Doctors vote for their favorite vacation spots – here are top 10

Who doesn’t need a vacation? After months of stressful work, all you want to do is relax and unwind somewhere away from your daily routine. But, with extremely busy lifestyles, planning a vacation can mean even more stress for doctors. So, we thought of making vacation planning a little easier for you. Doctors Patch conducted a survey of its physician community, and here are our community’s 10 favorite vacation spots (not listed in any particular order):

1: Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers, California


Sequoia has a vivid landscape with huge mountains, deep canyons and rugged foothills. If that’s not enough, it has some of the world’s tallest trees with heights reaching 350 ft. A drive to the Sequoia National Park from Los Angeles or San Francisco takes around 4 hours. There are various accommodations around the park that include rustic lodges and rent-able cabins, along with numerous restaurants and eateries in and around the park (some even prepare boxed lunches). Do remember to fill up your gas tank before driving to the park. It is most recommended for physicians who want to relieve stress, and are looking for a peaceful vacation.

2: The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia


The dwarfing Greenbrier is located in West Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains and is set on 11,000 wooden acres. It is a great destination for physicians who want to spend some quality time with their family. The resort was first opened in 1778 and has been a favorite destination for celebrities from General Robert E. Lee to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. It is a huge resort, comprising of more than 700 rooms. You will also find a casino here, and there are various activities to choose from, including horse riding, hiking, fishing, golf, paintball, hunting, and kayaking.

3: Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Namibia


Skeleton Coast, located in Namibia, was created out of lava rock around 130 million years ago. One of the best accommodations at the Skeleton Coast is the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp that is situated on the banks of Hoanib river, and is one of Africa’s most extraordinary wildlife-viewing regions. Opened in 2015, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is a fly-in oasis. The cost of the camp starts from $500, and there are eight luxury safari tents, big decks, and twin-bed interiors.

4: Bali, Indonesia


Bali is best known for dreamy beaches and romantic getaways, and it is the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia. Also known as the Island of Gods, Bali has a lot to offer from relaxing on the black sand beaches to doing world class surfing and diving. You can also explore nearly 10,000 temples in and around Bali, and explore the Island’s jungle that is famous for its volcanoes.

5: Wilmington, North Carolina


Looking for a low cost destination? Head to Wilmington, North Carolina. Named by USA Today as America’s Best Riverfront, Wilmington is a lovely port city. It is famous for over 230 blocks of landmark churches, classic architecture, moss-draped oaks, brick-lined streets, and colonial homes. Wilmington is also surrounded by three island beaches and is famous for various cultural events, such as jazz, chocolate, and wine festival. There are various places you can explore in and around Wilmington, such as state aquarium, art galleries, and a variety of museums.

6: Mexico Beach, Florida


If you are looking to relax and recuperate in the gulf coast, then you must head to Mexico Beach, Florida. It is a popular tourist hub and is famous for fishing, scuba diving, bird watching, boating, and white sand beaches. You can also plan day trips to view some of the finest tidal marshes, springs and savannas that are home to their own unique forms of wildlife.

7: Mantua, Italy


Mantua has been chosen as Italian culture capital in 2016. Mantua or Mantova as it is referred in Italian, was ruled by Gonzaga family for centuries, and is famous for its luxurious palaces, religious remnants, and extravagantly decorated churches. Lying midway between Venice and Milan, and a short distance from Verona, this ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage site proves to be a perfect destination for tourists to relax. Also referred to as a sleeping beauty city, Mantua is famous for its impressive skyline that includes castles, domes, and towers. The Palazzo Ducale di Mantova also known as Ducal Palace is in the heart of Mantua. The palace is around 35,000 square meters and comprises of 500 rooms – a city in itself.

8: Bordeaux, France


If you are looking to pull yourself away from Paris, then it’s worth exploring Bordeaux that is situated in the southwest region of France. You can easily take a ride in a high-speed TGV train to reach Bordeaux. This town is famous for 9,000 vineyards that are situated to the east where you can find your favorite wine labels. You can climb the eerie Dune du Pyla before heading into Arcachon for delectable local oysters. The town has some fantastic bars and restaurants offering a variety of wine and dine options from prominent chefs, such as Joël Rubuchon and Gordon Ramsay.

9: Shanghai, China


Shanghai, also known as Hu, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. It is perfect for families looking to take a break from their busy life. Situated on the bay of Yangtze river, the city serves as the most influential economic, financial, international trade, cultural, science and technology center in East China. Nanjing Road, a major attraction, is considered the No. 1 commercial street in China, visited by some 1.7 million people each day. Yuyuan Garden is another big attraction – it is the largest of the Shanghai’s ancient gardens with Ming and Qing architectural styles. Shanghai is also famous for some world class museums including Shanghai Museum and China Art Museum. And, don’t forget the temples – some of the most popular include City God Temple and Jade Buddha temple, which is the most famous Buddhist shrine in the city.

10: Crete, Greece


Crete, Greece’s largest island, is famous for its diverse landscape ranging from fine-sand beaches at Elafonisi to the White Mountains. According to Greek mythology, Mt. Ida, the tallest range, is home to the Ideon Cave, which was the birthplace of Zeus. Heraklion, the capital city of Crete is known for Palace of Knossos, a maze-like hilltop ruin, and renowned Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Crete’s climate is mild, which means tourists can enjoy perfect winter and spring breaks. If you want to enjoy the sun, then soak yourself along the island’s sandy coasts. You can also visit the Samaria Gorge National Park that stretches for about 10 miles through southern Chania Prefecture’s White Mountains.

What are your favorite vacation destinations, and do you have any tips for stress-free vacation planning? We would love to hear. Please share in the comments below.

3 things doctors wish to see in their kids when they grow up

Raising kids is hard. And, while it’s hard for any parent, it can be grueling if one or both parents are doctors. Every parent wants their kids to be successful in life, not just professionally, but also in personal and social life. As doctors, we are always trying to find a balance between work and personal lives, while making sure we provide everything our kids need to succeed in life. Of course, we want our kids to have all the good characteristics when they grow up, which is practically impossible. So, we asked our community to tell us top three things they want to see in their kids when they grow up. Some common themes emerged among the responses, such as Grit, Self Sufficiency, Empathy, and Health. But, there is a lot more, and we are amazed to see community’s enthusiasm around this topic. Here are responses from seven leading physicians:

Dr. Scott Schreiber (Chiropractic Physician): Characteristics that I wish my children to have when they grow up include the following:

Independence: I wish that they have the courage to speak for themselves and not give-into peer pressure, whether it be professionally or personally. I would like them to think on their own and be able to decipher fact from fiction. I also would like to be able to support themselves financially and be able to make the right choices for themselves.

Strength: I would like to see them as strong individuals, taking care of their bodies, mind, finances, etc.

Work Ethic: I want my children to have a high work ethic, not taking the easy way out. Work hard and get results, not complain about what others have or how you were cheated. If you want something bad enough, then go get it!

Nathan Wei, MD (Rheumatologist): I’m dad to 4 children, ages 30, 27, 25, and 19. The things my wife and I wanted to cultivate in our children were (are):

Self Sufficiency: We told each of them we would pay for college wherever they wanted to go but after that they would have to be on their own. No living at home, etc.

Resiliency: The ability to take life’s knock downs and get up again. So far, so good.

Honesty: No explanation needed.

Edna Ma, MD (Anesthesiologist): I hope my two children (now 2 & 4 years old) have the following traits when they grow up:

Be humble & kind: Where and when you’re born is based totally on chance. I hope my children realize that they have had a lot more opportunities than many other people in the world.  I hope they exercise kindness and humility to other people with all their encounters.

Grit: I hope my children learn the value of perseverance, grit and hard work.  Anything worth achieving will require dedication and work, whatever that goal may be. Like Malcolm Gladwell, I believe that 10,000 hours of practice is required for mastery of any field or topic.  As I have learned myself, the more I delve into a particular area, such as developing my business or anesthesia, the more easy it becomes, the more confidence I grow, and more opportunities find me! With grit grows opportunity!

Be Happy: My children are young now, only 2 and 4 years old. Being happy seems to come to them easily. Happiness comes in the form of a cupcake or a new toy.  However as they (and humans, in general) grow up, life will get complicated.  I hope they find happiness in a hobby they enjoy, their work,  their friends or maybe even their families!  I hope they find a moment to smile and think “Life is Good!”

Amy Baxter, MD (Pediatric Emergency/Pain Research & CEO, Buzzy): My kids have watched me balance practicing and running a business, for good and ill.

Grit: What I hope they take away from my example isn’t the workaholic tendencies that don’t always pan out. Instead, I hope they do get a sense that grit is a necessary part of success.

Willingness to sacrifice to make a difference: I also hope they see that it’s worth sacrificing to help others, whether sacrificing dinnertime to help a neighbor’s child with a broken ankle, or sacrificing sleep and money to make the Buzzy device to help needle pain and fear.

Kindness: Finally, when I see my kids do something kind I’m the most proud, and I hope they never lose that.

Dr. Ariel Blackburn (Chiropractic Physician): If I could give my children 3-4 things to have when they grow up that would make them successful in life:

Never Give Up: The first thing would be to never give up on their goals in life. There are so many wonderful opportunities that this beautiful life can provide us with. I would hate for them to feel as though they were not good enough to follow their heart and complete their own dreams. I want them to look back on their life and know they have tried their hardest to reach every single dream they had for themselves.

Health: My father recently lost his battle with Congestive Heart Failure. With his passing, it has only solidified the fact that we must take care of our health. There are things I wish he would have done better when it came to his health. I may still have the opportunity to spend time with him if he did. Health trumps all and we are only given one body. We all forget how amazing our body is and how many “little battles” it must fight for us on a daily basis. It is absolutely vital to take care of it and respect it.

Good Money Habits: I also wish that I would have developed better money habits from a young age. It is hard when you want to continue your education, but also know you may forever be in debt. I had to live off of student loans throughout undergraduate and graduate school; I did not have any other option at the time. If I could go back, I would work harder on preventing this as much as I could.

Dr. Alina Baciu (General Surgery):

Passion: The first and most important thing that I wish my child would have is passion. I truly believe having a passion is what makes human beings beautiful. It is my passion for medicine that sculpted me into the person I am today and I truly believe I would’ve been completely lost without it. Passionate people are what make the world we live in great, whether it is through music, science or art. I believe the best path to greatness is achieved through the relentless pursuit of your passion.

Curiosity: Another important trait I wish my child would grow up to have and nurture is curiosity. It is of utmost importance to maintain an open mind and a willingness to always learn, evolve and better yourself. Living in a closed off and safe environment, never wondering what more there is to life, to the world – would be a waste in my opinion. There are hundreds of cultures, places, religions, animals, even foods in the world. I want my child to have the desire to see and experience as much as he can in his lifetime. The amount of things you can teach your child as a parent is greatly out scaled by the quantity and quality of lessons that the world has to offer.

Health: Last but not least, every parent wants for their child to always be healthy. Success is relative and means something else for every single person. Since I could never anticipate what skill sets my child would require to achieve his version of success, I want him to always have a healthy mind, body and spirit.

Andrew D. Atiemo, MD (Interventional Cardiologist): I have 2 young children ages 5 and 7, and here are 3 things/qualities I would like my kids to have when they grow up.

Empathy: There is a lot of suffering in this world and there is a lot that we as human beings can do to alleviate suffering. But, there must be empathy – this is what allows us to feel connected despite our differences.

Responsibility: I want my children to understand that as much as I love and care for them, they must take responsibility for their actions and choices that they make. Parents will not always be able to undo the consequences of poor decision making.

Work/Life Balance: As a cardiologist, I’ve cared for people with sudden cardiac death and it is devastating. None of us are promised tomorrow. It’s important to prioritize what really matters in life and make time for those things.

What are some of the things you wish to see in your kids when they grow up? Please share in comments below.

8 simple ways doctors can protect mobile devices and patient data

There has been a phenomenal growth of mobile devices over the past five years, and healthcare providers are not behind. As of 2015, 99% of doctors use mobile devices, and more than three-fourths use multiple devices. But, here’s the worrisome part. 70% of doctors are now using their devices to manage in-patient data, 80% use them to assist in their day-to-day practice, and 28% actually store patient data on their devices. A study by Skycure found that 11% of devices that store patient data had an OS with high-severity vulnerabilities.

Mobile device security can have a huge impact on your practice. According to US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 260 healthcare breaches occurred in 2015. Threat for physician practices and hospitals is at an all-time high because of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement. Mobile devices have least security compared to laptops and desktops, so they are an easy target for cyber criminals who can install malware and compromise your data, including PHI (Patient Health Information). And, that’s not the only problem – the bigger threat is lost or stolen devices. There is good news, though. You can take some simple steps to protect your mobile devices from most threats. Here are 8 simple tips that go a long way in protecting your device and data:

1: Install a security app

All physicians must install a security app on their mobile devices. There are many security apps for iPhone and Android phones such as Avast!, Security 360, ESET, mSecure, Lookout, Anti-Theft, Find My iPhone, and many more. Just select what works best for you – they are all inexpensive and protect against malicious applications, viruses, spyware, and malware-based attacks. You can also remove sensitive data remotely in case the device is stolen.

2: Regularly backup data

Regular data backups ensure that your data is safe in case your phone is lost, stolen or hacked. They also help restore the phone to the last working state in case it is infected by a virus or malware. You can regularly backup the mobile device to your computer, and/or use apps that backup data round-the-clock without the need to manually do the backup.

3: Lock your screen

It is such a basic thing, but nearly 30% of all physicians do not use a password to lock their device. Creating a screen password is quick, and protects your data in case the phone is left unattended. But, do make sure to pick a complex password (or pattern), so it becomes difficult for hackers to get access to the device.

4: Avoid giving out personal information, and tapping suspicious links

Everyone has received that unsolicited SMS or Email that claims to have come from your bank, or a coupon from a big-box retailer that is waiting to be claimed. Sending such messages to request personal and account information is a common trick used by cyber criminals. Just remember – if it looks suspicious – it most likely is! The best way to react to the situation is to avoid giving away any personal information, and if you think it might be legitimate, just contact the business directly over the phone. Never click on links that look suspicious because it is an easy way for hackers to install software that can compromise your data. And the worst part – you would not even know your phone has been compromised!

5: Download apps from a trusted store

Looking for a new productivity app, or a News app? Make sure to download only from a trusted store like Google Play or iTunes. Always check the ratings and user reviews of the app before downloading to ensure that the app is widely used and safe.

6: Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use

Yes, they provide the convenience of seamless connectivity. But, they are also an easy way for hackers to intercept and compromise your information. It is somewhat inconvenient, but turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities when they are not in use.

7: Keep your OS and apps updated

Always try to keep your operating system and apps updated. Updates not only provide new features, they also provide better protection from new security threats.

8: Log out of websites, and avoid transactions on public networks

Pretty much everyone uses smartphones for shopping and banking transactions. It is a natural evolution as doctors now spend more time on mobile devices than desktop computers. And, there is no turning back. But, you just need to be a little bit careful when making these transactions. This includes making sure you log out of websites after each transaction, not storing any login information on your mobile device, and avoiding any banking or shopping transaction on public Wi-Fi.

Do you use other ways to protect your mobile device and data? Please share with the community in comments below.

Food for thought: Should doctors learn more about nutrition?

Let food be thy medicine”

In terms of long life, this phrase is a powerful prescription for patients. In the following video, Dr. Michael Greger explains why most doctors do not know much about nutrition, and why most  medical schools do not provide enough nutrition training. Dr Greger emphasizes on the fact that an average medical school just provides 5 hours of nutrition training to the doctors. He also explains that there is no mandate for the doctors to learn about nutrition. Most doctors today do not really discuss about diet and nutrition interventions with their patients.

The root cause of this problem usually starts with the medical training. Research indicates that less than 30% of medical schools today meet federal recommendations for nutrition education. However, it is important for doctors to know more about nutrition, as food choices can prevent risk factors for many illnesses, such as cancer. If you spend just 5 minutes of your time with patients to discuss about nutrition, it can produce long-lasting results.  “Nutrition is a core component of modern medical practice,” says Kelly M. Adams, who is a leading author and a registered dietitian.  

Proper nutrition can prevent various diseases and it is equally important for physicians to learn about effective nutritional interventions. In a recent survey of physicians, report suggests that less than 25% of them felt capable to discuss diet and exercise, and that less than one in eight visits included nutritional counseling. There have been several examples where nutrition and dietary counseling have considerably improved the condition of patients across illnesses. It has been proved that cholesterol levels were reduced by half in patients who were committed to changing their health through diet and lifestyle alterations after nutrition counseling from their doctors. Proper nutrition plays an important role in prevention and treatment of various kinds of diseases.

Many patients look up to physicians for guidance or advice on diet and physical activity. But, most doctors surveyed felt uncomfortable or are not prepared to provide nutrition counseling to their patients. This is due to the lack of knowledge of basic nutrition science facts and understanding of potential nutrition interventions. The National Academy of Sciences has recommended that medical students must get at least 25 hours of training about nutrition. Many health conditions, such as heart ailment, obesity, cancer, and stroke are related to patient diet. So, it is extremely important for patients to seek nutritional advice on how to lose weight, or how to reduce cholesterol levels. However, if the doctors are not properly trained to provide that advice – who else will?

Here are the best and worst states for doctors to work in 2016

Is your state favorable to your practice? While most doctors don’t have an option to move to another state, it is good to know how your state ranks. WalletHub analysts compared all 50 states and DC on 11 different criteria to come up with the ranking of the best and worst states for doctors to practice. The results might be surprising for some as Mississippi, Iowa and Minnesota take the top three spots, while New York and DC sit right at the bottom.

For Cost of Living-Adjusted Mean Annual Wage for Physicians, Mississippi had the highest wage, while District of Columbia had the lowest. Mississippi also had the lowest competition for physicians, while DC, Rhode Island and Vermont tied for the highest competition. Another relevant criteria analyzed by WalletHub was the Cost of Malpractice Liability Insurance – Wisconsin offered the least expensive insurance, while New York had the highest cost.

See below for full results – courtesy WalletHub.






Should Pediatricians Screen Children for Poverty?

It’s not a direct medical condition, but experts say poverty can have a major impact on children’s health, and doctors should be asking families about their financial situation

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that pediatricians start assessing children for their poverty status. The screening begins with a single question — asking parents whether they have difficulty making ends meet at the end of the month.

One in five U.S. children live in poverty, and the academy says that there is growing evidence that the stress of not having safe and secure housing, regular meals and a stable home environment can lead to significant health problems.

via Pediatricians Should ‘Screen’ Kids for Poverty, Says Group | TIME.

Should kids be able to opt-out of all vaccines? Some doctors think so..

Seattle doctors are making national headlines for suggesting children should be able to opt-out of all vaccines except for measles.

The proposal — by Douglas J. Opel, Matthew P. Kronman, Douglas S. Diekema, Edgar K. Marcuse, Jeffrey S. Duchin, Eric Kodish — was published in the distinguished medical journal Pediactrics. It is contrary to widely-held medical thinking about vaccines and law.

“Efforts to restrict parents’ ability to exempt children from receiving vaccinations required for school entry have recently reached a pinnacle,” the proposal reads. “The American Medical Association voiced support for eliminating nonmedical exemptions (NMEs) from school vaccine requirements, and California enacted legislation doing so. Although laudable in their objective, policies eliminating NMEs from all vaccines are scientifically and ethically problematic. In the present article, we argue for an exemption policy that eliminates NMEs just for the measles vaccine (MV) and is pursued only after other less restrictive approaches have been implemented and deemed unsuccessful.”

Kids who attend public school must be immunized against 11 diseases, but the doctors say that takes away families’ freedom to make health decisions, a common refrain from anti-vaccination parents.

Parents in Washington can opt out their kids of vaccines for medical, philosophical, or religious reasons.

The doctors say vaccination laws are missing the point, because they should be focusing on vaccination of measles. Here’s the video:

via Seattle doctors: Kids should be able to opt-out of all vaccines except for measles | KIRO-TV.

Will CDC Guidelines Help Curb Opioid Epidemic?

In a major news this week, CDC for the first time asked doctors to limit prescribing opioid drugs. This is an effort to control the drug addition epidemic in North America. Many claim that Pharmaceutical companies have led us to this epidemic by convincing physicians to prescribe more pain killers. Now, CDC says that the risks of these pain killers far outweigh benefits for chronic pain patients.

What do you think? Is it an epidemic? How did we lead to this epidemic? Are these guidelines a step in the right direction?

Statistics are staggering – over 40 patients die every day of opioid overdoses, over 250 million prescriptions written every year, use of opioids has increased four times over the last 15 years, and close to 2 million americans are addicted, or rely on these painkillers.

Here are the 12 guidelines issued by CDC – opioid prescription guidelines. They do not apply to scripts written for patients receiving cancer, palliative, or end-of-life care. Also, these guidelines are simply recommendations and physicians are not required to follow them. But, they definitely have an impact on insurance companies’ recommendations for physicians, and will likely help in reducing number of prescriptions written every year.

Three primary directions provided in the guidelines are as follows:

  1. For most patients, opioids should be prescribed as a last option, with other pain medicines like aspirin as a replacement, and patients should be encouraged to follow an exercise regime.
  2. Doses of these medicines should be as low as possible, and when required, should be increased at a slow pace.
  3. Everyone on opioids should be monitored and there has to be a plan to getting them off the drugs.


Can Permissionless Innovation Improve Healthcare?

In the following video, Adam Thierer, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center talks about the concept of Permissionless Innovation.

Some of the services that enable Doctors On Demand model (or Uber for Doctors) are seeing good results, but there are tremendous battles in the form of government regulation and bureaucracy for technology startups trying to innovate. Adam provides example of telemedicine companies that are facing tough regulations in some states, and makes a case that healthcare startups should be allowed to innovate like any other technology startup.

We do think he has valid points because all these regulations requiring companies to get approvals and licenses every step of the way are mere bottlenecks. As Adam points out, these restrictions lead to fewer services, higher costs, and less access to health care. But, allowing such innovation means big changes for the healthcare systems. Is it even possible? Please watch the video and share your thoughts in comments..

via Doctors On Demand: Would You Use an Uber for Doctors? – YouTube.

To Radically Redesign Health Care, Start with One Unit

Redesign healthcare one unit

It is a widely held belief among health care leaders that comparing their hospitals and clinics to peers is very important. Benchmarking seems to assure leaders that as long as their organization’s performance is 50% of the national average or better, things are okay. But U.S. health care quality and safety is abysmal: The evidence suggests that between 240,000 to 400,000 deaths occur each year due to medical errors. Probably more go unreported. Therefore “50% or better” performance is no consolation for patients.

Leaders should count every instance of patient harm as a personal affront. A better way to focus on the right results for patients is to set targets of zero and 100% — by which I mean zero hospital-acquired infections after surgery or 100% of patients getting the right care. For example, before performing every operation the surgical team should conduct a “time-out” 100% of the time to ensure that everyone agrees that they are operating on the correct patient  and are performing the correct procedure on the right site and that any questions or concerns that any team member might have are addressed. In addition, the team should follow a surgical checklist 100% of the time.

Once you know that zero is the goal, you will realize that achieving it is unlikely in your current system. If you trace every error back to its source, you will be following a trail of confusion and broken processes. Tightening that ship will not get you to zero. Radical redesign of care-delivery processes is the only way to change an organization’s expectations.

via To Radically Redesign Health Care, Start with One Unit.