As an aspiring surgeon, I at times contemplate whether being creative has any effect on my future career. On one hand, if you see surgery as an “art,” then possibly a creative personality is beneficial. On the other hand, surgery often seems objective and clear-cut, qualities often deemed uncreative. Perhaps even my goals of surgery and my interests in artistic creation are independent, noncommunicating personality features that are unrelated and ...

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I was somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, heading to Ukraine “to make a difference,” or so I hoped. I was leading a medical mission to this beautiful yet poor and war-torn country. I was watching the movie First Man about the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon that epic day in July 1969. I was not quite 14 years of age at that time, but I vividly remember the ...

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Quick, think of someone unrelated to you who has had a major impact on your life. I’d wager the vast majority of us pictured a face or two, and that nearly all (I hope) represented a positive influence. In my thirty-plus-year career in medicine, I’ve been blessed with several, and their impact on my life and career is truly inestimable. As a smart kid who went to medical school because it’s ...

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I complain about the state of U.S. health care a lot. It's not driven by quality. It's expensive. It's corporatized. It undervalues and commoditizes clinical workers. It's too controlled by insurance companies. It's riddled with racial, educational, and socio-economic disparities. I could, and often do, go on and on. But the other night, I was called in to do a bilateral lung transplant for an exquisitely ill, but rather young woman. Her OR ...

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Medical specialties, especially within the medical community, are known to be identified as comedic stereotypes of themselves. In addition to (or in conjunction with) being viewed as lazy, anesthesiologists are often stereotyped as being obstructionists to the operating room.  A spot-on joke generated during the "first" COVID-19 surge in March of 2020 was in reference to Jerome Adams: “First Anesthesiologist Surgeon General, recommends canceling all elective cases.” For better or worse, the ...

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I didn’t receive an offer to study medicine after graduating. Despite my best efforts, I’d fallen short. But what happened next made me realize the mistake I’d been making. For a while, I thought I wanted to be a scientist. After graduating from high school, my thirst for knowledge was at an all-time high. And without an offer to study medicine, I enrolled in what I thought was my next passion, science. Studying ...

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A moment in medical school that left a huge impression on me was when we had chairman's rounds with the department of medicine's chair.  He was a renowned breast oncologist and researcher and described a bit of his process when interacting with a patient. The process he had developed over his years of experience was so fine-tuned that there was not a single movement, action, word, or breath that was ...

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The recent controversy and backlash surrounding Kamala Harris’s Vogue cover shows that it is still fashionable to diminish powerful women.  It also is the latest example of the sad fact that no matter how far we have come, women are still held to a different standard—by both men and women. As a female vascular surgeon, I have spent my career pushing back on ideas about what ...

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We all think we know what a bruise looks like. Black and blue, brownish around the edges. But depending on the circumstances, the same bruise can look different from one person to another. To a well-loved child who skinned her knee, a bruise might look like a bad memory of an epic tree-climb attempt. To a patient with diabetes, a similar bruise might look like the onset of a life-threatening emergency. ...

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Like many surgical specialties, the one I was aspiring to is a male-dominated field. As such, all my colleagues were male, and I often felt as though I was trying to be a part of a boy’s club. I shed my intrinsic femininity and instead equipped myself with diplomacy, banter, a light-hearted attitude, and contagious enthusiasm. I knew nothing about the footy, and I hated beer, but I was witty, I ...

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I began pursuing a career in medicine with the fervent desire to become a neurosurgeon one day. When someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered neurosurgeon without missing a beat. I chose neurosurgery in high school after falling in love with the nervous system and watching Gifted Hands. I wanted to be like Dr. Ben Carson before his political debut. At that point, ...

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"Today and for the foreseeable future, COVID-19 is a serious threat, virulent and contagious, not only leading to an impressive display of human vulnerability and arrogance, but also demonstrating how innovative and creative humans can be during a time of crisis. On a daily basis, I am inspired by the outpouring of courage, ...

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“The nipples are equal and reactive” is a phrase I came across in the physical exam section of a note that I had dictated, courtesy of my Dragon.  I have a Dragon.  Not a cool Game of Thrones dragon, heroically swooping in at a critical moment, but a program that recognizes my voice and transcribes it into comically broken English in my patient’s medical record. At times, my Dragon has ...

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"I recently represented a physician in a noteworthy peer review case at an academic medical center. The medical staff president initiated a complaint against a surgeon, who would later become my client. The complaint was that the surgeon inappropriately collected cash payment from an uninsured patient at the hospital’s point of ...

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On a recent trauma call, we had a busy night, culminating in a horrific motorcycle trauma that came in early in the morning. The patient had devastating injuries and ended up dying. The detectives finally tracked down the patient’s family. I cleaned myself up, put on my white coat and had the family sit down in a private conference room. I entered with my trauma attending and a consulting specialist, ...

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I have never felt so alone. I was lying in bed with severe abdominal pain. Pain I never had before. Well, at least not for a reason. As I lay there, I kept thinking, what if I die while I wait until morning. It was the middle of the night. I had not felt well since earlier the week before with a severe diarrheal illness. One that only babies have with ...

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When you flick a domino, a chain reaction is inevitable. Joseph Epstein succeeded in creating such a reaction. His inflammatory Wall Street Journal op-ed deriding Dr. Jill Biden’s academic title has become a call to arms across the social media landscape. The armies of Twitter and Facebook have assembled across the pixelated landscape. Hasty battle plans in forum posts are drawn, ignoring the decorum of discourse ...

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Whether or not you’re a health care provider, chances are you’ve spent the year thinking, talking, and reading about health care.  We’ve had national conversations about everything from the global pandemic to rising health care costs to rationing resources to the politicization of medicine.

Much less discussed—but very much affected by all of this—is the unintended consequences the pandemic has had on our medical students and residents.  In March, ...

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"Studies have repeatedly demonstrated a vast majority of pain physicians don’t feel like they have adequate training in meeting the unique needs of this patient population, though most agree that such efforts are very necessary. This disconnect between demand and supply is a problem, a big one. With the current pandemic stretching ...

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Imagine turning off your pager forever. If you are a solo-practitioner on call 24 hours a day, I suspect this thought has crossed your mind. Coordinating time off for vacation, being constantly interrupted at your children's recital or athletic event, and even making it home to prepare dinner represent common challenges in this setting. A particular obstacle as a solo-practitioner involves the difficulty of running a small business - a ...

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