Do the Opinions of a Non-practicing Physician have Merit?

Do the Opinions of a Non-practicing Physician have Merit?

The worth of an opinion is the worth of the man or woman delivering it.

Given the competitive streak that’s deep in the bone of every physician, it is inevitable that many doctors on the verge of moving away from the clinical arena will wonder if they’ll have an audience any more.

If we’ve spent 20, 30 or 40 years with people eager to hear your point of view, it would take a Zen master ego to calmly walk away, unfettered by thoughts that you might be viewed as over the hill, out of touch or redundant. If you proffer an opinion you may in turn worry about the reaction of colleagues still yielding their stethoscope.

Realistically, your only concern will be with any negatives they might express – such as:
1. Some blend of not practicing/out of touch/chip on shoulder.
2. Not practicing thus free to pontificate.
3. No longer a member of the team; don’t care what he/she thinks.

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Doctor-Patient Interactions, not Transactions

Doctor-Patient Interactions, not Transactions

Borrowing from business parlance to describe the diverse elements involved in optimum healthcare provision is fraught with peril. We need our own lexicon.

I’ve spent much of March traveling, accounting for my sporadic writing as my hypothalamus shut down after an excess of traversing oceans and continents.

A month sleeping at home and grinding my own coffee beans in the morning has appeal, but there’ll be particular satisfaction in avoiding the misery of airline travel which some time ago passed beyond the ‘benign decay’ part of the deterioration curve and now officially qualifies as truly abysmal.

Returning from California two days ago, we were offered the opportunity of paying a supplemental $136 for 5 extra inches of legroom on a flight from LAX to Detroit. I passed, not even caring to know whether it was $136 each (probably), rather laughing at the absurdity of my 61 inch tall missus needing the extra space anyway. Are we going to be strap-hanging in midair next?

Besides it was obscure to me how 5 more inches of legroom was going to compensate for the foul air, the hardness of the seat, and lavatories that are surely too small for 30% of the American populace.

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Helping Physicians Balance Life at Home & Work

Helping Physicians Balance Life at Home & Work

Being told to balance my life at home and at work better smacks of one more platitude. How exactly do I set about doing this? Suggesting to a physician that they examine their balance of responsibilities at home and work is like telling a patient with a bad head cold to take a cup of hot non-caffeinated tea and get a good nights sleep. You get a “you mean that’s it” look, and realize you’ve been dismissed as an amateur. I refer to it as the “remembering things your mother told you” solution.

You’ve never met my rock-of-sense almost 84-year old mother, but I’ve certainly tried hard in recent years to reflect on her lessons rather than those of my hyper-competitive and workaholic physician father dead now these 16 years. If I were to ask my mother to help you balance your professional responsibilities as a physician with your personal life this is pretty much what she’d say.

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Changing Doctor’s Attitude

Changing Doctor’s Attitude

Wistful reminiscences of life in medicine years ago are recollections of what was best and easiest well pruned of all the shortcomings.

None of us like to be told we need to fix our attitude. With me it’s like hearing a nail on a blackboard – all my defenses are instantly brought to bear; I want to grimace and put my hands over my ears to ward the effect off. We feel undervalued, unappreciated, misunderstood. It takes a pliable ego to stand one’s ground, hear out the criticism or complaint and give it a fair appraisal.

Much that ails the medical profession these days is about how we choose to perceive the world about us. We’ve never had it better in terms of the number of clinical, technological and scientific advances that allow us improve the lives of our patients. We’ve never had easier access to information whether that be tapping into new knowledge, or reaching colleagues who may advise you on a clinical dilemma. We can communicate more easily with our patients who are also better informed.

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Healer or Technocrat

A focus on technical and scientific advances in patient care takes us ever farther from our role as healers.

Mary was my first ever patient. I’m calling her Mary, though in truth I don’t remember her name. She was 70 if a day, I barely 21, in the first month of my clinical clerkships, proud of myself in my still clean new white coat. She snoozed, an early afternoon snooze, in a sunny corner bed by a window in Dr. Barnaville’s female ward.

A decade or so earlier Mary had undergone an alcohol injection into her gasserian ganglion to alleviate trigeminal neuralgia, a procedure that left her with some facial anesthesia and eventual return of her pain. Significant worsening of this pain had led to a hospitalization to try some different medications. The resident told me to examine her cranial nerves.

Prior to entering the ward I sat on a hard wooden bench in the corridor carefully reading how to examine the cranial nerves in the pocket version of McLeod’s “Clinical Examination”. As bushy-tailed as my white coat was bright, I moved from Olfactory through to Hypoglossal, felt confident, and entered the door.

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Of Pharmacists and Passive-Aggressive Blogs

Of Pharmacists and Passive-Aggressive Blogs

Do a simple google search with the search terms pharmacy and blog and you will find that the top results feature sites such as The Angry Pharmacist and Your Pharmacist May Hate You. The fact that these blogs are listed so prominently has much to do with their popularity. Having followed these blogs for I while, I suspect that their authors’ rants and raves strike a chord with many pharmacists who can identify with their experiences and viewpoints. Being unequivocally controversial probably doesn’t hurt their popularity either.

On further searching I came upon another site, this one ranking the top 50 pharmacy blogs in the blogosphere. If you take a glance at this list you will notice one interesting pattern in the blog titles. I already alluded to this above, but to clarify many of these blogs have the word Pharmacy or Pharmacist in the title combined with some colorful adjectives.

Some examples include angry, angriest, frantic, slave, pissed, soul-sucking, and politically incorrect. I wish many of my naive peers in pharmacy school would take a look of some of these blogs to get an idea of what they are potentially getting into as pharmacists. In all seriousness, these bloggers make pharmacy seem like a profession heading downhill hell.

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