Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

A Thank You A Day…

This is a guest post by Dr. John Schumann.


I just read the book “365 Thank Yous” by John Kralik. I heard an interview with the author on NPR and it caught my attention.

Kralik had been down on his luck in 2007: Divorced twice, overweight, with a struggling law firm that he’d started, he was also failing in a new romantic relationship. He was worried about losing his seven-year-old daughter, too, in a custody dispute.

He made a momentous decision: Instead of feeling sorry for himself (easy to do given his predicaments), he decided to be grateful for what he had. To show it, he vowed to write a thank-you note every day for the next year. What do you think happened?

His life changed for the better. His relationship improved. His clients started paying their bills and his firm’s financial footing solidified. His health improved. He eventually achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a judge. To top it off, he turned his personal quest into a writing project. Within minutes of writing a book proposal, he received responses from agents who hoped to shepherd his project. Every writer’s dream.

I’ll grant you that it sounds hokey. But there are a couple of things the book demonstrated to me. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Patient Safety: “Are You Safe?” Awareness Video

Today [Aug 28] I’m participating in the workshop “Engaging Minority Communities in Safer Healthcare” organized by MITSS (Medically Induced Trauma Support Services), a Boston non-profit I’ve written about before.

The current speaker is Lisa O’Connor, VP of Nursing at Boston Medical Center. She just showed this four-minute safety awareness video, produced by Quantros. Much of its content will be familiar to our readers here (the frequency of medical errors and hospital acquired infections), but I’m posting it because of its good, concrete, specific actions every patient should know.

The part with specific actions for patients starts around 2:30. (My highlights are below.) Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Single-Session Psychotherapy: The Cab Driver Story

Here’s a story that came out of the American Psychological Association (APA) conference:

I was in a cab going to dinner. The cab driver found out I was a psychiatrist so he told me about his life-changing experience with therapy.

At one time he was having an incredible problem with his life. He was using cocaine, couldn’t keep a job, and his relationships were going down the tubes. Therapy helped him quit cocaine and change all that. (Which was good, since he was the driver of my cab. I really wanted him not to be high or in distress.) This kind of turn-around story isn’t unusual for me — parolees will often come back and tell me about things they’ve done in free society that they’re proud of. The unusual part of this story is the fact that he made all of these changes after a single one-hour session. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Just Rest

“I’m tired,” I recently told a friend. He looked at me with a hint of a smile and gave the obvious answer: “Then you need to rest.”

This simple yet elusive answer hit me squarely. I spend a large portion of my life being tired, yet I don’t know how to rest. Sure, I waste a lot of time doing things that are unproductive, but they’re more of a distraction or an escape — they aren’t about rest. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »