Burnout has been an issue for those in health care long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the increased stress and anxiety we face now have caused a host of new problems.  The current environment health care professionals (HCPs) find themselves in has brought issues of physical and emotional exhaustion, compassion fatigue, and moral injury, not to mention more instances of second victim syndrome (the effect of an unanticipated, adverse medical ...

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In a February 2021 Facebook Live presentation sponsored by Seattle Children’s Hospital, Jill Escher, the president of the National Council on Severe Autism (NCSA), called for splitting the autism spectrum. In some individuals, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) presents as a serious developmental disability affecting communication, learning, motivation, and all aspects of daily living. These individuals require 24/7 level care. Others on the spectrum have mild differences in ...

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Long ago, in the BC (before COVID) era, I would chat up a local in a foreign country. Their usual response upon learning I was from the U.S. would be to seek clarification on aspects of American culture found most peculiar. There were your usual suspects -- the Electoral College, imperial versus metric systems, and why we’re obsessed with the Kardashians -- but the most common question was about our ...

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There is ample evidence that patients with severe mental illness are at high risk for significant medical comorbidities. A complex combination of factors contributes to this excess risk and consequential poor outcomes. Socioeconomic factors, side effects from psychiatric medications, poor access to health care as well as smoking, alcohol, and substance use, prevalent in this population, are some of the factors that contribute to patients with ...

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"The memory of these patients, and their families’ utter anguish, stays with me. There was nothing I could have done to save them, nothing I did wrong. I’ve lost sleep, questioned my career choice, and sought mental health counseling to manage the stress of their loss. But the pain of their unexpected ...

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“Julie” began the telehealth encounter in her car, greeting me with a cheerful smile. The sun glimmered through the driver-side window, illuminating the water spots to sparkle like diamonds. “How are you doing with your suboxone dose? Do you feel that you need to go up, or are you happy with your current dose?” I asked. “Everything is going great,” she said. “I feel no cravings – only some constipation. Otherwise, everything ...

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Loss is incurable, but grief is metamorphic. The end of another human life is a fluid experience for those left behind. For most of us, grief legitimizes the range of human emotion and, at least temporarily, erases the idea of being too sensitive.

There are many ways in which this paradigm is unequal, particularly for individuals who frequently confront death. It seems that when a challenge moves into the ...

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"COVID-19 has propelled the nation into widespread telehealth services to provide consumer-based care, especially for those who access this technology. Equity issues arise when using digital communication because many underserved populations lack access to digital and/or mobile services. Inevitably, this brings up the greater concern of an unintentional exacerbation of disparities because low-income ...

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As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, we appear to have another long winter ahead of us in 2021. In March of 2020, stay-at-home orders were put in place, schools closed, and many people were spending more time at home than ever before. While being home has offered benefits to some, others have been trapped in terrifying circumstances with no escape. In March of 2020, domestic-violence hotlines prepared for increased call ...

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About a year ago, before the pandemic hit, I was at the local fitness center, having just completed a group exercise class, when my former residency program director entered the room. I hadn’t seen him in 20 years. He looked exactly the same, give or take a few grey hairs. We smiled and heartily greeted each other. We’d known each other since I was a medical student. When I did ...

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"I am a veterinarian. More specifically, I am a veterinary specialist, board-certified in emergency and critical care. I don’t play with puppies and kittens. I treat the worst of the worst in a specialty hospital setting with a state-of-the-art ER and ICU. Despite years of education, including veterinary school, internship, fellowship, ...

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As doctors, we are taught the art of assessing our patients through the doctor-patient relationship. We learn a series of open-ended questions to gain insight into our patients' values and thoughts regarding their personal health. We learn how to evaluate lab values and make diagnoses. Through all of this, we strive to make optimal decisions for our patients to avoid the legal ramifications of medical errors and because physicians thrive ...

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In addition to the medical risks of COVID-19, the pandemic's occupational hazards are numerous for health care workers. The threat of walking into the clinic or hospital and being exposed to the increasingly contagious novel coronavirus is a now-familiar reality for the many physicians caring for patients. It is astounding to think about these surreal conditions as the pandemic approaches its one-year mark. As doctors, we have met this new ...

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"I can do better. We can do better. Please partner with me and advocate for the ability for doctors and residents in our profession to receive medical and psychiatric care without fear of losing our licenses or having to face stigma and judgment. It can save lives. Please, we are more ...

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This excerpt is adapted from Stress in Medicine: Lessons Learned Through My Years as a Surgeon, from Med School to Residency, and Beyond. I will never forget the moment when I learned that a longtime physician friend had taken his own life. My friend was ...

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I have been searching for something all of my life. Some would call it happiness; others call it success. No matter what I achieve, the goalposts seem to keep moving. Perhaps this sounds familiar. Maybe you realize that it is all an endless chase. Maybe you are tired of:

  • not being completely at peace
  • being concerned with what others think
  • having your sense of self-worth tied to your children’s “success”
  • living life as ...

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This topic always takes me back.  To the time my life stopped and flipped upside down.  I never understood how people could drop to their knees in public and have a moment of agony or grief.  I guess the pain I had felt up to that moment was not strong enough to knock me to my knees.  But that day ... it was enough. The repeated missed phone calls.  The wailing ...

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Recent events in our mid-west region prompted us to bring the topic of physician suicide forward with our residents and fellows. They received this information in a weekly mindfulness email they receive as part of our internal coaching program: Losing a colleague or friend to suicide is a tragedy to those who survive and it can be devastating.  With such tragedy can come feelings of sadness, grief and confusion. The feeling of loss that can ...

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As a diagnostic radiologist, I could not have imagined anything more amazing than having the privilege of using “x-ray vision” to peer inside my patients’ bodies in search of the etiologies behind their symptoms and illnesses. But over time, I felt incredibly stressed, anxious, imbalanced, and overwhelmed, and I developed many symptoms and illnesses of my own, including migraines, tinnitus, vertigo, body pain, reflux, and intermittent paresthesias. My hands would ...

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"The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone, especially those of us in health care.  Our way of practicing medicine has been changed; some would say forever. We find ourselves affected not only clinically but also emotionally.  As a result, clinicians are experiencing more stress and anxiety than ever before. These feelings are ...

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