Nursing lore has long maintained that the mysterious illness that sent Florence Nightingale to bed for 30 years after her return from the Crimea was syphilis. At least that’s what many nursing students were told in the 1960s, when my wife was working on her BSN. Syphilis, however, would be difficult to reconcile with the fact that Nightingale was likely celibate her entire life and had not a single sign or symptom typical of that venereal infection.
The saying that “It takes a village” is well known when recognizing the role of communities in promoting children’s health and human development. At the same time, there is a growing worldwide movement drawing attention to how much communities matter for people of other ages—especially adults confronting the challenges of later life. Efforts to make communities better places for older adults (and potentially for people of all ages) reflect a growing field of research, policy, and practice called “age-friendly community initiatives” (AFCIs).
There’s more to international travel than booking a flight, finding a place to stay, and figuring out transportation. When traveling internationally, it is important to pay attention to the different vaccinations and immunizations that are required or suggested. Keeping yourself and your travel companions safe should be a top priority when preparing to go on a trip to another country. Are you ready to get on that plane?
80 years ago, in the summer of 1935, Bill Wilson, a stockbroker from NYC, and Dr. Bob Smith, a surgeon from Akron Ohio, both formerly hopeless alcoholics, shared their “experience, strength, and hope” with each other in Dr. Bob’s living room, and Alcoholic’s Anonymous was born. Today, 2 million people in 170 countries continue to do exactly what Bill W. and Dr. Bob did. Formerly hopeless drunks sit in church basements and in clubhouses, and share their stories with each other, not with ministers, addiction experts or psychiatrists, but with fellow alcoholics.
Medicare recently announced that it will pay for end-of-life counseling as a legitimate medical service. This announcement provoked little controversy. Several groups, including the National Right to Life Committee, expressed concern that such counseling could coerce elderly individuals to terminate medical treatment they want. However, Medicare’s statement was largely treated as uncontroversial—indeed, almost routine in nature.
Sanitation has evinced considerable interest from policy-makers, lawmakers, researchers and even politicians in recent years. Its transformation from a social taboo into a topic of general conversation is evident from the fact that one of the central themes of a recent mainstream Bollywood production (Piku, 2015) was the inability of the protagonist’s father to relieve himself.
Over the past half-century, Medicare and Medicaid have constituted the bedrock of American healthcare, together providing insurance coverage for more than 100 million people. Yet these programs remain controversial: clashes endure between opponents who criticize costly, “big government” programs and supporters who see such programs as essential to the nation’s commitment to protect the vulnerable.
When I meet with patients newly diagnosed with cancer, they often find it difficult articulate the forbidding experience of being told for the first time they have cancer. All they hear is ‘die’-gnosis and immediately become overwhelmed by that dreadful feeling: “Oh my God, I’m gonna die!” I often try to meet them in that intimate and vulnerable moment of existential shock and disbelief by stating, “It’s like being hit by an existential Mack truck.”
New options for biologic cancer treatment are coming for the first time to the United States, and their arrival could help drive down costs for some of the biggest-ticket items in cancer care. Treatments that interfere with cancer’s biological underpinnings have revolutionized treatment for some cancers. But their cost now accounts for half of oncology drug spending—up from 11% a decade ago, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.
The Psychotherapy Laboratory within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at MSKCC was established about 12 years ago. I have been the Director of the Lab from its establishment. In addition to developing interventions for anxiety, depression, and PTSD, we have studied a whole group of existential problems that had as yet no established interventions.
It is not a compliment to say that a physician is practicing “cookbook medicine.” Rather, it suggests that the physician is employing a “one size fits all” approach, applying unreflective, impersonal clinical methods that may cause patient suffering due to lack of nuanced, reflective, and humanistic care. The best physicians—just like the best cooks—make use of creativity, intuition, judgment, and even je ne sais quoi.
John Paul Jones died in Paris on this day in 1792, lonely and forgotten by the country he helped bring into existence. Shortly before his death, he began to lose his appetite. Then his legs began to swell, and then his abdomen, making it difficult for him to button his waistcoat and to breath.
War. Of all human endeavours, perhaps none demonstrates the extremes of ingenuity and barbarity of which humanity is capable. The 21st century may be the century in which the threat of perpetual war is realised. Although many innovations have been brought about as a bi-product of the challenges war presents, the psychological and physical trauma wrought on the human body may prove too high a cost.
Imagine the unimaginable. Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), the person with whom you shared most of your life has forgotten who you are, and even worse, can no longer remember their own experiences, their relationships, and how to behave appropriately in everyday situations. But although most of their long-term memory is heavily impaired, they may continue to relate astonishingly well to autobiographically relevant pieces of music.
Most revered for his work on the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk was praised by the mainstream media but still struggled to earn the respect and adoration of the medical community. Accused of abusing the spotlight and giving little credit to fellow researchers, he arguably become more of an outcast than a “knight in a white coat.” Even so, Salk continued to make strides in the medical community, ultimately leaving behind a legacy larger than the criticism that had always threatened to overshadow his career.
Most of us have vaguely positive sentiments about nurses, but at the same time, nursing is plagued by feminine stereotypes that continue to undermine the profession. These double-edged views are never more striking than in efforts to honor nurses, which often rely on emotional “angel” images rather than recognition of nurses’ health skills or tangible contributions to patient outcomes.