I am a medical doctor—a hospitalist working in an environment with many talented professionals.  We share our knowledge and our approach to medicine with one another in ways that profoundly affect our patients and other personnel in the hospital. At our best, we are a community whose foundation is a willingness and openness to discuss hard facts and make difficult decisions. So why is it that when I was first diagnosed with ...

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I smiled as I waddled to the recovery room for the sixth time that day.  Before maternity leave, my final case was completed; I left with my patients in trustworthy hands, and the loose ends tied up.  As I walked to my car, I never imagined the circumstances I would return to 12 weeks later and now six months ago. I have never subscribed to clichés, but as I sat in ...

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"While our bodies have been a bastion of the heart and soul of medicine, a group of our peers thought it was acceptable to diminish the capabilities of our bodies to pictures on social media. They thought our ability to be exceptional physicians was inversely proportional to the number of pictures that showed us holding a drink or wearing a bikini. Our ...

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I found out I was pregnant the night before a chemistry exam. I had taken a break from stoichiometry to take a very different kind of test, one I bought from the nearest Walmart to avoid any indiscretion on the family Amazon account. After the second pink line appeared, clear as day, I got up off the bathroom floor and joined a friend to finish the last of our review. ...

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In medicine, we define shared-decision making between the patient and physician as our gold standard ideal. Leveraging separate ideals is our standard of behavior. So what must it feel like to a patient of faith when his/her physician tells him/her "believe the science?" Scientific evidence and religious texts can both be manipulated to support a group's point of view. Based on their own agendas, groups have used science to argue ...

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"Setting: An impersonal, windowless conference room within a hospital Characters: A nurse in charge (NIC), a department chair (DC) and me (ME) NIC: Thank you for joining us to discuss the report you made of unprofessional behavior in the operating room. We’d like to start by letting you know that in this institution, we have a culture of informality. When I first got here, ...

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The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how vulnerable access to abortion care is in the U.S. health care system. Abortion is one of the most time-sensitive, potentially life-altering procedures an individual can undergo, however, lawmakers since March have explained it away as an elective and non-essential procedure. Bans and restrictions were instituted in 12 states in March and April, with most overturned thereafter or removed once elective ...

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On October 12th, 2020, I underwent a LEEP procedure to remove the distal portion of my cervix. In the wake of COVID-19, with PPE and willing staff in short supply to complete Pap smears in clinic, a colleague and I were trialing self-swab HPV testing - a technique pioneered in countries like Australia that is likely to become the eventual standard of care for cervical cancer screening. Since my last ...

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It was an average Minnesota fall day. I ran out of the house to do a 3 a.m. vaginal delivery.  I was tired, both mentally and physically.  Medicine has always been such a joyous calling for me.  I probably commit nearly 16 hours a day to my job in one way, shape or form, whether its education, writing, clinic duties.  Everyone has always asked me how I haven't gotten burned ...

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By my second rotation of the third year, I could not help but feel like a superfluous, if not inconsequential, cog in the medical machine. Yes, we are learners and need to see patients in order to become adequate health care providers – but on a busy labor and delivery (L&D) floor, it was easy to become entrenched in the notion that our efforts have little impact on patient care. ...

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After the combination of COVID-19 and George Floyd's death, it felt like time stood still across the Twin Cities.  As a physician, I couldn't understand how a pandemic response could be partisan.  However, I became even more shocked at the partisan divide when it came time to discuss racism and gender equity.  As a physician, we take an oath to protect life.  We are trained to care for people in ...

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Physicians love to feel in control. We thrive in environments where we feel we can predict the outcome. Do well in medical school and on boards—you will get into a residency. Take the statin—it will improve your cholesterol. Do the screening colonoscopy—it will improve your chances of catching cancer early. I think most of us can agree we would give these recommendations. But certainty, the foundation of predictability, is not a given.  We know ...

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As physicians, we know all too well how life can change in an instant.  How tomorrow is never promised.  This knowledge can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it is also a gift. Because we know how precious life is. I am a physician—but I am also a patient.  An infertility patient, for whom each passing year can feel like a lost opportunity. Because my eggs don’t have the perspective. They don’t see the privilege. ...

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As the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded, the uncertainty of this crisis has stoked heightened awareness and precaution in each aspect of our lives. We have incorporated personal protective equipment into our human interactions, and we are compulsively practicing sanitation rituals. Our social connections have been tethered at a distance for months on end. As a society, we are experiencing collective grief. Grieving hundreds of thousands of lives lost and the ...

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It is hard to imagine an age in which assisted reproductive technology (ART) did not exist. The CDC reported that 1.7 percent of U.S. births in 2017 were attributable to ART, with approximately 285,000 ART cycles reported that year. In reality, the process is not as straightforward as it may seem on paper.

As a radiologist, I was involved peripherally with patients struggling ...

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Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed during pregnancy. In fact, 5 percent of invasive breast cancers occur in women less than 40 years of age, and 7 to 14 percent of premenopausal breast cancers occur in pregnant women. Harrington and other surgeons in 1943 felt that the prognosis was so poor for pregnant women with breast cancer that radical mastectomy was not justified. As women delay both marriage and ...

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As a practicing physician, there is a lot to be mindful of right now. Today, COVID-19 is on the forefront in most healthcare settings, both in identifying and treating symptoms of the virus, and in inhibiting its community spread. In the multiple labor and delivery units where I work as an OB hospitalist, the culture change is clearly visible -- an event that is usually filled with family members and friends ...

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Setting: An impersonal, windowless conference room within a hospital Characters: A nurse in charge (NIC), a department chair (DC) and me (ME) *** NIC: Thank you for joining us to discuss the report you made of unprofessional behavior in the operating room. We’d like to start by letting you know that in this institution, we have a culture of informality. When I first got here, I found it unsettling that doctors were called ...

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I held back my tears as I headed home that day from work. A sense of impending doom and fear of the future was clutching my heart, something like I have never experienced before. For the first time in my medical career, my mind was preoccupied with thoughts about my own safety and how it could be at stake. What had started off as a regular day at work, had ...

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As protests broke out on the streets of downtown Cleveland and the National Guard camped outside the hospital, I delivered a beautiful, Black baby boy. In some ways, that night was like any other night. Another vaginal delivery, another moment filled with love and joy that I had the privilege of sharing with a family. But this delivery felt different. Medically, the patient was fine. My checklist of assessments after the ...

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