Playing in the Band

Playing in the Band

I got my first guitar when I was 14. It was an Alvarez acoustic with an electric pick-up, and I played it every day—at least for a while. I thought it would make me cool and make the girls take notice. But after about a year, when neither of those things had happened, I just about gave up the guitar for good. There simply wasn’t much joy in always playing alone. What revived and has …

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Addressing Without Managing: Defusing the Ticking Time Bombs in Urgent Care

Addressing Without Managing: Defusing the Ticking Time Bombs in Urgent Care

In the world of urgent care, it’s assumed that we exist to provide immediate, episodic care for discrete problems. The sore throat, sprained ankle, and laceration are our bread and butter. However, we do not practice in a vacuum. We share patients with other clinicians who longitudinally follow and manage their multiple comorbidities. Additionally, for the growing number of patients without a primary care provider, we commonly serve as the sole point of contact with …

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When Walk-Ins Aren’t Welcome

When Walk-Ins Aren’t Welcome

Patient volume has always been a delicate topic between the clinical staff and administrators of urgent care centers. It’s no secret who stands where in this ongoing debate. Regardless of each side’s opinions, UC volume has been largely stochastic historically, fluctuating at its own whim without regard for who wishes it were higher or lower. Things are different now, though. Thanks to COVID, UC overcrowding has become the new ED overcrowding—ubiquitous. The large volumes of …

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An Underrecognized Epidemic: Toxic Positivity in Medicine

An Underrecognized Epidemic: Toxic Positivity in Medicine

Joshua Russell, MD, MSc, FCUCM, FACEP A colleague, Dr. Mitchell we’ll call him, told me about a PA that he was supervising recently who made a great catch in a patient with a swollen, blue finger: Achenbach syndrome. When the PA presented the presumptive diagnosis, Dr. Mitchell, unfamiliar with the condition, had to Google it before seeing the patient. Our PA was right, though. The patient walked out of clinic, happy to have a benign …

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Stepping Outside Yourself

Stepping Outside Yourself

Joshua Russell, MD, MSc, FACEP Until recently, I’ve had the rare luxury of working in busy urgent care centers where I was virtually always working side-by-side with another provider. However, with changes in my career and UC staffing models in the wake of the pandemic, I find myself working in single coverage situations the majority of the time nowadays. While I do miss the camaraderie of multi-coverage practice, I miss the unfettered access to a …

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The Last Hour Problem

The Last Hour Problem

It’s 8 pm and I’m 9 hours into a 10-hour shift when four new patients walk in. Even though I’m feeling drained, I smile warmly as each passes my workstation. I “eyeball” them each as they walk by; my grin persists because they all seem stable and my “TUR” for this shift in the emergency department is now only 45 minutes away. TUR (or “time until relief”) is a metric I continuously track with ruthless …

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The Unvaccinated Aren’t the Enemy

The Unvaccinated Aren’t the Enemy

Taylor wore her embroidered sorority sweatshirt and a mask below her nose when she came to see me. She was 19 and had just finished her freshman year at the local university. Her story was cliché, as well: cough, runny nose, and sore throat “that wouldn’t go away.” She’d been sick for 8 days and she’d come in to get antibiotics. This isn’t a story about antibiotic stewardship, though. “Have you been tested or vaccinated …

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ICYMI: A Rational System for Charting Has Finally Arrived

ICYMI: A Rational System for Charting Has Finally Arrived

Remember the fall of last year—when the nation and world pined for an expedient end to 2020, as if such an arbitrary change as turning a page on the calendar could somehow reverse our collective fortune? Unsurprisingly when January 2021 arrived, all our woes were not magically and immediately remedied. In fact, the start of this year was among the most grim in U.S. history: nearly a quarter of a million new cases were being …

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A Crisis of Trust

The conversation was going nowhere. After 15 minutes of explaining my concerns about the possibility of COVID-19, the lack of indication for antibiotics, the unreliability of rapid testing, I was no closer to satisfying my patient, Mrs. Fletcher, than when I first introduced myself. Joan Fletcher was a 40-something working mother of three who came to urgent care on a mission, as many patients do. The reason for her visit: an antibiotic prescription and a …

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Why Don’t You Take A Break?

Why Don’t You Take A Break?

I took up smoking for about 6 months in college, but not for the reasons you’d guess. This was during my freshman year shortly after I got a job waiting tables. It was a hard job. There was always work to be done—refill a drink, check how the food was cooked, and, most importantly, bring the check post-haste when the customers wanted to leave. The shifts always seemed like a blur. I’d run around non-stop …

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