Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When "the patient" is a member of your family

Every day we step into the hospital and we experience the realities of life. The rawness of human emotion, of pain, of joy, of family, of living, of dying. We have endured years of training in able to cope with these complexities of the human condition. With more experience we learn what to say and how to act. This is how we daily participate in the lives of others, our patients.

My goal as a physician is treat each one of my patient's as if they were someone in my family. This ensures that for each new person that I greet I do so at my very best. The bottom line though is that my patients are not really members of my family. What happens when the patient is? When someone of utmost significance in your life is the one in the gown?

I have seen it in medical school and in residency where colleagues of mine have had to very impressively push through the academic rigor while going through personal devastation with a sick/dying relative. This has happened to me as well. We, as doctors (along with our families), are NOT immune to the very thing that we spend our careers chasing after (PERFECT HEALTH).  Where in all of our training are we prepared to deal with that?

This past week I lost my grandmother to COPD. She was such an example of strength and all that is good in this world. She was an accomplished nurse (trained during world war II) and one of the reasons that I went into medicine in the first place. My mother is also an AMAZING nurse practitioner and human being. These two women have taught me more in my life than most.  It is through watching them, that I have become who I am.

My mother really deserves all of the credit of what I am about to say, because she has lived it these past few months/weeks. As she demonstrated, we as healthcare practitioners, have an advantage for ourselves and our families in that we TRULY understand what is going on. We are realistic and accustomed to facing grave issues of life and death and prognosis and hospitalizations.

However, what I have learned in the past few weeks is that first and foremost you must be there for your loved one as FAMILY. You must remove your MD/RN title and way of being. Listen. Care. Laugh. Cry. Help. Contribute. Ask questions. Be a part of the healthcare decisions, but know when to step back. 

When the patient was my grandmother, all she really needed was for me to put ICY HOT on her legs, and I did just that.

My dear Grandma,
Thank you for your kindness, love, patience, and all the things that you have taught me. You will be missed! XO

I will forever greet each new patient as if they were you...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sail Away with HOSPITALstyle

If you are in medicine you are likely in need of a vacation, desperately! Some time away from the constant buzz of cardiac monitors and IV fluids, the demands/pain/and high emotions of your patients, and the realities of life/sickness/and death that we deal with on a daily basis.

A HOSPITALstyle approved vacation idea is a week aboard your own YACHT in the caribbean.

This is a great idea because it is an easy destination to get to from all airports in the US, it can be done in a cost effective manner, you can spend quality time with people you rarely see, you may have your own captain and cook aboard in order to maximize your rest and relaxation.

The good news is...that I am leaving for my sailing vacation aboard AMARYLLIS in less than 2 weeks and having organized this trip in the midst of intensive care rotations I can attest to the ease of making this dream vacation a reality.

  • Step 1: Decide when you can escape the hospital
  • Step 2: Stir up some interest with friends/family
  • Step 3: Set aside some money
  • Step 4: Contact the following people with your price range and your dates  ( (

They will email boats who have availability during your dates and then it is up to you to decide.
  • Step 5: Send out an email to your friends recruiting them for a week aboard a yacht in the Caribbean (believe me this adventure sells itself).
  • Step 6: Decide where you want to sail (British Virgin Islands is recommended for first time sailors. The islands are closer together and the water is calm. I have also sailed in The Grenadines, which are further apart, less populated and more exotic)
  • Step 7: Place a deposit, and iron out details on MENU/PRICES/FLIGHTS

I  booked our boat through Mainsail Yacht Charters and Kevin ( a former airline pilot) as been an amazing guide through this process. He is highly recommended. Contact him or me @ with any questions.

I set sail on February 28th and will be sure to tell you all about it when I return. Can't wait to escape the Hospital!