Death is a blessing in its right time and place

I am working hospitalist right now. On Friday, a man in his 80s was admitted with difficulty breathing. He had a complicated history, including a heart attack at age 35 with all the subsequent sequela of heart disease. He had an abnormal heart rhythm and was taking a blood thinner for stroke prevention. In addition, […]

Sleeping with the enemy: When a physician dates an administrator

“I’m going to write a column about dating you and call it ‘Sleeping with the Enemy,’” I announced from my rocking chair. His rocking stopped. “The enemy?” The rain was falling on the trees in front of my porch and on his parade. “Why am I the enemy?” “You know, clinicians vs. hospital administrators.” “Really?” […]

A physician-mother on maternity leave learns how she can’t ignore her job

The stretcher was wheeled into the operating room.  I had been in this room on three prior occasions, under very different circumstances. But today, as I lay flat on the table, listening to the small talk around me, I tried to breathe against the weight of the baby and the pressure of the procedure.  My […]

Angry? Welcome to being a doctor. And here’s how to fix it.

It will start as a minor curiosity. Maybe a student will seem slightly too close to the resident on your team. When the grades are posted, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get honors, but he did. You might wallow for a few days. Make an offhanded comment to your fellow students. Then you’ll let it […]

What this physician learned from being an ailing patient

I felt a gust of sharp pain a couple of centimeters to the right of my belly button. It will subside, I thought. All pain subsides. It was an easy dictum to follow as a 39-year-old pediatric eye doc who last spent a night in the hospital as a patient in 1977. I’d undergone bilateral […]

Why many patients are afraid to come to the clinic

The young woman sat in the corner of my exam room, facing away from me as I asked her questions. Her answers were short. “I’m from El Salvador.” Why did she come? “Because of the violence.” Her voice was flat. Her hands trembled. I knew she had suffered terribly and I needed to ask her […]

In the hospital? Here are 7 things you must keep in mind.

Being in a hospital is a scary and frightening time, and it’s easy for those of us at the frontlines — doctors and nurses — to forget that as we go about our busy work days. Patients are at a very low point in their lives and will remember everything about their hospital stay, including […]

Physicians are financially illiterate and it’s time for that to change

Despite above average intelligence and work ethic, the average physician is an absolute imbecile when it comes to the topics of personal finance, investing, and business. The lack of expertise on these critical life topics is having a dramatic effect not only on the financial lives of physicians but also their rates of burnout and […]

Hospitals should quit alienating pregnant health care consumers

When Barbara (name changed) recently underwent her fourth Cesarean section, she was appalled by the care she received during her recovery.  Her catheter overflowed, and a CNA asked her to check her own incision.  When the CNA asked if she was breastfeeding her baby, Barbara replied tearfully that she couldn’t lift her out the bassinette.  […]

I am grateful to Doctor Barbie

Doctor Barbie has a laptop. She comes with other accessories, like a white lab coat and stethoscope of course, but one of her largest and most prominent medical tools is her laptop. As a pediatrician’s daughter, my child selected doctor Barbie from the aisle of infinite Barbie options because she knew I was most likely […]

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