On one of my first days of medical school, I shuffled into a lecture hall surrounded by professional looking individuals as we had done the days before. This similar routine persisted for a few days as we became oriented to our new school. Leadership had indoctrinated us with professionalism, administrative staff had terrified us to the point of avoiding any patient information for fear of being sent wherever they send ...

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We want competent physicians, but we also want compassionate ones. How do we get them? Is it nature or is it nurture? Is it more important to search out more compassionate students, or should we instill compassion somehow in the ones we start along the training pipeline? I think the answer lies in nurturing what nature has already put there. My background is in pediatric critical care, which I have practiced ...

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This summer, new resident physicians begin their training all across the United States. Today, our future family physicians and pediatricians, neurosurgeons and emergency physicians, plastic surgeons and laser tattoo removal specialists (OK, not really a specialty, just a sideline) will begin learning how to be physicians, having completed four years of expensive college and four years of even more expensive medical school. Anxiety-filled and debt-ridden, they will embark on four ...

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I was recently interviewed by someone on the topic of clinician burnout. The interviewee asked me how I respond to those who say that burnout does not exist, is being overstated, or is the result of a weaker generation of practicing physicians. I find this difference in opinion interesting. Most of the time, when a physician complains to me about the focus on clinical burnout, they are 1) of an older ...

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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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Anyone who has worked in medicine for a long time well understands the power of the statement coming from an experienced person: “This kid looks sick.” That person could be a physician or nurse. Years of experience does tend to give one a sort of sixth sense for when to worry something serious is going on that just hasn’t shown itself fully yet. Seasoned parents can often provide the same ...

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“After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill -- the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill -- you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: All I’m offering is the truth.” – Morpheus from The Matrix Many physicians submit to a life of sterility and dullness — ...

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As an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist, I witness plenty of tragedy. But I don’t lay awake at night anymore grieving bad outcomes — that is the privilege and purview of loved ones. While family and friends may move through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ classic stages of grief, doctors do not have that luxury. To give tragedies a purpose, I take three steps when faced with bad outcomes: Separate fault from ...

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“I remember you,” said Gracie with the look of having found a long-lost friend. “You gave my husband the option to be treated aggressively in the hospital or return home with palliative care. He chose to go home.” I hesitated to ask, “How did he do?” Gracie went on to say that her husband had passed in the last month, yet lived nine months following our brief encounter in the ...

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So out in the varied land of hospital medicine, I have noticed something that I have no clear explanation for. It turns out there is often a gap in productivity between that of NP/PA providers and physicians. The range of the gap varies wildly – I just got off the phone with a group leader who has observed a 50 percent difference to a smaller gap of perhaps 10 percent. ...

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