The Insanity of Recertification

Studying for the boards is like stuffing your face at a hot dog–eating contest: The first few hundred pages are intriguing and tasty; the next few hundred are interesting, but your brain is feeling sluggish. The remaining thousand pages are just confettied sauerkraut delivered by dump-truck onto a comatose slop of neurons. More

Just a “Regular” Doctor

“What’s your specialty?” This question continually flummoxes me. This is the moment that I experience a brief surge of envy toward my cardiology and dermatology colleagues who have simple one-word answers to this question that any lay person can understand. More

The Doctor-Patient Relationship is Alive and Well

Medicine is unquestionably harder than it was 10 years ago. Many more doctors I know talk about quitting (an option that is not equally available to patients). However, there’s been no mass exodus of doctors. We doctors grumble loudly — often with good cause — but we aren’t quitting in droves, mainly because of patients like Ms. M. More

Why Does the Physical Exam Stop at the Navel?

It’s like our patients are Humpty Dumpty, and the pieces are divvied out between different medical fields. Can we put the patient back together again? More

“Literature about medicine may be all that can save us”

“Language, that most human invention,” wrote Oliver Sacks, “can enable what, in principle, should not be possible. It can allow all of us, even the congenitally blind, to see with another person’s eyes.” In the last decade or two, a new generation of doctor writers – including Atul Gawande, Abraham Verghese, Henry Marsh,Danielle Ofri, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Paul Kalanithi and Gavin Francis – have undertaken the mission of seeing in this fashion. More

Should Doctors Care About Happiness?

We in the health care professions need to notice and inquire about happiness the same way we do other aspects of our patients’ lives. More

A Doctor in the Neighborhood

There aren’t any ethical guidelines about where a doctor should live or how she should behave when she and her patient are in line at the grocery store. More

Patients, and Doctors, Aren’t Dying at Home

Doctors, it turns out, aren’t much different than everyone else when it comes to where they die. More

The “Mall-ification” of Health Care

Retail health clinics have exploded over the last 10 years, and now it seems like every other big box store, supermarket and shopping mall has its own clinic. More

Getting the Diagnosis Wrong

Diagnostic accuracy is fiendishly difficult to measure precisely. A new report suggests that nearly everyone will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetimes. More

Getting the Diagnosis Right

If I had the luxury of an hour with each patient, I would have the time to carefully sort through every diagnostic possibility. But the reality is that I, like most doctors, have five to 10 minutes to push the majority of diagnoses to the bottom of the list, come up with the most likely few at the top. More

Adding Spice to the Slog: Humanities in Medical Training

As soon as we’d finish rounds on the medical wards I’d race to pass out an Anatole Broyard essay in the nanoseconds before dispersal entropy overtook our team. More

The Pain Med Conundrum

Under-treating pain violates the basic ethical principles of medicine. On the other hand, we are lambasted for over-prescribing pain medications. What are doctors to do? More

Storytelling in Medicine: the Passion and the Peril

So much of medicine is about stories—the ones we hear, the ones we tell, the ones we participate in—that it is no accident that doctors and nurses are attracted to stories. More

Racing the Diabetes Marathon

Diabetes can feel relentless and obstinate. Is there a toenail or ribosome out there that is not suffused by the tenacious diabetic tentacles? More

Books by Danielle Ofri

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