“How long have you been married?” The question came from a young woman kneeling down by the elevator in the hotel where my wife and I were staying while in Seattle. We were there to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary with an Alaskan cruise. I hadn’t even noticed her as my wife and I were busy talking about the day. She appeared to be in her twenties. Her appearance was that of ...

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We wrote this blog on National Physician Suicide Awareness Day. As a chapter wellness champion for the American College of Physicians, I have spent the past few months planning on what this September should entail. From Webinars to Facebook pages to tweets, I've included anything that I could to let my friends and colleagues know that they are not alone. There is a way out: we just have to keep ...

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National Physician Suicide Awareness Day was September 17, 2020.  Honestly, I hate that this day needs to exist.  Prior to COVID, physicians had the highest suicide rate of any profession, and we clearly needed to be having conversations about how we improve care for physicians.  Since COVID, the stress placed on physicians has increased exponentially.  In hotspots, we’ve felt overwhelmed and demoralized.  In the downtime, we’ve had to worry about ...

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Work-related stress causes 120,000 deaths and results in $190 billion in healthcare costs yearly, and U.S. businesses lose up to $300 billion yearly as a result. Stress, depression, and anxiety are, unfortunately, part of the modern human condition. Busy and ambitious healthcare professionals especially are burning out at record rates while experiencing severe mental trauma during this pandemic. On Patriot Day, Medscape published a study showing that 64 percent of U.S. physicians ...

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I was admitted to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation and stabilization just after my third year of medical school. Leading up to my episode, I thought I was fine - stressed, sure, overworked, definitely, but I thought that was normal for someone just finishing a year of clinical rotations. I deteriorated rapidly, and by the time I was admitted, I felt dazed, disoriented, and completely exhausted. I didn’t know what ...

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In 2009, I started a family medicine residency. This dream had been brewing since age five when I decided that I wanted to be a doctor. I followed that dream like a mouse follows cheese. Despite some obstacles in the way, I kept my eyes on the prize. I couldn't wait to be a doctor—a PCP. I couldn't believe that someone would call me "their" doctor. The thought thrilled me. ...

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The stresses of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are taking a significant toll on not only physical health but also mental health and wellbeing. A recent study published on JAMA Network Open found that symptoms of depression were three times more prevalent among the U.S. adults surveyed during the pandemic than before it. Those with lower income, less money in savings, and exposure to more sources of ...

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Ironically, his fingers looked like cigarette butts. They were black and chalky at the tips and then tan through his knuckles to his hands. A couple was capped by long yellow fingernails, shooting out like stalks of hay, bending in different directions. A few other fingertips had already fallen off, leaving behind stumps he could barely flex or wave. I sat down and asked what he knew about his disease. "I've Googled it," ...

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1986. I graduated from LPN to RN. And I was immediately offered a new job. Manager of a six-bed ER. This hospital had three surgical suites — 50 inpatient beds and 2 L&D suites. This was a private Catholic hospital run by the nuns. The computer system was new and a foreign object. Sister Ursula* (name changed) of medical records was so overwhelmed by the volume of paper charts that she hid ...

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This is a time of change and uncertainty in medicine. Being a resident right now during the pandemic of 2020 is even more unpredictable, especially in a field that is not necessarily directly on the frontlines, so to speak. Two years ago, I was choosing between psychiatry and emergency medicine after a long-standing interest in the latter, having no idea that during my training, we would experience a crisis of ...

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"There are roughly 221 million people — including 48 million kids — in states where marijuana has been named a medicine. These include patients who suffer from depression and could see their symptoms worsen. Mothers who could give birth to babies with low birth weights. Children who could face an increased risk of addiction, depression, and suicide. We must allow our citizens ...

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CC: "I feel like crap." HPI: 29-year old female internal medicine resident. Hasn't seen sunlight in over three months due to 100 hour work weeks.  Crying at work. Always exhausted and irritable.  Isolated from friends and family.  Feels guilty that she is not effective at work and home.  States recent labs were normal. ROS: Gen: hypersomnia HEENT: teeth grinding CV: chest pressure, palpitations GI: decreased appetite with weight loss Neuro: headaches Psych: apathetic, not suicidal Meds: none Social: alcohol on ...

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"Physicians are steeped in a noxious culture that seems to be averse to creating healthy physicians. We ignore mountains of evidence that show exercise, sleep, and healthy eating is beneficial for cognitive function, learning, and performance — all aspects that physicians should optimize. But the current medical training system pushes physicians, residents, and students to the brink of their physical, emotional, and mental ...

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An excerpt from Medical Marijuana: A Clinical Handbook. Imagine two patients sitting in the waiting area of a clinic. The first is a man in his sunset years who has recently begun treatment for stage 2 lung cancer. His treatment involves the use of chemotherapy, which has ...

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Last November, our medical school’s community faced a devastating loss, as second-year student R took her own life. As she was rushed to our hospital’s emergency room, some of R’s classmates, as well as her physician mentor, were on rotation and bared witness to her getting rolled in. Understandably, the loss of R cut deeply. While not often discussed, medical student suicide has been no stranger to medical schools both ...

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Teachers in Ontario, Canada never imagined they would leave for March break and not return to finish the school year with their students. Many classrooms were frozen in time with Friday, March 12, 2020 still displayed on the walls.

Before COVID-19, the rotating strikes by Ontario teachers were the big news story in education in the province. Issues such as mandatory e-learning, securing funding to hire special ...

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An excerpt from This Is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More. Suzy was a bright and hardworking student. However, even though she was conscientious and generally cheery, her grades began to fall during ...

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My college graduation was approaching, and I was slated to start medical school in the fall. I was happy. You could find me with an impossible smile, singing along with the windows down to my favorite song -- Beat of the Music by Brett Eldredge -- as I made my way through menial errands. Everything felt like sunshine. Before I knew it, the metaphorical firehose of medical school was underway.  I ...

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If you’re reading this, you’re probably stressed. Whether it’s related to work, household chores, parenting, school, politics, or, yes, COVID, stress is a normal part of life. Because stress is a normal part of life, our bodies have adapted to react to stress through a series of neurophysiological responses. Once the stressor or threat has been resolved, we settle back into a state of repose. This ability to maintain a sense ...

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Today I wanted to talk about a concept that is very near and dear to my heart: Holding space. Have you ever heard of it? Do you know how to describe it? I will first start with the definition and then give you an example. Holding space means being physically, mentally, and emotionally present for someone. It means putting your focus on someone to support them as they feel their feelings. An important ...

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