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Latest Posts

Saved By Dance: One Doctor’s Story Of Burnout And Recovery

By Susan Biali, M.D.

Ten years ago, I was an emergency medicine resident and wanted to die. Today, I’m a general practitioner in part-time practice and in love with life. What made the difference? I signed up for a dance class.

Reports on physician burnout list the personality traits that set us up for trouble: we’re excessively conscientious, feel overly responsible, want to please everyone, and function on an extremely high level –- even if we’re overloaded, exhausted, or our personal life is falling apart. We burn out because we bend over backwards to help others, until something (like our minds or our health or our marriages) finally snaps. Now imagine this: what if we took some of that deep caring and hyper-responsibility, and turned it on ourselves?

When my depression hit bottom and I became a serious risk to myself and my patients, my chief resident asked me to take a stress leave. On impulse I went on a solo tropical vacation and one night at the resort, as I watched an exuberant group of salsa dancers burning up the stage, my eyes filled with tears. I suddenly remembered that when I was a little girl, I practiced incessantly in the basement to my ABBA records, preparing myself for the moment that I would live my dream and finally become a “Solid Gold Dancer.” That night, in that darkened tropical theater, I knew how I would save my life. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

Chest Pain: It’s Hard To Figure Out Which Patients Have Dangerous Pathology

Seems like I’ve been on a real run of chest pain patients lately.  Which is fine — it’s part of the gig.  I did have a very interesting pair the other night.  They were seen in sequence, right next to one another, in room 7 and room 8.  They were both totally healthy women in their mid-fifties.  And they were both over-the-edge, crazy, crawling-out-of-the-gurney anxious.

Anxiety is an awful red herring in the work-up of chest pain.  People who are having an anxiety attack often if not always manifest some chest pain (pressure, tightness, whatever) as a prominent symptom of their anxiety.  On the other hand, someone having a heart attack who is experiencing chest pain will also be anxious — and for good reason! Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Top Five Signs of Common Mental Health Conditions

Disorders like depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and bipolar disorder all have warning signs. If you are concerned about these signs in yourself or others, talk to a trusted adult and get help!

Clinical Depression

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia and trouble sleeping almost every night
  • Unable to focus on even simple activities
  • Extremely low energy
  • Loss of interest in things you normally enjoy Read more »

This post, Top Five Signs of Common Mental Health Conditions, was originally published on Healthine.com by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

All Teens Under Pressure To Be Above Average

My heart is going out to teens these days, especially in my high-achieving community. It seems school districts and parents alike have lost the sense that “average” is really OK, and in some cases, much healthier than “above average.”

An emotional goal of adolescence is to answer the question “who am I” acquiring self-certainty as opposed to self-consciousness and self-doubt. Most teens approach life expecting to succeed and achieve their goals rather than being paralyzed by feelings of inferiority. On a normal path, adolescents seek out people who inspire them and gradually develop a set of ideals and goals for their future. This is all perfectly normal, and if all goes well, teens become young women and young men who believe they can do whatever they set their minds to and are willing to work hard enough for. This process gets stunted if the expectations set for them are unreasonable. Read more »

This post, All Teens Under Pressure To Be Above Average, was originally published on Healthine.com by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

The Friday Funny: Real Pet Therapy

pettherapy

Latest Interviews

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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How To Make Inpatient Medical Practice Fun Again: Try Locum Tenens Work

It s no secret that most physicians are unhappy with the way things are going in healthcare. Surveys report high levels of job dissatisfaction burn out and even suicide. In fact some believe that up to a third of the US physician work force is planning to leave the profession…

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Latest Book Reviews

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

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