What is health care like on the front lines?
Across the political spectrum, politicians, providers, patients and their loved ones agree that health care is broken. The great question of our time is why can the richest country in the world not take care of its people in an equitable and sustainable way? Front line health care workers have largely been absent from that conversation. Through my work, I hope to add my voice and the voice of others reporting what health care is really like.
From the ground up.
As healthcare workers, we are problem solvers. We have to be. There are a handful of people whose lives I have saved with quick thinking. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. But wanting to jump to a solution means we sometimes fail to listen, to sit with a friend, patient, or colleague, and be a companion in their suffering.
After so many years on this path, who was I?
I now know that everything that I was taught about opioids was wrong.
One young man told me his kid will spend her first father's day without him as he struggles to get sober. The pain on his face almost cracked me open. Sometimes in my work I stumble on a kind of sadness I will never experience, one that pulls at the edges of my heart until my whole world opens up.
In-flight emergencies are just another reminder that you're never not a doctor.
Residency’s long hours, trauma, sleeplessness and social isolation inevitably erode our healthy coping mechanisms. At the same time, there is a powerful culture of fear, stigma and lack of self-care that prevents residents from seeking help. The resources that are in place in residency programs are simply not adequate.
The sweet talk I learned about graphs and risk/benefit ratios in medical school seems frankly ineffective in the face of your friend’s Twitter rant. Appointment after appointment, I've had trouble conveying my enthusiasm for the flu shot to the unconverted.
I don't believe in grand conspiracies. I do however believe in the undue influence of money on our clinical decision making.
To get an education, this young man was putting himself at risk of chronic pain and traumatic brain injury because it was the only path he saw open to him. I prayed he would be benched.
Medicine has long been a career path in the US for women in science, with women entering the field in nearly equal numbers to men for 20 years. But along the way, many women fail to advance and to earn the same recognition and salaries as their male counterparts. These differences are often framed as “individual failures”, in spite of the robust evidence of gender discrimination. Women are told to advocate for themselves, to be better negotiators, and, in private, not have children if they are going to succeed.
Sign up here to receive bimonthly emails with my writing and some of best writing, podcasts, and art work on medicine on the internet.