Learn how his sister’s illness and death made this neurosurgeon a better doctor.
My guest Dr. Joseph Stern is a partner in the country’s largest neurosurgical group practice in Greensboro, North Carolina. While he has frequently worked with patients and families facing life-limiting illness, his experiences at the bedside of his sister during her nearly one-year ordeal with leukemia, changed everything for him. He shares how his own medical practice was affected by what he learned about the patient’s perspective on end-of-life care and how he envisions our medical system needs to shift in order to improve the care being offered to all patients. He is the author of Grief Connects Us: A Neurosurgeon’s Lessons on Love, Loss, and Compassion. Learn more about his work at his website:
This episode includes:
- The shock Dr. Stern experienced when viewing medical care through the eyes of a terminal patient
- Why he wished his sister’s doctors had discussed her terminal prognosis with her
- How to balance hope with reality when facing terminal illness
- The additional lessons
- he learned as healthcare proxy for his brother-in-law who suffered a brain aneurysm
- The definition of “emotional agility” and why it should be taught to all medical students
- How to improve empathy and communication skills for medical providers
- Why palliative care should be started much earlier for all patients facing potential life-limiting illness
- How Dr. Stern has changed his own approach to patients in light of what he has learned
- How empathy and compassion can actually prevent burnout for medical providers rather than cause it
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Dr. Stern’s book: Grief Connects Us
- Dr. Stern’s Booksigning Event
- My new podcast What Really Matters
- Sign up for the 2021 online reading group A Year of Reading Dangerously at this link
- Support your local bookstore by buying my books on Bookshop and Indiebound: 7 Lessons for Living from the Dying and The Journey from Ego to Soul
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- Check out the Series I’ve recorded in the past here
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