Posts Tagged ‘letter’

Stress Illness and Surprises

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

In presenting my lecture last month in four US states and two European countries, one story always got a big reaction.  A woman of about 60 years of age had unexplained chest pains (requiring narcotics) for nearly two years that were linked to finding a letter from her emotionally abusive mother.  She found the letter in the family Bible just after her mother’s funeral.  Among other things the letter had a list of “10 Reasons Why I Hate You.”  The woman’s chest pains faded rapidly after we uncovered this connection and she wrote her mother an emotional and cathartic reply.


Stress Illness and The Health Care System (4)

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

After 4.5 hours of instruction, two dozen mental health clinicians (MHCs) with varied training and experience were able to find the diagnosis in a half-dozen simulated stress illness patients.  So I also talked to them about reaching out to medical clinicians to teach them how to explain the following concepts to their patients: (more…)

Letter to New Medical Students (5)

Friday, January 29th, 2010

We have scheduled several “Personal Mental Health Weekends” during the academic year.  These are two or three day weekends just after an exam and just before the start of a new class when you should have a minimum of studying to do.  We encourage you to use this time to re-connect with as much of your non-medical life as possible. If you lose your humanity during medical training you may become a master of medical technique but you will not reach your potential as a physician.


Letter to New Medical Students (4)

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

In your Clinical Medicine class you will be able to talk to real patients starting next week.  They will know you are first year students and will not expect you to be physicians.  You will learn that you can take a good medical history from a patient even if you have no clue what to do with the information.  This experience highlights the importance of the human qualities you bring to the bedside because you won’t have any medical qualifications at that time.


Letter to New Medical Students (3)

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

You can begin learning to care for patients by first caring for each other.  There will be times when a classmate can relate to your life better than anyone else.  To help you get to know each other we will give each of you a booklet containing, for each class member, their name and photograph, home town, undergraduate institution and something personal that they offered to share.


Letter to New Medical Students (2)

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The amount of factual material to be presented to you in the next four years is, for practical purposes, infinite.  Even eliminating your need for spouses, friends, family, recreation, hobbies, sleeping, eating, urination and defecation will not give you enough time to learn it all though some have tried.  Therefore you must constantly draw and redraw a line between your medical life and the rest of your life.  A medical career is a constant search for balance between these two worlds and your search for that balance will begin soon.


Letter to New Medical Students (1)

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I teach medical students occasionally, most intensely in a class called the Healer’s Art that was developed by Rachel Remen, MD.  These experiences led me to ideas about education that are presented below as a letter (or speech) to new students on the first day of medical school.  I have never sent this particular letter (or given the speech) but perhaps someday…


Mental Health Professionals and Physicians (Letter)

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Building referral pathways from medical to mental health professionals will be a key part of relieving stress illness.  Here is an example of a letter written by a mental health professional  to a medical clinician offering ideas that could help.  (The references below will be discussed in more detail in a future post.)


Mental Health Professionals and Physicians (Intro)

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Millions of people who could benefit significantly from a few visits with a mental health professional never get the chance.  This is because the psychosocial stresses they are coping with manifest primarily as physical symptoms.  When they go to a medical office, diagnostic tests are normal because the stress causes no visible damage to the body.  Most of the time, neither the physician nor the patient knows what to do next.