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Faith, Fitness, And The Principle Of Daily Self-Improvement

Since March I’ve been working out with a fitness instructor. She is the toughest, most motivated coach I’ve ever known. Sadly, today was our last day together because she’s beginning maternity leave and I’m moving out of the area. I was reflecting on what made her such a great trainer, and I think the essence was her undying belief in everyone’s ability to improve. Each exercise was a chance to do better than last time — to perfect one’s form, do one more repetition, or to slow the speed of a lift or increase the resistance involved.

She never let me slack — she told me she believed in me, that I could do better, and that she didn’t care how many reps I did, I had to do them the right way. There were times that I just wanted an “easy” workout, or when I’d ask for understanding: “Klaudia, can we ease up on the cardio a bit today, I just ate lunch?” I’d ask. “That’s okay,” she’d smile, “I have a bucket for you right here if you need it.”

Frequently she’d time me racing repeatedly up and down seven flights of stairs… Read more »

Frosty The Snowman’s Heart And The Last Tomato Standing

snowmanLike a good Rochesterian (Rochester, NY that is), my husband decided to shovel the snow off our balcony after the 2-foot-deep deposits threatened to melt into our condo’s window cracks. I was comfortably blogging away in our living room when I looked up to find Mr. DrVal had built me a miniature snowman, complete with a heart made from the last tomato of our now fully dead Roma tomato plant.

A few amazing things about this photo: 1) How can ripe tomatoes still be growing at the end of December in Washington, DC? 2) How did he get Frosty’s hat to stay on his head? 3) How did he find my secret scrub stash and why did he wear them out to shovel snow?

Anyway – I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a rather charming and creative way to spend a Sunday after a snowstorm. But watch out, Frosty: I’d like to eat your heart out!

DC Snowstorm Photos

balconysnowHow deep is the snow? Judging by my balcony, at least a foot and a half. I asked Mr. DrVal to demonstrate for you with a tape measure – of course, our mischevious kitty, Ona (full name is Ona Riss Kitty) wanted to be in the photo as well.

I caught these guys (second photo) digging out a Politico newspaper vending machine. Seemed like a very DC thing to do.

Of course, having grown up in Canada, the snow storm didn’t faze me much. I ventured out to get a salad, some frozen yogurt, and to see the movie Avatar. That was well worth the walk to the theater (saw it in all its 3-D wonder)!

Mr. DrVal summed it up with his usual dry wit, “It’s The Lion King meets An Inconvenient Truth.”

Please go see it though – the effects are really amazing.

All in a winter’s day…


Dr. Val Tells ABC News About Hospital Errors And How To Avoid Them

I kick off this segment with a surprising twist: I describe a hospital error that I experienced as a patient in the ER of a famous academic medical center.  And yes, I give a shout out to Paul Levy at minute 5 for his courageous efforts to reduce infection rates at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The Other Reason Why Medical Malpractice Reform Is Critical

There hasn’t been much discussion about serious tort reform in the current healthcare reform debate. That’s probably because most policy experts don’t believe it will make a significant dent in healthcare costs. I happen to believe that tort reform would be a huge boon for healthcare (just ask Ob/Gyns in Texas) and save a lot in defensive medicine practices and unnecessary testing, but even if I’m wrong and it wouldn’t result in cost-savings, there’s another issue at play: access to primary care physicians.

We all agree that we’re in the midst of a major shortage in primary care physicians. Many different solutions have been proposed – everything from “let the nurses do it” to forgiving medical school loans to physicians who choose primary care as a career. However, solving the PCP shortage isn’t just about recruitment, it’s about retention. And with up to a half of PCPs saying that practice conditions are so unbearable they’re planning to quit in the next 2 years – Houston, we have a problem. Read more »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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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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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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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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