My late father often repeated the adage, “Any man who serves as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” We physicians may not represent ourselves in court, but we often try to treat ourselves or neglect our own medical care — and end up with a fool for a patient. My uncle was a family physician who practiced in the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. He was my childhood hero ...

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In 2006, the Mayo Clinic asked 192 patients an important question: What makes an ideal physician? From their responses, several characteristics emerged. Among the top criteria, they wanted doctors to be “personal,” “empathetic” and “humane.” This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Of course, we want doctors who relate to their patients as people instead of just another “case.” We want doctors to have sympathy for ...

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Practicing medicine at the frontlines is hard. It’s damn hard. Every minute you need to be alert, ready to respond to a potential life or death situation, and be called to another important problem. The current medical practice environment -- with excessive bureaucracy, suboptimal information technology, and extreme time pressure with patients -- adds exponentially to the mix, and can make for a very stressful job. Make no mistake, even ...

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Very few things in the universe are 100 percent good or 100 percent bad. Cannabis is perfectly ordinary in having a mixture of good qualities (medical benefits) and bad qualities (medical risks). The people who want to make money – lots of money, by the way – from selling marijuana do a perfectly fine job of pointing out the good. But they don’t educate the public about the possible risks. They know it will ...

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This article is sponsored by Careers by KevinMD.com. "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name." So go the famous lyrics from the theme song for "Cheers," the iconic sitcom of the 1980s. The name thing can get really personal in medicine — and everyone has an opinion — as evidenced by a plaintive blog posting ...

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I often wonder what it was like before patient-centered care became a mainstream catchphrase. Was there a poor relationship between the patient and physician in the outpatient setting? Were hospitalized patients’ feelings, desires, goals, and therapy options ignored? It amazes me that we were able to care for patients more than ten years ago without using a “patient-centered” approach. According to NEJM Catalyst, “Patient-and family-centered care encourages the ...

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As medical professionals, one of the most challenging things to do is to motivate a patient to make changes in their lives. We passionately want the best for our patients, and it is sometimes so difficult for us to be able to connect with and inspire them to take the next step on a path to disease prevention and longevity. The solution? Enter Lebron James and Tom Brady. It is no ...

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I didn’t become a primary care doctor to treat opioid addiction. I wasn’t trained for it. To be honest, it scared me. But when you work, like I do, at a clinic that serves a lot of people who have little money or who struggle with mental health and substance use issues, there comes a point when you have to step up. When I started seeing patients in 2009, I knew that opioid ...

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Apocryphal story from residency: On morning rounds in the critical care unit, the post-call resident starts to present a complicated patient admitted overnight with chest pain, and after the first bits of the history have been presented, the wise old cardiology attending turns to the gathered medical students who are just starting their first clinical rotation and asks them what they ...

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I see several patients daily with cancer. Some days can be tough, but nothing compares to what they are going through. I know that. The physical anguish and toll that chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can take on the body. The burden that the disease can take on the mind and the soul. It’s devastating and almost always life-changing. What makes things harder though is when a patient did not go ...

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