It is time to stop blaming the problems in healthcare on a lack of resilience in providers and start looking at how the healthcare system needs to change.

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Illustration by Jennifer Bogartz

“Guys, I’m getting nothing up here,” the anesthesiologist said — words you never want to hear in the OR.

The patient was a college-age male shot in the abdomen during a botched burglary. He had an entrance wound above and to the right of his umbilicus. There was no exit wound, but an x-ray showed the bullet lodged in a vertebral body. I was not the surgeon on call, but the on-call…


Confidence is knowing your can control yourself even when you can’t control the outcome.

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Photo by JAFAR AHMED on Unsplash

Pale, colorless skin transected by a web of blotchy purple lines. The patient on the operating table looked like he was already dead. The monitor displaying his vital signs didn’t look much better.

“I can’t give him any anesthesia,” the anesthesiologist said, matter of factly. “Just a little muscle relaxant.”

“I understand,” I replied. With his hold on life so tenuous, even a little anesthesia would be enough to make his heart stop. “I’ll get you some surgical stimulation in a minute.”

The nurse slashed brown…


Is there a definitive approach to happiness? Or should you strive for a balance between two theories?

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Photo by author (Chuck Black Photography)

Happiness is a topic debated by philosophers for more than two thousand years. Today we can benefit from research telling us how best to combine ancient wisdom to pursue a more satisfactory life.

Two Main Schools of Happiness

Philosophy has formed into two primary schools of thought on happiness. The first is Hedonia, the idea of basing a happy life on perusing pleasure and avoiding pain. The second school is Eudaemonia, which involves pursuing your personal best in the service to a goal more significant than yourself.

Both schools have had their adherents and detractors, but recently science has turned its microscope onto the issue…


The debate between pleasure and purpose has gone on for millennia. Can science help us put the debate to rest?

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Photo by author (Chuck Black Photography)

Self-help books and gurus offer a dizzying amount of advice promising to make you happier. The reality is, this is all just a continuation of a debate that goes back 2,000 years to the time of ancient Greece. But thanks to modern science, we may finally have an answer as to which approach is best.

Today we are assaulted with a mind-numbing amount of advice on how to be happier. I see it splashed on the covers of supermarket tabloids, on the shelves of every bookstore, and on the nightly news where some new miracle trick to happiness is coming…


Learn how you really made moral decisions in the past and how you can do better in the future.

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Photo by Charles Black, courtesy of Chuck Black Photography

A subway train is hurtling down the tracks, and there are five people in the tunnel ahead with no means of escape. The train can’t stop in time, and the five people in the tunnel will die. But you can switch the train onto a different track so that it will spare the five people in the tunnel. The only problem is that one person on the alternate line will die if you switch tracks. Do you throw the switch?

The above scenario is a classic example of a morality problem. In life, we rarely have the option of choosing…


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Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

“When does the good part start?” I asked myself. Along with questions like, “How much longer can this go on?” and “Is this really all there is to life?”

I found myself asking these questions daily. I had been working hard for more than a decade and had become successful, so why wasn’t I happy? The answer was that I was using the wrong formula to achieve happiness.

As a child, I could not have dessert until I cleaned my plate. The sweet treat of dessert was a reward for eating my less palatable vegetables. …


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The author at work, photo courtesy of Chuck Black Photography

Our challenges make us who we become. Thus we should welcome them rather than shy away. This article will explain why and how.

Think about Superman at the beginning of his story. He’s pretending to be mild-mannered Clark Kent. He wears glasses, a tweed jacket and a fedora while writing average copy for a city newspaper. In his spare time, he pines for a beautiful and talented reporter who has no idea he’s interested in her. I’m sure he is a nice guy, but let’s be honest, he is no Superman.

Then along comes Lex Luther. This super-genius has evil…


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Image from Canva

“Vitamin D deficiency is behind people getting sick from COVID.” It was more of an attack than a statement.

I had heard the theory before but was not aware of any reliable data to support it. So I asked, “How do you know that?”

Ready for my rebuff, he waved his phone in my face. It showed an article from a website I had never heard of reporting on a study from a hospital in Spain. The article was short on details about the research and long on Vitamin D’s benefits in general. …


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Image by Charles Black, courtesy of Chuck Black Photography

As a surgeon, I don’t fear COVID-19, but I do respect it. It is the same way that I respect other viral diseases like Hepatitis and HIV. If I feared these illnesses, I would never have entered an occupation that exposed me to them. But, I take the risk seriously and wear gloves, gowns, masks, and safety glasses. I use accepted techniques to keep myself and everyone else in the operating room safe. I got my hepatitis B vaccination and encouraged others to do the same. I don’t fear these illnesses, but I do respect them.

I also respect COVID-19…


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Featured in Op-Med, a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

“We don’t know what else to do, so we’re calling you,” is what the PA said when she called me to the ER.

“I don’t think anything but a surgery can tell us what is wrong with this patient,” said the ED MD when I got there.

The patient in question was a 53-year-old man whose official weight, recorded in the computer, was 546 pounds and (I’m not making this up) 4.8 ounces — as if that last 4.8 ounces made all the difference. He filled out a…

Charles Black M.D.

Dr. Charles Black is a general surgeon, author, photographer, outdoorsman, world traveler and fireside philosopher. Website:https://chuckbphilosophy.com

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