birthday cakes. But during my third year of medical school, an intern recommended a show called The Great British Bake Off. After watching a few episodes and seeing what devoted home bakers could do, I was smitten and resolved to bake a ...

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acp new logo A guest column by the American College of Physicians, exclusive to KevinMD. Engaging personally with our health care system either as a patient or family member is usually an eye-opening experience for most physicians.  It provides a glimpse of what those under our care likely deal with on a daily basis while attempting to manage ...

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“How did you like it there?” I ask, sitting down next to a new fellow (between bites of a plump sandwich, hoping there is no spinach in my teeth). I expect to hear the standard resident talking points — long hours, frequent call, and ballooning student loans. Instead, she surprises me. “Do you know how much they charged us to park there every month?” I frequently text friends who are residents at her previous program. It is a ...

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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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My wife and I had a baby a few months ago. Or, more accurately, she birthed a child while I sat in the corner, contemplating the miracle of reproductive physiology in a vasovagal fugue. In the months leading up to and following that wondrous moment, we found ourselves navigating the labyrinthine complexity of parental leave in graduate medical education. To start with the positive, we are both residents in the same ...

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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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Today my clinic patient lost his wallet, including his cash, government ID, and his credit cards. He drove more than 130 miles to the clinic.  Still, somehow, he sat in front of me in the exam chair as patient as ever through all my history questions. When I asked about his day as I was washing my hands just prior to the exam, he told me his wallet story. I ...

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As a rising fourth-year med student, these are my words of wisdom for all students who are on their clinical rotations. Your mental health is paramount; do not neglect how you are feeling! There is not one med student that I know of who hasn’t felt anxiety, paranoia, or depression. Some of your peers may even be diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and take medications. And that is OK! As a mentor of ...

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What if I told you just a few years ago that Amazon — a budding e-commerce startup — would come to disrupt the multi-billion dollar retail industry. I seriously doubt that anyone could have given it a serious thought. At least not in the magnitude that will force a slew of big-box retailers to shut their doors for good. I am sure the same response would have been elicited about Uber and ...

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"Compassion fatigue" is a phrase thrown around easily when talking about the health care professions. It is often spoken in the same breath as "burnout" and "turnover" while discussing the crisis of a diminishing workforce and increasing demand in health care. The phrase brings to mind the burnt-out nurse who doesn't have the emotional energy to care anymore. I can see her: deep frown lines, flat facial expression, dimmed eyes. The light ...

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“Oh, you’re here to take me to my test.”  I have heard this too many times to count, and I have come to perfect my response. “No, I am not patient transport, your social worker, or your nurse. I am your doctor.” After a moment of confusion, I usually see a facial expression signaling that the patient is reframing his or her initial thoughts. Maybe I am misidentified because I am young, or ...

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Kahlil Gibran writes, "In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone." What types of outcomes can physicians and patients achieve in healing, living, and life when Gibran's message is incorporated into the physician-patient relationship? Can humanism in medicine become even more humanistic? "Humanism in medicine" is characterized by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation as respectful ...

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If you asked me five years ago what my career goals were, I may have said something about getting more grant funding and writing more manuscripts so I could eventually become an independently funded physician-scientist. But honestly, at that time, I had no concept of the nitty-gritty details and emotional support that it would take to accomplish those goals. My primary research mentor was a notable figure in our field ...

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