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Reflections On Joy

“Mrs. C**, how are you doing?”

She left the wheel chair in the waiting room, smiling “I’ll show you.”

She dances nimbly down the hallway to the exam room, having lost her forty pound apron a week ago. Her laughter is infectious.

“Let’s get rid of these drains.”

**Not her real name.

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Choices, Stick-Chasing, And Finding Joy

One late afternoon, some summers ago, I was at the beach.

I was with our dog, a Labrador retriever.  He was playing fetch with a stick I was throwing into the ocean.  Every time I threw it, he darted into the ocean to find it.  Swimming through the waves, he would get the stick and carry it

back proudly to shore.  He would drop it in front of me, shake off some of the water soaking his coat, and stare at me, heaving, begging me to throw it in again.

We did this for a while, and it was always the same.  He was joyous.  Eventually I had to stop, even though I loved

seeing him that way.  He would have kept doing it until he drowned.

I realized something else as I was watching him.

He was so happy because jumping into the North Atlantic to retrieve things is what he was born to do.

Now, people are much more complicated than dogs. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Taking Joy In The Little Things

The past few days have shown me some small pleasures of my practice.  I spent about 20 minutes sewing together the hand and forehead of a sweet elderly lady who fell down while being evacuated from a nursing home fire.  Her skin, like tissue, came together in fragile folds; my hands moved easily with the needle and thread thanks to so many years of practice, so many hundreds of feet of sutures placed.  Although I must admit that my cataract-stricken right eye left my depth perception imperfect in a way that bonded me to her.  (Sitting here, with no reading glasses, I can close my left eye and all I see is a hint of lines on the page, but no letters.)

My sweet little lady smiled at me, nervously, tentatively, but was comforted at the prospect of  going back to her bed.  Her son eased her fear with  jokes, then took her home. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

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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