National Doctors’ Day 2020- battling the COVID-19 pandemic

Doctors’ Day 2020 will be somber for not only U.S. doctors, but for physicians all over the world. This year we are all working together against the biggest medical foe any of us have ever faced- the novel coronavirus pandemic

National Doctors’ Day

Did you know there is a national day to honor physicians? In 1990, the U.S. Congress established a National Doctors’ Day, first celebrated on March 30, 1991.

The first Doctors’ Day observance was March 30, 1933, in Winder, Georgia. The idea came from a doctor’s wife, Eudora Brown Almond,  and the date was the anniversary of the first use of general anesthetic in surgery.

an electron microscope image of the coronavirus
used with permission, CDC.GOV

Doctors’ Day 2020

But Doctors’ Day 2020 will be somber for not only U.S. doctors, but for physicians all over the world. This year we are all working together against the toughest medical foe any of us have ever faced- the novel coronavirus pandemic.

March 30 is Doctors' Day

You may not have a chance to honor your doctor in person, but you can commit to doing your part to establish a trusting, respectful relationship with your doctors. It will be good for both of you.

a medical person holding a stethoscope

how to communication with your doctors-

Be open and honest about your medical history,lifestyle, and concerns. 

Sometimes patients leave out important information due to forgetting, thinking it’s not important, embarrassment, or fear. But that may be the very piece of data I need to pinpoint what’s wrong.

So tell the doctor

  1. If you can’t do something you’re asked to do
  2. If you can’t afford medication, tests, or treatment
  3. If you are afraid of a test or treatment
  4. If other doctors are caring for you
  5. Your social habits-alcohol use, smoking, sexual behavior

Learn more tips on talking with your doctor here-

How to talk to your doctor to improve your medical care a male doctor holding a tablet

Give details about your problem, explain what you feel

I find that patients often have difficulty describing how they feel. They may say they hurt, cough, itch or get short of breath, but give few details. Maybe because we use  text messaging with its brevity, abbreviations and emoticons. We have forgotten how to use descriptive words.

I don’t think we doctors expect our patients to always recite a rehearsed narrative  about “why I came to the doctor today.” But it does help if you come prepared to answer questions as specifically as possible.

You might try thinking about your problem using the PQRST mnemonic. It will help your doctor identify possible causes for your symptoms, and may also help you understand your problem and even suggest ways you can help yourself.

Find out what PQRST means at this post-

How to tell your doctor what’s wrong with you.

Female doctor looking at an xray

Recognize your doctors are people first

As physicians, our patients’ “social histories” help us understand factors in your life that impact your health -where you live, your job, your family, your hobbies . Besides that, we enjoy getting to know you, especially the things that make you and your life unique and interesting. That feeling can go both ways.

a woman in white coat with mask over mouth

Exchanging a few social words can make the encounter more satisfying for you and your doctor. Some of us will be more open about sharing our personal lives, and some subjects may be off limits. But I don’t think any of us will object to polite,  caring interest in our lives outside of medicine.  

You may cry when you read about a unique doctor-patient relationship in this post-

A simple way to help your doctor beat burnout

Finally, in honor of Doctors’ Day, meet some physicians with unique experiences to share, just a few of the many doctors who work tirelessly to share the HEART of health.

INTERNATIONAL HEALTHCARE

Dr. Kent Brantly awoke feeling ill- muscle aches, fever, sore throat, headache and nausea. As his condition progressively worsened to include difficulty breathing, he learned the cause of his illness- the Ebola virus. Having spent the past few weeks caring for patients caught up in the Ebola epidemic that swept Liberia in the spring of 2014, Dr. Brantly had contracted the disease himself, and would likely die, as almost all victims do.

Continue this story at-

Surviving Ebola, “Called for Life”- Dr. Kent Brantly

affiliate link

 DISASTER HEALTHCARE

When she applied for a position in New York City at the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), Dr. Judy Melinek never imagined that decision would plunge her into the nightmare of September 11, 2001. She was at the ME office that day when the Twin Towers were attacked and fell, killing thousands of people.

She and the other staff collaborated with the team of investigators who worked night and day identifying remains of the victims, a task she vividly describes in the book. This was basically their only job, since the cause of death was for the most part irrelevant, and impossible to determine. Sometimes they had only a small body part, as little as a finger, to extract DNA to identity a victim. Such identification was critical to bring closure to the families who lost loved ones, people who left for work that day, and never came home.

Read more about Dr. Melinek at this review of her book-

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and The Making of a Medical Examiner- a review of words worth sharing

Meet the 91 year old still practicing physician, whose grandfather was a slave- Melissa Freeman, M.D.

Photos in this post are from the LIGHTSTOCK.COM collection, an affiliate link. Consider Lightstock for your photo and graphic needs. You will get quality media and help support the mission of this blog-to inform and inspire us all to discover the HEART of health.

exploring the HEART of dedicated physicians

Join me on Facebook March 30 through April 3 where I share stories about physicians past and present who share the HEART of health every day.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

March Sadness-how COVID-19 has changed 2020

In 2020 we’ll be thanking doctors for tackling this new and largely unknown disease that just a few weeks ago we knew little about. Since then we’ve learned it’s name, it’s genetic make up, symptoms, how it spreads, and complications, and slowly learning what does and does not work, and how to contain and stop it.

Daylight Saving Time-March 8

Most of the United States changed to Daylight Saving Time on Sunday March 8 2020. However, since then, not much else has been the same due to the pandemic caused by the novel Coronavirus that began in China at the end of 2019.

Your body has probably adjusted to the time change by now but  WebMD offers these tips to make the change easier.

St. Patrick’s Day-March 17

Of course you know that March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. Cities around the world have cancelled their St. Patrick’s Day parades-Dublin Ireland, New York City New York, Boston Massachusettes, and Chicago Illinois.

Not only is the parade in Chicago cancelled, but also the tradition of dying the Chicago River green. Fortunately, I have this photo from a previous year taken by my son who lives there.  

The Chicago River is green on St. Patrick's Day
photo of the Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day by Ryan Oglesby

Welcome Spring.

We will welcome the  first day of Spring, March 20,  in the northern hemisphere, with the occurrence of the vernal equinox. I don’t think the virus can stop that, but may make it less enjoyable. Many families are cancelling or limiting their spring break vacation plans. Even Disney World is closing all of their parks.

This link to The Weather Channel explains what the vernal equinox means.

graphic of the earth explaining equinox and solstice
original source not known

 

National Residency Match Day

March 20 is also Match Day. No, not the kind of match you light fires with.

It’s the day graduating medical students find out what residency program they will join through the National Resident Matching Program , which “matches” them with available positions in residencies all over the United States.

Why should you care? This matching process determines who will care for our medical needs in the next 30-40 years; our family physicians, internists, pediatricians, general surgeons, obstetricians, dermatologists, psychiatrists, and the multitude of other medical specialties. Most doctors will continue in the same specialty their entire career, although some  switch after a few or many years.

For those graduates who match to a residency, especially if it is their top choice, it is a day for celebrating with family and friends, almost like a graduation. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak many medical schools are scaling down or even cancelling festivities this year, disappointing after 4 years of long hours of study and hours of tiring clinical work.

 

Match Days Cancelled, Pared Down Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

THE SURPRISING NEW DOCTORS CARING FOR YOU
photo from Lightstock.com, graphic created with Canva

Read this previous post about the new doctors who will care for you

National Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been designated National Doctor’s Day in the United States. You may not have heard of  a day to honor doctors.

HONOR A DOCTOR-MARCH 30

The first Doctors’ Day observance was March 30, 1933, in Winder, Georgia. The idea came from a doctor’s wife, Eudora Brown Almond,  and the date was the anniversary of the first use of general anesthetic in surgery.

The Barrow County (Georgia) Medical Society Auxiliary proclaimed the day “Doctors’ Day,” which was celebrated by mailing cards to physicians and their wives and by placing flowers on the graves of deceased doctors.

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established a National Doctors’ Day first celebrated on March 30, 1991.

In 2020 we’ll be thanking doctors for tackling this new and largely unknown disease that just a few weeks ago we knew little about. Since then we’ve learned it’s name, it’s genetics, symptoms, transmission, and complications, and slowly learning what does and does not work, and how to contain and stop it.

RESOURCES FOR understanding COVID-19

CDC-Coronavirus Disease 2019

Tips from your Family Doctor

 

March Madness- college basketball tournament

Even people who don’t follow basketball regularly, get excited about March Madness-when college football teams vie to be named the National Champion. Sadly, that has also been cancelled this year, along with other amateur and professional sporting events. Even the Summer Olympics is in question.

statues of runners passing a torch
at the U.S. Olympic Training Center at Colorado Springs Colorado, photo by Dr.Aletha

 

 

exploring the HEART of health

I invite you to follow Watercress Words on Facebook where I share links and occasional posts about the current status of COVID-19.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

 

                              Dr. Aletha 

 

 

From Practice to Politics-Doctors who ran for President-the Activist

Dr. Jill Stein, an internist, was the Green Party candidate for president of the United States in 2016. What happened to her?

In 2016 I wrote about the 3 physicians who ran for President of the United States that year. None of them won but in observance of National Doctors’ Day this month I’m reviewing their stories with updates on what they are doing now.

Holding the office of President is our country’s highest honor but the job of president has become so thankless I wonder why anyone wants to do it. But I am grateful that people are willing to do it, as well as other government positions, both elected and appointed.

These profiles are for your “information and inspiration”, and do not imply endorsement or recommendation by me .

Jill Stein, M.D., internist

Dr. Jill Stein was the Green Party candidate for President.

About Dr. Stein

  1. Dr. Stein graduated from Harvard Medical School.
  2. Her hobbies include writing and performing music.
  3. She also ran for President in 2012, also on the Green Party ticket.
  4. She is a physician’s wife, mother, internal medicine physician/teacher and “environmental-health advocate.”
  5. She developed the “Healthy People, Healthy Planet” teaching program.
  6. She has been interviewed on the Today Show, 20/20 and Fox News network.
  7. In Massachusetts she ran for Governor, State Representative and Secretary of State.
  8. She co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, a non-profit organization.
  9. Her personal interests include ecology, social justice, grassroots democracy, and non-violence.
  10. She has advocated for several environmental issues in her home state-
  • Mercury contamination of fish
  • The “Filthy Five” coal plants clean up
  • Mercury and dioxin contamination from burning trash

Since the election, Dr. Stein continues to speak out on national issues @DrJillStein. On her Facebook page, she is described as

medical doctor, mother on fire,

activist for people, planet, and peace over profit

Dr. Jill Stein is the recipient of several awards, including Clean Water Action’s “Not in Anyone’s Backyard” Award, the Children’s Health Hero Award, and the Toxic Action Center’s Citizen Award.

In a recent interview, Dr. Stein indicated she does not plan to run for president in 2020.

Other physician candidates

                              Dr. Aletha 

A simple way to help your doctor beat burnout

“What would you say to your doctor on your deathbed?”

 

What would you say to your doctor on your deathbed?

Would you remind them of the times you waited weeks  for an appointment or sat  in the waiting room long past your scheduled appointment time?

Would you ask them why they didn’t try harder to cure you? Would you ask why all the tests and medicines they ordered didn’t work to save your life?

Or would you ask, “How was your vacation?”

family skiing on mountain
one of many vacations with my family 

 

 

A patient named Rosemary

One woman did. In a JAMA  essay (Journal of the AMA), Dr. Wendy Stead , an internal medicine physician, described her patient, Rosemary, who “never had a bad interaction with any of her health professionals. After a clinic visit, or hospital stay, she will rave about the excellent care she received from the many teams involved.”

“This is not because we are all such exceptional caregivers.” she admitted. “It is because of the kind of patient she is..the kind who probes for the person behind the doctor.

When Rosemary was terminally ill, Dr. Stead left on a family vacation, fearing that her patient would die while she was gone. As soon as she returned, she went to Rosemary’s home to visit one last time.

Now so weak, Rosemary was confined to bed, and could barely speak. As Dr. Stead leaned over the bed straining to hear her, Rosemary asked,  “How was your vacation?”

 

Probe for the person behind the doctor

 

Dr. Aletha dancing
I actively pursue a hobby-ballroom dancing.

 

 

Do you know if your doctor has children or grandchildren?

What hobbies they pursue?

Who is their favorite sports team?

 

 

 

 

My husband and his eye doctor share an interest in  the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team. At each visit, he and Dr. Nanda spend a few minutes discussing the team’s progress, good or bad.  It makes what otherwise would be a dry, routine visit into a special occasion. I think Dr. Nanda enjoys it as much as Raymond does.

Chesapeake Arena
Chesapeake Arena, home of our beloved Thunder Basketball team – Dr. Nanda has season tickets and follows the team closely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was expecting my second son, William and Audrey became my patients. William had multiple serious health conditions but he was always positive and never complained.

During his frequent office visits, they never failed to inquire about the progress of my pregnancy. After I delivered they always asked about my new baby boy.

When I walked into the exam room, William’s first words were always, “How are you Doc?” And the next words were, “How’s the baby?”- even though by the time William passed away, my “baby” was in kindergarten.

woman with a toddler
Me with “the baby”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing doctors and patients as people

For physicians, our patients’ “social histories” help us understand factors in your life that impact your health -where you live, your job, your family, your hobbies . Besides that, we enjoy getting to know you, especially the things that make you and your life unique and interesting. Dr. Stead points out that when our patients learn our social history we “build an even stronger bridge that goes both ways.”

Now you probably won’t have the time or interest to “probe” every doctor you see, maybe just those you see regularly . Exchanging a few social words can make the encounter more satisfying for both of you. Some of us will be more open about sharing our personal lives, and some subjects may be off limits. But I don’t think any of us will object to honest, caring interest in our lives outside of medicine.

“As healthcare professionals we like to think of compassion as a limitless resource, but some days even the deepest well can feel like it’s running dry. Patients like Rosemary refill the well. They make us better doctors for all our patients.” Dr. Stead 

 

Burnout- bad for doctors and patients

Leaders in the medical community recognize the high and increasing rate of burnout in physicians. In burnout, physicians feel exhausted,  lack enthusiasm about work, lose motivation, and feel cynical about the value of the medical profession. Some estimate as many as 50% of physicians in the United States experience burnout.

Perhaps even more common among physicians is compassion fatigue, which can affect anyone involved intensely in helping others. Compassion fatigue occurs when a helper begins to feel overwhelmed and stressed from their efforts to relieve the pain and suffering of those they help. As they give more of themselves and neglect self care, they in turn become traumatized by their own efforts.

(Photo credit-American Academy of Family Physicians)

 

Doctors on the “front lines” of medicine -family physicians, emergency physicians, internists, pediatricians, psychiatrists- are especially vulnerable to burnout and compassion fatigue as are other health care workers, police, social workers, teachers and disaster workers.

 

 

 

 

 

Why should you care about physician burnout and compassion fatigue?

Factors causing physician burnout include the technological and bureaucratic hassles in medical practice that hinder doctors from spending adequate and quality time with patients and interfere with our ability to care for patients in the way we believe is best.

Studies suggest that burnout causes physicians to spend less time providing direct care to patients, and that care may be less efficient and effective. 

 

According to observational studies of physicians at work, we spend 50% of our time doing paper/computer work about the care we provide the other 50% of the time. (photo credit- American Academy of Family Physicians)

 

 

 

 

 

March 30 is National Doctor’s Day, a day designated by Congress to honor doctors.

One way you can honor your doctor is by trying to connect personally next time you visit. By doing so, you may get a glimpse of the “person behind the doctor” ; empathy can go both ways. If you see your doctor as a person with a life not that different from yours, you may see your interaction as a partnership and  find it easier to communicate .

And better communication can lead to better care for you. See my previous post

3 keys to effective communication with your doctor

Why patients sue their doctors

Dr. Aletha examining an infant on a volunteer trip
Volunteering to serve where we are most needed is one way physicians can recover from burnout and compassion fatigue.

 

Read  here about how government regulations contribute to physician stress

And here about efforts to reverse and prevent physician burnout

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health with me. Please consider these affiliates which help this blog inform and inspire wellness and wholeness throughout the world.

Dr.Aletha a world globe with two crossed bandaids

 

 

 

 

From the O.R. to the Oval Office- 3 Docs Who Ran

Anyone who is following the United States Presidential campaign knows it has become one of the most unexpected, unpredictable and contentious races in history. And so far the candidates are only vying for their parties’ nominations.

The qualifications for President are fairly simple (at least it seemed so until the controversy over Mr. Obama’s birth certificate.)

U.S. Constitution Requirements for a Presidential Candidate:

The President must:

  • Be a natural-born citizen of the United States

  • Be at least 35 years old

  • Have been a resident of the United States for 14 years

How to become President inforgraphic
The Presidential pathway from USA.gov

 

 

The election process is anything but simple. The candidates campaign to secure delegates to their party’s convention through caucuses or primaries in each state. Then at the convention they must win the nomination to be on the ballot to win the electors in each state.

Finally, the Electoral College votes on which candidate will be President. Even that might not be final since in one recent election  the final decision ended up in the Supreme Court (Bush vs Gore).

Holding the office of the President is our country’s highest honor but the job of president has become so thankless I wonder why anyone wants to do it. But I am grateful that people volunteer for and seek the position, and this year three of the candidates are physicians. (three that I discovered; if you know of others, please tell me.)

Since March 30 is National Doctor’s Day this blog is recognizing and thanking the three physician presidential candidates in this and my next post.

These posts are meant to inform, not influence you; they do not indicate an endorsement of the candidates. I will not promote or endorse any candidate on this blog.

In medical usage, progress notes are “Records kept by health care workers to indicate the course of the patient during care”

I have written some “progress notes” about each candidate that will give you a glimpse into their professional, personal and political lives.

statue of George Washington in Manhattan
statue of General George Washington, first President of the United States of America – New York City

 

Jill Stein, M.D.- Green Party candidate 

Dr. Stein, an internist,  is running for President for the Green Party.

Here are some notes about her.

  1. Dr. Stein graduated from Harvard Medical School.
  2. Her hobbies include writing and performing music.
  3. She ran for President in 2012, also on the Green Party ticket.
  4. She is a physician’s wife, mother, internal medicine physician/teacher and “environmental-health advocate.”
  5. She developed the “Healthy People, Healthy Planet” teaching program.
  6. She has been interviewed on the Today Show, 20/20 and Fox News network.
  7. In Massachusetts she ran for Governor, State Representative and Secretary of State.
  8. She co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, a non-profit organization.
  9. She likes to walk with her Great Dane Bandita.
  10. She has advocated for several environmental issues in her home state-
  • Mercury contamination of fish
  • The “Filthy Five” coal plants clean up
  • Mercury and dioxin contamination from burning trash

 

The Presidential Oval Office at the Reagan Library
a replica of the White House Oval Office at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

 

 

Next post- two Republican candidates  are doctors.

Do you know who they are?

March- Match Day, Madness and More

Remember it’s Spring forward and Fall back to Daylight Saving Time. Your body will tell the difference until your sleep cycle adjusts; I know mine always does.

Remember it’s Spring forward and Fall back to Daylight Saving Time

Most of the United States will change to Daylight Saving Time on Sunday March 10.2019.

So you will either be going to bed an hour later than usual, or awakening an hour earlier.

Either way, your body will tell the difference until your sleep cycle adjusts; I know mine always does.  WebMD offers these tips to make the change easier.

St. Patrick’s Day

Of course you know that March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. Here is my previous post about one of my favorite places, Chicago, Illinois, where they dye the river green  to celebrate. 

The Chicago River is green on St. Patrick's Day
photo by Ryan Oglesby

Welcome Spring.

We will welcome the  first day of Spring, March 20,  in the northern hemisphere, with the occurrence of the vernal equinox.

This link to The Weather Channel explains what the vernal equinox means.

graphic of the earth explaining equinox and solstice
original source not known

 

Match Day

March 16 is Match Day. No, not the kind of match you light fires with.

It’s the day graduating medical students find out what residency program they will join through the National Resident Matching Program , which “matches” them with available positions in residencies all over the United States.

Why should you care? This matching process determines who will care for our medical needs in the next 30-40 years; our family physicians, internists, pediatricians, general surgeons, obstetricians, dermatologists, psychiatrists, and the multitude of other medical specialties. Most doctors will continue in the same specialty their entire career, although some  switch after a few or many years.

 

 

National Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been designated National Doctor’s Day in the United States. You may not have heard of  a day to honor doctors.

March 30 is Doctors' Day

The first Doctors’ Day observance was March 30, 1933, in Winder, Georgia. The idea came from a doctor’s wife, Eudora Brown Almond,  and the date was the anniversary of the first use of general anesthetic in surgery.

The Barrow County (Georgia) Medical Society Auxiliary proclaimed the day “Doctors’ Day,” which was celebrated by mailing cards to physicians and their wives and by placing flowers on the graves of deceased doctors.

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established a National Doctors’ Day first celebrated on March 30, 1991.

Of course, the most important physician for you to know is your own personal physician.

Learn how to choose a doctor and how to establish a good working relationship in this article by Dr. Danielle Ofri, author of

A Doctor’s Guide to a Good Appointment

 

 

Madness

And yes sports fans, I am aware that the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, aka March Madness, starts in March. Like many of you, I will be following my favorite regional teams. Good luck everyone.

 

basketfall goal
I wonder how many college basketball players started at one of these?

 

I invite you to follow Watercress Words as we explore spring and summer health challenges and opportunities. Don’t forget to share with your friends.

 

 

                              Dr. Aletha 

 

National Doctor’s Day

This day is largely unknown and unobserved outside the healthcare community. Most hospitals, large clinics  and medical societies recognize their physicians today and the staffs of small or solo doctor practices will do something special for their boss.

“The first Doctors’ Day observance was March 30, 1933, in Winder, Ga. The idea came from Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, and the date was the anniversary of the first use of general anesthetic in surgery. (On March 30, 1842, in Jefferson, Ga., Dr. Crawford Long used ether to remove a tumor from a patient’s neck.)

The Barrow County (Georgia) Medical Society Auxiliary proclaimed the day “Doctors’ Day,” which was celebrated by mailing cards to physicians and their wives and by placing flowers on the graves of deceased doctors, including Dr. Long’s.

The U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution commemorating Doctors’ Day on March 30, 1958. In 1990, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly approved legislation establishing a National Doctors’ Day and then-President George H.W. Bush signed the resolution. The first National Doctors’ Day was celebrated on March 30, 1991.”

source Hallmark-History of Doctors’ Day 

 

 Dr. Bill Krissoff  exemplifies commitment to his profession, his family and his country. I think you will agree after watching this video.

                              Dr. Aletha