Palliative care is a unique sector of medicine that treats patients with terminal diseases. Palliative care physicians have conversations with families to identify patient wishes, particularly when they are facing death. These physicians are equipped with training that emphasizes empathy, comfort and patient autonomy. Freedom of choice during the dying process gives patients the power to reclaim their agency amidst a process rife with uncertainty.
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Ever since Ozempic took center stage, it’s been hard to look away. In my family medicine clinic, it seems like every patient is inquiring about weight loss drugs. These drugs seem like little miracles stuffed in once-per-week injectable pens, boasting weight loss of up to 34 pounds after about a year of treatment. We know that obesity is dangerous. I recall the exhaustive lectures on how excess adiposity increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, Type 2 diabetes and death. Now, we have this drug that seems like a cure for obesity, an issue that ravages about 2 in 5 adults in the United States.
From Classroom to Clinic: Medicine and motherhood, the case for cryopreservation in residency training
For most women, medical training coincides with their reproductive prime. The average age to matriculate to a medical residency program is 27.5 years old. In 2016, a study found that 24.1% of female physicians attempting conception struggled with infertility, compared to 11% of the general female population in the U.S. When asked if study respondents would do anything differently, some subjects said they would have tried to have children sooner, chosen a different medical specialty or tried cryopreservation. In surgical specialties, 42% of providers reported pregnancy loss, and most of those doctors went right back to work.
As a native Ohioan, the recent statewide referendum that included Issue 1, formally titled “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health Safety,” has been on my mind. The citizen-initiated amendment that passed on Nov. 7 provides the “right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions” on abortion, contraception, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care and fertility treatment. Essentially, this bill has made abortion a constitutional right in the state of Ohio.
The demands of medical training are notorious, and at the end of a tortuous (and expensive) road, medical students must determine their specialty. This decision is not just a personal one, but it also informs the future of healthcare. What do medical students prioritize, and how do their priorities inform the future healthcare market? The interplay of financial incentives and the shortage of primary care physicians are having significant effects on the growing mental health crisis in America.
I looked at my patient’s wistful brother as he asked, “How long does he have left?” We had just told him that our patient, his brother, was experiencing “heart failure.” I stood there as a medical student, wishing I could tell him that, despite its name, heart failure is not necessarily a death sentence. But that’s the thing about “medicalese”: The language we use doesn’t always directly translate into what we mean. There is nothing hopeful or optimistic about hearing that your heart “failed.” For most people, that sounds like you’re already dead.