20 things I am thankful to nurses for as an oncologist

jason lycette photo blooms

In recognition of National Nurses Week: Thank you to nurses for: staying behind in the room with patients and families after we deliver difficult news, not letting us shirk the tough questions, professionalism in the most difficult of circumstances, being partners in care, remembering what size gloves we wear, the phrase, “Doctor, I think you … Read more20 things I am thankful to nurses for as an oncologist

5 things physicians might not know about compassion fatigue, but should.

For many physicians, the term “compassion fatigue” may imply, as the words describe, that fatigue leads to the loss of ability to feel compassion for others.  After all, what physician doesn’t have a day when s/he is too tired, running on too little reserve, and feeling some degree of emotional numbness? Many physicians may not … Read more5 things physicians might not know about compassion fatigue, but should.

Why your doctor is running late: A Mad Libs

Astoria-Megler Bridge emerging from the fog

(A facetious piece.  Inspired my my kids’ love of Mad Libs) Directions (in case you’ve never played Mad Libs): Play with a friend or colleague. Ask them to say a word for each type of word specified. Read the story using their words to fill in the blanks. Or play on your own, skip down … Read moreWhy your doctor is running late: A Mad Libs

Finding grace: an oncology patient’s impact on her doctor.

pelican majestic over shipwreck beach, OR

(published also online on 4/10/17 in The ASCO Post, under the title The Mystery of Grace.  re-published here with permission of the editor).   The day after I told Nell she had seven metastases to her brain, she sent me flowers. She was my patient; I was her oncologist. I had met her 1 year prior, … Read moreFinding grace: an oncology patient’s impact on her doctor.

The invisible burden of the oncologist

The return from a vacation weighed on me physically.  This had been a true vacation – an entire week away from clinic and spent with my family.  I even managed to unplug to the point of only checking email on my phone twice per day – really!

The tension that years ago took up permanent residence in my shoulders had faded away without my noticing, so that when I awoke to its sudden return, I realized that for one wonderful week I had almost become used to its absence.  Almost…

Read moreThe invisible burden of the oncologist

The top 3 hidden rewards of practicing oncology in a small community.

There is a shortage of rural physicians in the U.S.  My specialty, medical oncology, is but one of many specialties where the shortage is especially glaring. In oncology, I think there is perhaps a fear of practicing outside the walls of a large tertiary center and leaving behind the established framework and boundaries between the doctor and patient. I know it was a fear of mine when I moved to a rural community to practice nearly 4 years ago…

Read moreThe top 3 hidden rewards of practicing oncology in a small community.

On bearing witness: an oncologist’s role at end of life.

My patient was sitting in a wheelchair.  He was in his mid-forties, and before the cancer, had held a physically demanding job that he loved.  Now, the cancer in his spine had ended not only his ability to work, but any ability to use his legs…

Read moreOn bearing witness: an oncologist’s role at end of life.

On perceptions of female physicians: from planes to preschools.

I recently read on kevinmd.com the accounts of women physicians who attempted to help passengers in air flight emergencies and were incredulously pushed aside and not allowed to provide emergency care.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Physicians blocked from providing emergency medical care because the flight attendants didn’t believe they were physicians — we can only assume based on their appearance…

Read moreOn perceptions of female physicians: from planes to preschools.

On meaningful use: the EMR versus the patient’s needs.

Mr. X. is a man in his 80s who was cured of his cancer, but at what cost.

The biologic therapy and radiation which eradicated the cancer left him with the inability to swallow and need for permanent PEG tube.  Due to overall frailty and multiple comorbidities, he never graduated from the SNF and continues to reside there today…

Read moreOn meaningful use: the EMR versus the patient’s needs.

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