Mea sententia...

Mea Sententia (which translates roughly as 'My Opinion') has been my intermittent blog since 2011. Much of my writing is about medical issues, but my topics range through philosophy, behavioral and decision making, management, humor, and persona/family anecdotes.
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Reflections on retirement

Since I retired, I have repeatedly been asked two questions. “How do you like retirement?” and “Don’t you miss practicing medicine?”

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Building boats and EHRs

Imagine that you want a boat. You tell someone to build or buy you a boat, and tell them to send you a bill. What would you get? A kayak? A windsurfer? A boat for waterskiing? A sailboat. A party boat? A cruise ship? A submarine? A battleship or destroyer? You probably would not get what you want. Very likely you would end up with something expensive - that you cannot use.

Before you build or buy a boat, you need a defined goal and a process:

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Intolerance at the hairdresser

This week, waiting at a local hairdresser for my appointment, I had an unnerving experience.

Two women came in together and sat down. They were talking enthusiastically about the previous night’s State of the State address by Governor Lepage, pleased with how well he spoke and looking forward to some of his promises. At one point, one of the women said: “It’s too bad they won’t let him do what he wants. If they did, he’d get rid of all those Somalis.”

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Retirement is like playing Tetris

After four decades in medicine, I retired from the active practice of primary care 15 months ago.  I still get asked at least once a day: “Well, how’s retirement treating you?” My usual reply is that it is a learning process. A more accurate response would be that it is like playing Tetris, but with pieces that change shape and rotate unpredictably as they fall.

(For those not of a certain age, here is Tetris:

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On the road to shared office visits

This is a repost of something I wrote in 2012 about how I discovered that doing collaborative officie visit notes with patients transformed the process for both the patient and myself.


 

Nearly a year ago I embarked on an adventure that has been changing how I practice medicine. It is also changing how medicine feels. 

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Memo to my successor

You are about to have the honor and great pleasure of working with a group of patients I have come to know and respect over the years. While I cannot tell you how to practice medicine, I feel no reluctance to tell you what made it so worthwhile for me.  

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Retirement message to my colleagues

Here is the letter I sent my colleagues upon my retirement from active practice in December 2015.

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Shared decision making in action

Shared decision making based on both evidence and patient preference is popular in the medical literature of late.  I don’t understand why anyone would object.

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The weather delay

Some of the best and most unexpected moments I’ve had in medicine have involved children.

Sitting on her mother’s lap while I elicited the story of her illness, this particular three year old had seemed relaxed, social and quite articulate. Taking a cue from how attached she seemed to be to Mom and her obvious unusual maturity for age, I tried to be clever when it came time for the exam. “Do you want your Mom to help you up onto the table so I can check your ears and lungs, or are you big and strong enough to do it yourself.”

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The knee injury

The computer generated routing slip on the exam room door said he was there because of a knee injury. That turned out to be only partly true.

 

When I entered the room, he was sitting comfortably on the exam table. I introduced myself, we shook hands, and as I sat down at the computer to open the EHR to his chart, I started with my usual fairly open-ended question:

Me: So, what brings you in today and how can I help?

Him: I hurt my knee this past weekend. (Note: this was a Wednesday.)

Me: Tell me about it.

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