Healthcare has changed dramatically over the past fifty years. Theories abound as to the various causes and their effects – with managed care, the Generation X work ethic, and increased numbers of women in medicine being three commonly cited reasons for the decline of the traditional “family doc” who made house-calls and whose work hours were 24/7 as needed and the steep increase in the “physician shift worker” who figuratively clocks in and out and leaves his pager behind when he is off duty. Managed care brought financial pressures to bear on physicians in solo practice. Generation X brought a tide of newly graduated physicians whose definition of balance was quite different from that of their parents’ generation.Read More
And so begins a New York Times article about the recent JAMA Internal Medicine analysis of physician pay disparities. The central message of the analysis is that women in healthcare, on average, earn $20,000 less per year than their specialty-matched male colleagues.Read More
Preparing to meet my next patient, I pick the next chart up off the counter. “Bob Smith,” married middle-aged patient, chief complaint: STD check. “Weird,” I think, “Mary Smith’s husband’s name is Bob, too. What a coincidence.” I open the exam room door, and Mary Smith’s husband, Bob Smith, is sitting inside.Read More
It was a relatively slow evening at work when I got the text. My phone vibrated on the clinic countertop as I was looking over a chart. “Are you busy? Can you talk?” I figured those words couldn’t be good, coming as they did from a young intern I mentored when she was a medical student. I found myself wondering if she had lost a patient.Read More
I sometimes feel pretty low. I might be the only one…but I’m guessing not. Emotions are a part of what it is to be human, right? So, I imagine all of us feel down at one time or another. For me, the first couple of weeks after the holidays are always a down time. Something about coming off the merry-go-round of activity, fun, people, parties, food, drinks and general busyness, taking down the decorations and returning to real life. This year, those feelings were compounded by sending two kids back to college and then being in bed for a week with the flu (despite my flu shot!). What a return to reality.Read More
In medical school, were you taught to treat all patients with equal care and concern? Were you taught that it is unethical to discriminate against patients—refusing to treat someone or treating them less thoroughly—based on race, nationality, religion or even ability to pay? Were you taught to respect the beliefs of each patient, even while trying to explain how some of those beliefs might be harming their health?Read More
Waiting…I’m terrible at it. My guess is I’m not the only one. In fact, among an audience of healthcare professionals, I feel certain the terrible wait-ers make up the majority. We are generally goal-oriented, focused, committed, get-her-done sort of people. Just the sort of people for whom waiting is an agony.Read More
I’m guessing (and hoping) that I’m not the only one…not the only WIMD-er who sometimes runs into identity issues with being a woman doctor/dentist…not the only one whose kids’ friends can’t remember to call her “doctor”…not the only one whose patients sometimes express their concern about whether or not I’m old enough or practiced enough (or male enough?) to take care of them…not the only one whose kids have been told by someone “only boys can be doctors.”Read More
How many times have you gone to clinic when you were sicker than the patients you were treating? Listened to other people’s woes and stresses when your own were weightier? Given your last emotional resources to a patient whose need was less than your family member’s? Forfeited sleep while advising a patient of how curative it is? Advised a patient about nutrition and exercise right after scarfing a quick lunch from the vending machine?Read More
My eldest child left for college this fall, having chosen to attend school in Scotland. Yes, that’s right. Scotland. It’s a long way away. It’s also a place I had never previously visited. We went on a family trip to Scotland in March—partly to visit the school he now attends, and partly to have one last bang-up family vacation before we became a family that no longer lives under one roof. On that trip, we had not one, but two, flat tires on our rental car. A consequence of our struggles driving on the left side of the road, perhaps?Read More
I was looking up some information on the American Association for Physician Leadership website when an article caught my eye: “Are You a Narcissist?” I hadn’t decided what I was going to blog about this month; not surprisingly, narcissism was not on the list of things I was considering. But the article piqued my interest, so I clicked on the link and read the entire thing. There was even a quiz I could use to find out if I am a narcissist. You will be relieved to know I “passed” the quiz with a non-narcissist score! That was reassuring, but I was curious as to why this article interested me so much.Read More
As a second year medical student, a member of my medical school class committed suicide. I didn’t know him well, but his death impacted me. Made me ask a lot of questions. Why didn’t I know him better? Had I gotten to know him, could I have made a difference?Read More
According to a 2009 article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, “Approximately 10% to 12% of physicians will develop a substance use disorder during their careers, a rate similar to or exceeding that of the general population.” But while our addiction rate may be similar to the rest of the country, the characteristics and consequences of our addictions are not.Read More
Doctors have had a bad rap on the marriage front for a number of years. We’ve long been accused of having a much higher divorce rate than the general public. For many years, there was not a lot of data on healthcare marriages, but strongly held popular opinion characterized a high percentage of us as overworked divorcees whose devotion to our patients cost us our marriages.Read More
I look across the table as Ashley* tells me that there are things no one knows about her, and that her Christian friends would never accept her if they knew . . . that she can’t really believe that God can accept her, since He knows. For some reason, she decided to share them with me.Read More
Dr. Autumn Dawn Galbreath explores what a variety of secular physicians have to say about praying with patients in the exam room. It’s a topic that is vastly important to Christian healthcare professionals. Not surprisingly, there was a wide range of options among secular physicians.Read More
Are you as a healthcare professional too harried, too rushed, too focused and too overworked to find true joy in your chosen profession? Not just happiness or contentment, but true joy. Dr. Autumn Dawn Galbreath discusses this topic in this week’s blog post for The Point.Read More
So began Dr. Ann Tsen’s journey from clinical practice to a nontraditional career. She is not alone in her dissatisfaction with some aspects of medical practice and her search for an alternative career path. Many physicians at varying stages of life are finding themselves considering alternative career paths—often, much to their own surprise.Read More
Healthcare has changed dramatically over the past fifty years. Theories abound as to the various causes and their effects – with managed care, the Generation X work ethic, and increased numbers of women in medicine being three commonly cited reasons for the decline of the traditional “family doc” who made house-calls and whose work hours were 24/7 as needed and the steep increase in the “physician shift worker” who figuratively clocks in and out and leaves his pager behind when he is off duty.Read More
How does a Christian measure the substance of a life? By what was accumulated? Not hardly. At least no serious Christ-follower is going to pick that answer. What about by influence? Now that is something that may resonate. By influencing others, we carry on our earthly work beyond our lifetime.Read More
The story of the gene-edited babies birthed in China continues to reverberate around the world. To review, the Chinese scientist He Jiankui disclosed in late 2018 that he had used gene editing tools to create genetically-modified human embryos, and he then gestated the embryos to birth. He discussed his experiments on the twin girls at an international genetics meeting co-sponsored by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. While most of the scientific community condemned the experiments, some of the outrage seemed feigned. Nonetheless, in the months following his announcement, there were calls from leading scientists and ethicists for a global moratorium on human heritable genome editing and wide-ranging discussions on the ethics of manipulating the human genome. Over 60 global leaders wrote to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, saying “We write as scientific, industry, and bioethics leaders who are committed to translating the promise of gene editing into medicines to help patients in need, to express our views strongly condemning the recent reports of the birth of CRISPR-edited infants in China and to urge you to take action.”Read More
Free trade between Canada and the United States has been a reality since the 1980s. Thaddeus Pope, on his Medical Futility Blog, recently posted a video that shows a Canadian female physician who obviously wishes to export a dangerous idea to her southern neighbor. Although Canada does not hold the corner on the market of assisted suicide or euthanasia, Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD) in Canada is not an import we need in the United States.Read More
Yesterday I attended a seminar at our hospital entitled “Immigration Ethics.” I was hoping to be enlightened on this complicated topic. Unfortunately, the only messages I got were that immigrants are people, too, and we should be humane in dealing with them. I heartily agree with these two points, but the issue is complex and entails a number of points on which many people cannot agree. One major question in discussing this is whether we are referring to legally documented or undocumented immigrants. Most of us are grateful for the legal, highly skilled immigrant engineers, scientists and physicians who make our lives better in many ways.Read More
This month’s blog provides updates on two Christian Medical & Dental Associations federal lawsuits. The following case updates are information and help for healthcare professionals who have experienced discrimination on the basis of their faith and conscience.Read More
Medical breakthroughs are routinely touted in the media, whether they are actual breakthroughs or promising, potential information. Press outlets often make no distinction between real, evidence-based progress that can impact patients versus wished-for projections that can influence funding of projects. Rarely are the ethical choices noted regarding use, or development, of the research.Read More
I recently spoke outside the Supreme Court in the face of raucous protests on the day of oral arguments in a case involving transgender individuals and alleged sex discrimination, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Speeches had resumed outside the court after a bomb scare had prompted police to clear the area.Read More
This is my first opportunity to write for The Point since joining CMDA’s executive team in September 2016. That was a huge transitioning summer for my family, moving from Tenwek Hospital in Kenya to Bristol, Tennessee by way of St. Joseph, Michigan, where I had been a general surgeon partner in a multispecialty practice for 23 years.Read More
The “Parent Resource Guide: Responding to the Transgender Issue” is a just-released project of the Minnesota Family Council available gratis at www.GenderResourceGuide.com. Print copies can be purchased as well.
It is endorsed by organizations right (Heritage Foundation and Family Policy Alliance), center (Kelsey Coalition and Parents of ROGD Kids) and left (Women’s Liberation Front). Their stated common concerns are the “negative consequences that result when society regards bodily sex as irrelevant,” and the belief that “public schools should never feel pressured to force boys and girls to sacrifice their bodily privacy, promote unscientific theories about human biology, or celebrate ideas that place young children on a path to chemical sterilization or cosmetic ‘gender confirmation’ surgery.” I was honored to be one of many who were invited to help shape its content.
Imagine instructing your patients to tell their problems to a little yellow, happy-faced, big-blue-eyed robot instead of you. On the face of it, it seems an obvious way to reduce costs—no salary for the robot, no health insurance and no 401(k). And the robot does not take up space in the hospital or office. It is a home-body.Read More
If you ever want the entire world to know about the skeletons in your closet, run for political office. In the last year or so, we have heard countless accusations thrown at almost all of the potential presidential candidates, judicial nominees and current senators and representatives. A few of these may even be true! We may never know. Nonetheless, our country continues to function reasonably well under the guidance of these allegedly flawed leaders.Read More
Faith-based health professionals care with compassion and respect for all patients, but they will leave medicine rather than violate their conscience if forced to participate in morally objectionable procedures and prescriptions.Read More
There continues to be a push to “make better human beings” using genetic modifying technologies. This includes the use of gene editing enzyme tools such as the much talked about CRISPR-Cas system, as well as large scale heritable genetic technologies such as creation of three-parent embryos. As discussed previously, one aspect of gene editing has a very positive aspect: actually attempting to treat patients with genetic conditions and other maladies. Those clinical trials include potential treatments for cancers, sickle cell disease and even the first in-body gene editing to treat blindness. These are truly therapeutic trials, attempting to alleviate diseases in affected patients.Read More
Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) and Freedom2Care (our center for freedom of faith, conscience and speech) recently submitted official comments on three federal regulations that significantly impact faith-based organizations and conscience-guided health professionals. We also have engaged in court cases, described below, related to two of these regulations.Read More
In our technological world, it’s easier sometimes easier to have conversations with computers than with people. Dr. David Stevens just spent 35-minutes having a conversation about end of life options with Emily, an artificial intelligence robot. He shares how this is bad for you, as both a healthcare professional and as a patient.Read More
How do you feel when it’s time to get ready for work? Are most mornings full of excitement about which patients are on your schedule and what you have to offer them? Or are most mornings filled with dread? If it’s the latter, you are not alone.Read More
How do you feel when you have a patient who is also a physician? Or a patient whose close family member is a physician? I have been pondering this idea as I explained some medical information to several family members. In what ways can I be helpful to the situation, and where do I want to avoid making more work for the doctor caring for my family?Read More
As Christians, the idea of gathering, sharing experiences, supporting one another and living in community is foundational. Isn’t that what Hebrews 10:24-25, among other passages, commands?Read More
In this week’s blog post, Dr. Autumn Dawn Galbreath shares about visiting Poland, what she does to prepare for a trip to another country and how what happened in Auschwitz pushes her to think about suffering for Christ and her desire to pursue Christ above everything else.Read More
“Achieving Balance in Life” by Autumn Dawn Galbreath, MD, MBA
God calls us to an equitable and harmonious distribution of ourselves in multiple areas of our lives. We need to be focused on Him and His scales, rather than the world and its scales.
“Am I Living With Joy in My Life?” by Al Weir, MD
God wants us to live with joy in our lives; however, today, doctors face pressures from many sources that can rob them of the joy of Christian living. As Christians we are followers of Christ who happen to be doctors, not doctors who happen to be Christians. We must discover our mission in life and not allow distractions to rob the joy.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. Human trafficking is most commonly defined as:
Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age
The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
A victim does not need to be physically transported from one location to another in order for the crime to fall within these definitions.
There are several types of human trafficking including forced labor, sex trafficking, forced child labor, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, debt bondage among migrant laborers and child soldiers. Human trafficking occurs in every part of the world, from less developed countries to more developed countries. As such, it is a crime under U.S. and international law. Victims can be any age, any gender and from any economic standing in life.
CMDA offers continuing education for healthcare professionals to learn more about human trafficking and how to provide healthcare to victims. To get started, visit www.cmda.org/tip.Read More
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV 2011).Read More
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32, NKJV). This has become a really important verse in my life over the last 10 or 15 years. I don’t know if any of you can relate, but I’ve had a bit of struggle with performance and with basing my identity on how much I was able to do. I’m not totally sure, but I think this started as a young child – maybe even at birth.Read More
How often do you rest? If you’re anything like me, your answer is, “Not often enough!” Most of us are overwhelmed with things that can be outside of our direct control—a busy practice, a crashing patient, an EMR that requires 1,000 clicks per chart, a healthcare system that increases the RVU requirement every year or two, a prodigal child, a distant spouse. Of course, we have input into the things which we allow to fill our time. But very often, we don’t have control over them. Other people’s requirements and expectations place demands on us that are difficult to simply discard or ignore. And, as healthcare professionals, we are doing good. Our work benefits people. We minister to others in their times of greatest need. Good busyness is the hardest kind to fight because it’s easy to justify.Read More
Drunk, rowdy, and foul smelling, he came into a busy clinic last night. He was roomed immediately to get the disruption out of the waiting room, but his volume penetrated the walls and disrupted multiple other clinic rooms. He had no ID, wouldn’t tell us his name and had no chief complaint.Read More
It is tempting to think sexual harassment is a problem that happens to other people in other places. Sadly, that is not the case. According to Medscape’s 2018 survey of 6,200 physicians, 7 percent of physicians have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the last three years.Read More
An article crossed both my inbox and my Facebook feed this week entitled “Here’s Why Women Doctors Need Time Together.” It certainly wasn’t an academic study, but, as a woman physician, I was intrigued by the title. One sentence summarizes the author’s major premise: “There is an amazing power in gathering, shared experiences and decreasing isolation.” And I agree. When I watch my kids play sports or perform, I gather with other parents who share that experience—and we cheer as loudly as we can. When my marriage needs refreshment, my husband and I gather with other couples who share the experiences, both joyful and difficult, of marriage—and the isolation of our challenges is decreased.Read More
I am very much a can-do person—attacking the tasks in front of me with an astonishing willpower. We’re all like that, right? We wouldn’t have made it through medical school and residency otherwise! But when push comes to shove, I am not necessarily grateful or optimistic. I can tend toward the negative if left to my own human nature. In contrast, I know some people who just seem to have been born genetically positive and optimistic. They are resilient in the face of difficulty, always expect the best from every person or situation, and seem to have an easier time trusting God in their daily lives than I do. Maybe it’s just the outside appearance, but those positive people seem to enjoy life more than I often do.Read More
Excerpted from “Study: Doctor burnout may increase effect of biases on care,” UPI. January 13, 2016 — A national survey of doctors shows job burnout and personal bias have continued to increase in recent years, and researchers suggest the growth of both could affect the quality of care patients receive.Read More