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It's Okay to Laugh...Doctor's Orders

As I write this, we are in dark times. Over 23,000 Americans have died from the Coronavirus, and there are half a million diagnosed cases - even with testing far from comprehensive. Most cities are on some sort of “lockdown”. Most of us have become hyper aware of hygiene and personal space in a way that only those thought of as germaphobes have - it’s now the norm. Individuals and businesses are suffering and I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t been touched by Covid-19 either directly or indirectly. 

 

I am an orthopaedic surgeon, with a subspecialty in sports medicine and arthroscopy. Because I do practice general orthopaedics, I treat a variety of fractures, and these are still considered urgent or at least require an in-person visit to be able to properly guide care. However, because so much of my practice is elective, with rotator cuff and ACL tears considered to be non-urgent in nature, both my patients and I have had to...

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COVID Cocktail Hour

covid-19 doctoring Mar 23, 2020

During this time of social distancing, most of us are struggling to keep our social connections alive. I found that in this flurry of planning how to continue to care for my orthopaedic patients, making sure childcare is lined up, and setting up “decontamination zones” in my home for my critical care doc husband and me when we come home for the hospital - that I really missed connecting with my friends and family. So, I hosted our first Zoom cocktail party this weekend. Ten couples and the wide variety of topics included: my husband’s toe socks (disturbing), peloton (who knew it could cause prostatitis), Coors Light hoarding (you couldn’t pay me to hoard even a single can), slankets (good for Netflix binges), boxed wine versus bottle (it’s not that bad), PPE (wow, are we really running that low?).

 

We are mostly physicians - from a broad variety of specialties, a few dentists, a few in business. We were distanced physically but in many ways...

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COVID-19 Joint Update

covid-19 Mar 14, 2020
 

Updated 3/14/20

Thank you to Howard J Luks, M.D., Joel Topf, MD FACP, Ethan J. Weiss, M.D., Bryan Vartabedian, M.D., Carrie Diulus, M.D., Eric Levi, MBBS FRACS for inviting me to collaborate. Original article at www.howardluksmd.com

 

A message from concerned physicians: 

“EVERYTHING WE DO BEFORE A PANDEMIC WILL SEEM ALARMIST. EVERYTHING WE DO AFTER WILL SEEM INADEQUATE” 

-Michael Leavitt

 

Why are we doing this? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached a point where containment is no longer possible. The COVID-19 threat is real, and rapidly getting worse. Many of you are very nervous, some are unsure of the validity of the information you are reading. As physician leaders, we felt it was important to craft a resource you can rely on as being scientifically accurate and one which contains as much actionable information and guidance as possible. 

 

Accurate, actionable information during an epidemic...

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How Can Women Surgeons Change Culture?

the surgeon's path Mar 04, 2020

How as a woman surgeon, one of only 6% in the field, can we achieve equity while not alienating the majority?

I write about this on KevinMD.com, and you can read more here

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Do Surgeons Have Lives?

the surgeon's path Feb 11, 2020

“Surgeons don’t have lives.”

 
It’s not true, or at least, it doesn’t have to be. I live a full one, though it’s not without a conscious effort to do so. It’s not to say we don’t make sacrifices to be able to practice this craft - we do, and it is indeed a privilege.
 
I write about how surgeons balance their work with family as a guest writer on SheMD.org. Take a look at the article here
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Reporting Dr. Google

bone and joint health Nov 25, 2019

As an orthopaedic surgeon, I often will be asked by patients about remedies they read about on the internet. “But Google said…”.  Well, I’d like to report this Doctor Google to the medical board. 

Why?

1. Dr. Google hasn’t gone through the appropriate schooling or residency

The schooling it takes to become a physician is extensive. After high school, there’s typically 4 years of undergraduate education, followed by 4 years of medical school, then anywhere from 3 to 7 years more of medical residency. Many physicians undergo additional fellowship or subspecialty training, which can be a minimum of another year before even starting practice. If you do the math, at minimum it’s 11 years more of education after high school.

 

2. Dr. Google doesn’t make it easy to distinguish science and pseudoscience 

Jade eggs? Biofrequency healing stickers? Dr. Google lets them all in. Just because there’s a celebrity behind the...

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Leading in Ortho

the surgeon's path Sep 16, 2019

I’m honored to have Dr. Jennifer Weiss, orthopaedic surgeon as my guest blogger today. Her list of accolades is long, and I am pleased to call her a colleague and a friend. Below, Dr. Weiss discusses her role in leadership in our field.


Less than 1 in 10 practicing orthopaedic surgeons are women. In my group of partners in Los Angeles, out of 15 orthopaedists, I am the only woman.  From 2013-2015, I served as Junior Member at Large on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS.)  At that time I spent the first year as the only woman on that board, until Dr. Lisa Cannada joined in 2014.  In 2018, I was appointed Chair of the AAOS Communications Cabinet.  Although this is not a position that is on the Board of Directors, I spent last year attending many of the board meetings as the leader of my cabinet.  The shift in the representation of women in the boardroom was tremendous.  I work(ed) alongside Amy Ladd,...
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Guilt as a Surgeon Mom

the surgeon's path Aug 29, 2019

He came out on time but scrawny, like a baby spider monkey. Even though it was 38.5 weeks and I was term, when my son was born, he looked nothing like the cherubic babies on the diaper boxes. He was only 5 pounds, 10 ounces and off-the-charts small.  Fortunately, other than being tiny, he was very healthy, and eventually caught up in height and weight. 

 

“What did I do wrong?” was my first thought as I laid eyes on him. Immediately, mom guilt set in. Did I work too much? Should I have taken fewer call shifts? Did my efforts to shield him from radiation in the OR with double the lead aprons do damage - squashing him down to this size in the process? Did I not eat enough meat? Should I have gained more weight? Less weight? In the moment, the scientist in me was supplanted by an emotional new mom’s worries of what she did wrong. 

 

That one moment whisked away how good I felt most of the whole 38.5 weeks of pregnancy. Other than some minor...

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Be Your Own Editor

 

This year, I learned that to have success and fulfillment, you don’t just DO, sometimes you have to UNDO. 

 

What do I mean by that? The process of undoing - or editing - it a key part of different areas of our lives. For example, we edit in medicine all the time. Think about the medical student’s SOAP note: the subjective story, the objective findings, the assessment and the plan. Imagine what a novel that daily note would be if in the subjective, details that weren’t pertinent to the current problem were included. “Mrs. S complains of shoulder pain, but likes mint chip ice cream over plain vanilla, and has a neighbor who has a dog named Scrappy.”  You may notice that the resident’s note is shorter than the medical student, and the attending’s note is even shorter. There is a reason that as we rise in the ranks of our medical training, our notes get shorter and more succinct. We edit. Even in surgery, as our skills...

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Path to Orthopaedics

the surgeon's path Jun 03, 2019

As a female orthopaedic surgeon, I am often asked how I ended up in this field. Although seeing women in orthopaedic surgery is becoming more common, we are still make up only 6% of the orthopaedic surgeons in the U.S.

I actually had no idea what orthopedic surgery was before medical school. In fact, I started medical school thinking I would be an internist, but it really didn't take me very long to realize how wrong I was. It became progressively clear as we approached clinical rotations as third year medical students who the “surgical: and “non-surgical” types were, with me clearly falling in the former.

Between the first and second years of medical school, a family friend offered me the opportunity to shadow in his total joint replacement practice. Rather than just spend a day or two with him, I spent a few weeks. During that time, I had the opportunity to see many facets of what it means to be an orthopaedic surgeon. I spent time in the operating room,...

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