Titles like chief medical officer, chief operating officer and even chief population health officer are commonplace these days, but the title of “sexiest doctor alive” is likely a new one to most people involved with health care. Mikhail Varshavski, D.O., has held the title courtesy of People magazine since last year, but it was the second-year resident’s enthusiastic use of Instagram and other social media that attracted the attention of New York magazine this week. While many boomer-generation doctors would likely be horrified by some of the photos that Varshavski has posted of himself, among the less-private members of the millennial generation, he’s not all that unusual, and may be at an advantage. As he told New York, “I wanted to show people that doctors are humans too,” adding: “It’s great that we know a lot, and it’s great that we know how to treat people, but if we can’t communicate with them, they’ll never follow our recommendations.”
Sweet dreams are made of this
As evidence linking kids’ physical and neurological development to their quality of sleep intensifies, pediatric hospitals are adjusting their daily bustles to better accommodate children’s rest, Kaiser Health News reports. Chitchats after dark and middle-of-the-night care are discouraged, and staffs promote daytime exercise to help improve their patients' sleep. Caregivers are making efforts to reschedule activities — such as bathing, administering meds and even diverting loud alerts from overhead speakers to nurses’ phones — around their patients’ body cycles rather than their own. But for nurses and doctors whose own circadian rhythms are often accustomed to the night shift, this adjustment requires a change in hospital culture and workflow. So far, anecdotal results are positive, and research indicates that children who sleep soundly require less sedative and anesthetic drugs (which are more dangerous for children) than those who don’t. Although pediatric hospitals aren’t held to the same patient satisfaction scores as facilities that serve adults, they’re discovering that improving their patients’ sleep might just be a competitive advantage.
American death rate rises for first time in over a decade
For the first time in more than a decade, the death rate in the United States ticked upward last year, according to preliminary data released by the CDC this week. That trend was driven by increases in deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and drug overdose, points out U.S. News. As we’ve detailed over the past few months, there is a surging epidemic of deaths tied to heroin and prescription painkillers that took the lives of nearly 30,000 people in 2014, a high-water mark for such deaths. Just recently, we found out that another life was lost to opioids, with news of singer Prince’s death officially being ruled as an opioid overdose. All told, the death inched up to 729.5 per 100,000 people last year, compared to 723.2 the year prior. The last time the death rate increased was back in 2005, according to U.S. News. It previously did so in 1999, 1993 and 1998.
Improve diversity, improve health
More minority mental health care providers are needed if there’s going to be any progress in improving mental health, argues a mental health educator in the HuffingtonPost. With one study finding that 90 percent of behavioral health professionals are non-Hispanic and white, Nicholas Covino, president of William James College, says action is needed immediately and William James is going to do its part by recruiting more minorities. “We have a crisis in mental health care,” James says in the blog.