Author Archives: jmp

Stop yelling, start listening.

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It’s difficult. It’s really, really difficult for me to listen to someone who thinks abortion should be illegal. Or to listen to someone who thinks anyone should be able to download and print a 3D gun. Or to listen to someone who thinks vaccines cause autism and are a conspiracy.

It’s frustrating; it makes me angry; it makes me sad. I usually end up thinking in my head “what is WRONG with this human being?!?!”

But. We have to stop yelling. We have to stop half listening or fake listening. I am guilty of this. I admit it. I consider myself to be a well-informed, well-educated, compassionate woman – but I know in the past I have said I was listening to someone with opposing views to mine – but I really wasn’t. It made me too frustrated, too upset.

But I, we, have to REALLY start to listen to those we disagree with. Our world seems so inflammatory right now. If you watch the news – it makes it seem as if the world is black and white and everyone is at war with the other side. And it seems like we are getting more and more polarized in our views. But the world is so much more complex than that. I really feel like we need to listen to try to understand our opponents before we are so quick to dismiss them. Because all of this yelling at each other is not working.

Aren’t we all human underneath? Don’t we all want a roof over our heads, food to eat, a good life for our children, good health, to practice whatever spirituality we believe and to love whomever we please? Shouldn’t we all get to do this without fear of retaliation? I think it’s possible. We have to listen and try to understand to get there.

Now, all this to say it definitely doesn’t mean I (we) will agree with those we are trying to understand. But maybe we could have a calm discussion instead of ignoring and yelling.

I listened to a great TED talk the other day about this.

One of my favorite quotes was by Zachary Wood. What a brilliant mind.

“It’s my belief that to achieve progress in the face of adversity we need a genuine commitment to gaining a deeper understanding of humanity. I’d like to see a world with more leaders who are familiar with the depths of the views of those they deeply disagree with, so that they can understand the nuances of everyone they’re representing. I see this as an ongoing process involving constant learning and I’m confident that I’ll be able to add value down the line if I continue building empathy and understanding through engaging with unfamiliar perspectives.”

Photo taken in St Simons, GA.



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Because I don’t want my silence mistaken for indifference. There is no place in this world for hate. And really, it just takes immensely more energy to hate than it does to accept and love. Just try love.

  • We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. -Elie Wiesel

And below, some of my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes. In my mind, he is one of the greatest men of all time. His words are so inspiring, so true, he stood up peacefully for what he believed in. He did this in the face of frank personal danger, and he died continuing to be a steadfast defender of equality. There is no man greater than that.

  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
  • I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort or convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  • I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

And perhaps most pertinent and important in the wake of the abhorrent hate in Charlottesville:

  • We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. – MLK, Jr.
  • No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. – Nelson Mandela

Along these lines, I’m trying to find appropriate ways to teach my boys about diversity. As a white parent, I feel this is very important and I want to make sure I’m doing this thoughtfully. I fully recognize the privilege my boys have solely based on their gender and the color of their skin, and I need them to know, understand and be cognizant of this. I want (and am trying) to expose my boys to diversity early on. I want them to have friends of all ages, races, genders and religions. I want them to read books and watch tv shows that have black, asian, hispanic, gay and lesbian characters. Here is a good list from a librarian. This website – Brightly – has some great reading lists as well. I want my boys to see that superman or Santa Claus is (or could be) black just as well as white. I want them to recognize that while others may look different, or worship differently, or speak a different language; that we are all human. And these differences make our world brighter, more interesting and more satisfying. Any recommendations on specific ways, conversations and/or teaching tools to do this would be welcomed.

We are 8 months into our intentions! Are you giving and learning about these great organizations as well?

To reiterate my 2017 resolution: Peace and Love.





On being a doctor and being human

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We are trying.

As physicians, we are taught a certain way. We go to medical school, and go through residency training for most of our young adult life to be able to treat patients in the most scientifically proven way possible. We do this with tremendous empathy, compassion, and thought. We work incredibly hard to learn the science behind the medicine. We try to base our treatments on proven methods which in western or conventional medicine ideally are randomized, double blinded, placebo controlled trials. This means you remove bias and personal experience from the equation. Homeopathic and other alternative medicine, do not base their knowledge and treatments on similar rigorously proven scientific methods. I do believe there is a role and a place for certain types of alternative medicine (acupuncture, chiropractic, naturopathic, to name a few); but it should be complementary to, and not in disagreement with your medical school educated, residency trained, board certified physicians.
If I have a urine infection, I want an internist to prescribe me an antibiotic. If I have breast cancer, I want an oncologist to walk me through the steps and proven methodology of treatment. And if I’m pregnant, I want an obstetrician to deliver my baby. I know the statistics on maternal fetal death during labor, and it’s not worth it to not have an obstetrician at my side. Would I undergo acupuncture to help with the pain of cancer? Sure. Would I employ a midwife and/or doula to aid in my delivery? Perhaps. But would I do any of this without my physicians primarily driving my treatment? No.
Do we physicians have all the answers? No.
Do we make mistakes? Yes. We are human.
Is medicine black and white? I wish. There is so much we don’t know, and don’t understand about medicine. It is an insanely challenging, complex field that is changing daily. What we learned in medical school has changed by the time we get to residency and changed again 10 years into practice. It (frustratingly, I understand) may take many doctors visits before we find the answer for you.
But we are trying our best.
We have stressful jobs. I make important, split second decisions everyday at work. And many times I go home and worry if I’ve done everything right. I worry if my patients are ok. And this is because I’m human.
We are taking care of the most important person on this planet: you; your mother; your father; your sibling; your child. We are not all bad. In fact, most physicians that I know and work with are the most intelligent, compassionate, empathetic group of humans I know. We are trying our best to take the utmost care of you.
Thanks for listening.
And please, for the love of all things on this planet, please vaccinate your children. On schedule. That is all.
waterPhoto from

2017 Intentions

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My original intention for this year was simple. Be peaceful and be kind. But over the last month or so, I’ve decided I need to be more pro-active. And the first step I’m taking is to be more concrete in the institutions I support. Especially when some of these institutions appear to be under attack.

Since it’s clear from this current administration that money talks (hi Betsy DeVos and other millionaire, (in my opinion) unqualified members of the cabinet), let’s make our mark and help support the causes we believe in. Let’s break records for donations and break barriers in order to achieve equality for all. I’ve decided 2017 will be a year that I will be more thoughtful, more dedicated, and more punctual with giving.

I’ve decided, that with my son sitting on my lap, and as I talk him through the steps I’m taking at my computer screen, I will donate to a specific organization each month. I already donate here and there, but I’m hoping that since there will be a schedule to this, and I will make it a process that my kids will do with me, it will last for years and years to come. Obviously, I realize there is more to being active than to throwing money at an organization. And 2017 will be filled with other ways of giving that I will share with my boys. But this is our first step. I have chosen a few international organizations as well some national and local based. I think it’s important to not only support locally, but globally as well. We all live on the same planet.

Here is our 2017 schedule. I hope those that chose to read this will also chose to read about some of these great organizations.

January: ACLU – American Civil Liberties Union: the support they (and many others) gave to those stuck in transit at airports and abroad was the spark for this idea of giving this year. Leo and I have already submitted our donation to the ACLU to keep fighting for those that are most at risk.

February: NPR – National Public Radio: I have been consistently listening to NPR for the last couple of years and I’m a huge fan. When the President calls the media “the enemy of the American people” we need to fight back and support reputable news organizations. The enemy of the American people is certainly not the media. Journalists that ask the tough questions, and report on the easy and the tough stories are ESSENTIAL to a stable democracy. I highly recommend the NPR One app – composed short news stories that are great for a quick commute or a quick run! I also am a paid subscriber to the New York Times – an honorable, honest news company despite what the President may say. And whose current theme on the subscription page is appropriately: “the truth is more important now than ever.”

March: Planned Parenthood: March is Women’s History Month and Wednesday was International Women’s Day. What better group to support this month than Planned Parenthood. This historic (101 years old this year!), necessary, life-saving institution whose foundation rests on helping women has been the subject of intense attacks from everyone from the religious right to certain members of congress and now the most powerful house in the US wants to help defund it. Planned Parenthood’s purpose wrongly gets labeled in the press as that of primarily providing abortions. While they do provide access to this important and necessary procedure in a safe way, there is so much more to this great organization. Please support women, support family planning, support access to cancer screening and preventative care. This is so important.

April: CAIR – Council on American-Islamic Relations: The toxic travel ban proposed and shut down last month by the President is unfortunately not the only discriminatory idea out of this administration. The idea of a Muslim registry, as some in the administration have proposed, is horrifying to me as well. CAIR’s mission (from their website) is “to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” I mean, really, why do people care who their neighbors pray to? Encourage compassion and tolerance. Embrace diversity.

May: Brooklyn Free Clinic: This was started by a few fellow colleagues and friends in my med school class 11 years ago. How they managed to study for exams and rotate through SUNY Downstate and Kings County Hospital while also creating this organization is incredibly mind-blowing to me. They are some bad-ass, superior humans. This clinic serves the low income area surrounding my medical school – SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. It is open (and free) to those without health insurance and is completely student run (with physician oversight). It’s a great organization and one I’m so happy to support and have such close ties to.

June: UNHCR – United Nationals High Council on Refugees: The crisis in Syria has been called the worst humanitarian crisis of our lifetime. There are MILLIONS of people who have fled, there are millions more who are dying for help in Syria. How can we sit idly by and not help those who have been forced from their homes? I just try to imagine making the horrible decision of leaving my home, my family, my country in search of a place where I wouldn’t have to fear for my family’s safety. When Americans (and others) refuse to accept refugees into our borders, I think they forget that these are people who never wanted to leave their home. They were FORCED to flee. Forced to flee for their lives. They arrive to a foreign country speaking a different language, with little to no finances and with usually no family or friends. Can you even imagine this horrific situation? And then to see the people in these countries be upset and unwelcoming must be so heartbreaking. The UNHCR does incredible work, but they need help. This. A wonderful story about a Jewish synagogue in Chicago that raised money to help resettle a Syrian refugee family.

July: AAAS – American Association for the Advancement of Science: Because science is real. Because please don’t ask your doctor for a prescription for azithromycin for your cold (which is likely caused by a virus and antibiotics will have no effect) and then deny or question the existence of global warming. They are both based in science, and they are both based on research and facts. Support science. A list of incredible, smart women who won the Nobel Prize in science.

August: GLAAD – Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation: Love is love. Why discriminate? If you love someone, it shouldn’t matter who that someone is, or identifies as. Love always trumps hate. I want to live in a world where anyone can love, live with, marry, have children with anyone else.

September: NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: Because black lives matter. Because somehow, even in 2017, black Americans face roadblocks that others do not, and it is unacceptable. Black Americans still face discrimination, persecution and are treated as second class citizens. Not by all; but because there are still some who do, we must act.

October: Doctors Without Borders aka MSF – Medecins Sans Frontieres: An incredible organization that needs no description. I have known providers that have worked with MSF and they are among the most selfless humans I know. Providers travel to some of the most war ravaged, dangerous places on Earth to help those with no access to healthcare. They many times risk their own lives to help others. These are true heroes.

November: Pine Street Inn: As the weather gets colder, I want to support a wonderful local organization in Boston. During my training in Emergency Medicine at Boston Medical Center, I treated many homeless patients. Homelessness is a complex process that has roots in mental illness, substance and domestic abuse, among others. Pine Street Inn is a shelter down the street from Boston Medical Center that provides housing and so much more – job training, transition to permanent housing, and many other outreach programs – to almost 2000 residents of Boston everyday. And unfortunately homelessness is not unique to Boston: some information on resources in Fairfax County, Virginia and Washington, DC.

December: Capital Area Food Bank: As the holidays arrive, I want to help make sure there is always food on the table. Inspired by my dad this past Christmas who took us to help prepare holiday meal bags in Fort Myers, Florida, I plan on taking my boys to volunteer this holiday season. No one should be hungry.

Embrace diversity, be kind, be informed, show compassion. And if you are able, please donate.


Baby boy #2

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That you will be entering our lives and turning it upside down in the most magnificent way possible any day now is so very thrilling. Just like your brother before you, we love you so much already, and we haven’t even met you. Although, it’s been recently discovered that mamas have bits and pieces of their son’s DNA in their brains – so our genes have been dancing around together already. I suppose I already do know you a little! Sorry to get scientific on you before you even emerge, but: #parentsaredoctors problems!

Oh little one, you are pretty active, and clearly quite cozy in there right now. You’ve created a daily glass of orange juice craving as well as a taste for strawberry flavored treats in your mama! You’ve already run a half marathon in Dallas, Texas, and you’ve traveled the coast of California, seen the Big Sur forests, splashed on the beaches of Georgia, relaxed in the Palm Springs desert, and explored Nashville.

The world you are entering is a strange, exciting, crazy, wonderful place. And I do sometimes worry about protecting you from the dangers it beholds. But then I have to remind myself that there are so many beautiful things for you to explore. So I’ll have to let go of my fears a little bit. I’m working on it. (Ask your brother).

Your brother, your dad, your dog and I can’t wait to show you this world of ours. So let’s do this, little man. We are ready for you. Here’s hoping and wishing for a safe, uneventful delivery!

Love you so much baby boy.