On naked medicine.

Placeholder ImageNaked medicine to me is medicine stripped of politics, corporations, and administrators. Naked medicine is the art of healing with no time constraints, insurance forms, or objective quality indicators. Naked medicine is a concept that is so unknown to most Americans.

The inspiration for this blog title came from a medical retreat held at Breitenbush Hot Springs near Detroit, Oregon. As a medical student in the midwest, I never expected to end up finding so many truths about the American healthcare system there.

I am a 3rd year medical student at an osteopathic medical school. Like most medical students, I entered medical school full of dreams of becoming an “ideal” doctor. I dreamed that I would practice medicine in a way that I would always have time to address the concerns of my patients, tend to all of the needs of my staff, and have a sense of fulfillment at the end of each day. Little did I know that this dream was next to impossible in the current state of American healthcare.

Having gone through the healthcare system as a patient while in medical school, my awe and respect for physicians turned into resentment. I was newly diagnosed with a condition that many medical professionals did not know much about. I felt that from my primary care physicians to specialists, no one could adequately explained how to manage my disease. I was told contradicting things by physicians and began to feel that I couldn’t trust medical advice from anyone. I ended up going from ER to ER getting lumbar punctures while wishing my pseudotumor cerebri was better managed.

After starting rotations, I let go of some of the resentment. I saw how physicians were forced to practice medicine in a way that suppressed individuality. I saw how so much of a physician’s actions was determined by corporate professionals who had no medical background and physicians often had no choice in how their practices were being run. I saw how frustrated physicians were with their jobs and how patients suffered as a result.

I quickly became to realize that so many doctors were living a reality so far from what I had envisioned. So many physicians that I have met over the past few years have been overworked, fed up with their employers, and never seem to have enough time to address all of the concerns of anyone around them. The years of abuse and sleep deprivation that they have experienced during their years of medical training has created a culture of apathy and frustration. Many of them feel that they are not caring for their patients in the way that their patients need.

I was introduced to Dr. Pamela Wible, leader of the ideal medical care movement, when I discovered her fearlessly honest TED talk. She spoke the truth on the current state of the healthcare system and the human rights abuse too many of us medical professionals have faced during our training. I found out that there was a whole movement of people interested in abandoning the rules set by corporate professionals and practicing ideal medical care. I was fortunate to recieve a scholarship to attend the retreat held by Dr. Wible in Breitenbush Hot Springs to learn more.

At Breitenbush, I met approximately 10 other medical students and 40 physicians and healthcare professionals that were just as frustrated with the American healthcare system as me. I heard so many stories of poor decisions while sleep deprived and lack of flexibility at the workplace due to a corporate employer’s decisions. I began to think about how I would like to start my own ideal medical clinic one day and step away from administration. I felt inspired to think that the concept of naked medicine could still exist in our country. I feel even more inspired to realize that there are so many people committed to making the concept of naked medicine a reality. Dr. Pamela Wible is leading the movement on ideal medical care, one medical practitioner at a time.

My call to action to all medical students, physicians, and healthcare professionals reading this is to do whatever it takes to practice truly naked medicine. I invite others to think about what being a physician means to them without considering the expectations of others. I invite others to truly consider if they are providing their patients with the best care. I invite everyone to please consider quitting their jobs and opening an ideal clinic if the answer is no.

For more information on Breitenbush Hot Spring Retreat and Conference center please visit: https://breitenbush.com/

For more information on Dr.Pamela Wible and ideal medical care movement please visit: http://www.idealmedicalcare.org

On suicide prevention.

suicide-preventionMedical student and physician suicide is much too prevalent in America with little being done to address the issue. We lose approximately a doctor a day to a preventable cause of death.

As a medical student, I often wonder “why did I even go into medicine?” I have had the feelings of frustration that so many others have let take over their lives. I take a step back and remind myself that I chose to go into medicine to better the lives of others. I take another step back and realize that there are too many people that love me to see me lose my own life.

For so many other medical students and physicians, it has been hard to take that step back. Between the sleep deprivation and lack of time to focus on self-health, it’s no wonder that physicians are much more likely to turn to substance abuse and suicide compared to the general public. My call to action to anyone with thoughts of harming themselves is this: reach out to someone and get help. You are more than enough. It is not cowardly to ask for help.

For anyone struggling with mental illness, coping with the loss of a loved one to suicide, or concerned about a friend’s mental illness, please seek help. You can find support at the  American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at the link below:

https://afsp.org/find-support/

If you are in a crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

On Single-Payer.

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What is Single-Payer?

“Single-payer national health insurance, also known as “Medicare for all,” is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health care financing, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands. Under a single-payer system, all residents of the U.S. would be covered for all medically necessary services, including doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs.

The program would be funded by the savings obtained from replacing today’s inefficient, profit-oriented, multiple insurance payers with a single streamlined, nonprofit, public payer, and by modest new taxes based on ability to pay. Premiums would disappear; 95 percent of all households would save money. Patients would no longer face financial barriers to care such as co-pays and deductibles, and would regain free choice of doctor and hospital. Doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.” – Physicians for a National Health Program

http://www.pnhp.org/facts/what-is-single-payer

Why should I support it?

I support the single-payer healthcare model because it provides a way to cut out the middle man in healthcare — corporate America. The single payer system streamlines the healthcare needs of Americans while ensuring adequate physician compensation. The single payer system ensures that the money going into healthcare goes directly to healthcare professionals. The system also gives doctors their power back to spend more time with patients and less time concerned about their obligations to multiple insurance companies. Cutting out private insurance decreases the existing parity in healthcare and gives physicians the opportunity to provide all patients with quality care.

What can I do to support Single-Payer?

Follow the link below to send an editable letter to your representative to bring light to the Single-Payer system.

http://org.salsalabs.com/o/307/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5704&okay=True

On experience as a patient.

For the first couple of years of medical school the constant stream of exams and the anxiety that came along with each one seemed never-ending. I told myself that it was worth sacrificing my personal health to better the lives of others.

I put off addressing my own mental health needs to keep advancing to the next level of education. I let stress manifest itself in new ways that my body wasn’t used to. I compulsively ate away my feelings with total disregard to both my physical and mental health. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and became pre-diabetic by the end of my first year. I thought to myself “everyone goes through things like this during medical training… I’ll lose the weight next year”.

Another year went by and along with it came a new diagnosis. I started having terrible headaches that were different from the migraines I had become used to. I became preoccupied with my headaches. If I wasn’t in overwhelming pain, I was having anxiety about when my next headache would occur. After going through months of diagnostic imaging studies and to various physicians, I finally found a cause to my pain. By the end of my second year, I developed a medical condition known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension or pseudotumor cerebri.

My neurologist said that if my headaches weren’t well controlled I could lose my vision. The pressure in my head could even get so bad that it could cause my brain to herniate if severe enough. It was a huge wake up call. It’s hard to say how much medical school played a role in the development of my condition, but my headaches and instances of increased intracranial pressure have correlated highly to my stress level.

Making steps towards leading a healthier life by implementing exercise into my daily routine and identifying stressors has improved my symptoms greatly. The process of being a patient has taught me empathy for the patients that so often feel dismissed in our healthcare system.

A physician recently took the time to research the affects of the anti-inflammatory diet to augment the medications for my condition. The fact that he went above and beyond to provide me with an alternative to the medications that have been failing me for the past few months made me feel cared for. I invite healthcare professionals to take the extra 5 minutes to examine the current research and alternative modalities to medicine being used to treat your patient’s condition. It can make a huge difference in their quality of life.

My call to action to other graduate students struggling with chronic diseases and mental illnesses during their training processes is this: take care of yourself. You can’t take care of anyone if you’re dead. Your health is worth saving. Ask for help when you need to and advocate for what you believe in.

If you have or know someone who has pseudotumor cerebri and would like more information, please reach out on the contact page.