Monthly Archives: February 2011

Foodie Friday: Worcester Dining

Is Upton Metro West or Worcester? I guess it could be considered either. At any rate, there’s a new restaurant in Upton, Red Rock Grill and Bar, and I happened to dine there recently on only the 2nd weekend it was open. We had 4 diners with 4 different dinners with rave reviews all around. Cozy atmosphere, fun cocktails, hearty comfort food. I’m sure it will be a welcome addition to the area.

I think this was a special that night. Amazing maple sweet potatoes!

This was my entree. You can't see the crispy polenta under the eggplant but they were delicious!

**Disclaimer: We paid for our meals in full. I was not asked to write about the restaurant nor did I disclose that I like to sometimes pretend I’m a food blogger! I’m just letting some of my Worcester area friends and colleagues know about a new dining option!

Foodie Friday: a mess in the kitchen

Have you noticed there’s not too much fun and exciting coming out of The Doctors’ Rheum’s kitchen these days? Let’s just say that mountains of snow coupled with a cold and flu season that just doesn’t want to quit have kept my tastebuds away from adventure.

I was sick, so I made myself some chicken soup. Cut up a rotisserie chicken, pour in some canned broth, dice up carrots and celery and add some noodles (I used whole wheat wide egg noodles) and for good measure toss in some chopped fresh parsley and dill. I wouldn’t have thought to add the dill, but it was in the fridge for some reason and was actually really good! Looking back at the photo I guess there were onions in it too. It didn’t help the cold.

I also made this apple cake. Twice. The first time because I had apples and yogurt and oatmeal, the soup didn’t help and I thought cake sounded good. It’s a very moist coffee cake that tastes healthy but also is quite sweet. You probably don’t need as much brown sugar as is called for in the topping. Once I used coarsely chopped pecans and the second time I made the cake (a week later, for a luncheon), I used more finely chopped almonds.

Finally, the other day I played that game where you see what you have at home and try to make something with it because you just don’t want to go to the store. I don’t know if it’s chili or stew or what, but I threw together a mixture of a caramelized onion, 2 roasted sweet potatoes cut in cubes, a can of dark kidney beans, 3 roasted carrots and a large freezer bag of chopped up frozen tomatoes leftover from the summer’s CSA. The leftovers were even better, once topped with an over-easy egg and once with some Laughing Cow chipotle (in my opinion their best flavor, and apparently somewhat new) mixed in. You don’t want to see a photo – it just looks like red and orange mush, but it was GOOD!

If you want to see something creative coming out of a kitchen, you’ll have to follow one of my favorite sites, like shutterbean, The Pioneer Woman or Good Cook Doris. Here’s looking to spring and the day the snow piles melt from around my grill . . .

The difference between men and women?

Many of the medbloggers I follow have chimed in on the recent discussion about the difference between male and female physicians’ salaries. However, I thought I’d repost the entry from KevinMD for some of my non-medblogger readers. Really fascinating and I totally agree! Here’s the post in its entirety, but also the comments are worth a read. Thanks, Dr. Kevin!

Female doctors make less than male physicians.

That conclusion gained major media traction recently.  A recent post on KevinMD.com by medical student Emily Lu had some great conversation discussing some reasons why women make less money in medicine.

To recap, the study from Health Affairs concluded that,

newly trained physicians who are women are being paid significantly lower salaries than their male counterparts according to a new study. The authors identify an unexplained gender gap in starting salaries for physicians that has been growing steadily since 1999, increasing from a difference of $3,600 in 1999 to $16,819 in 2008. This gap exists even after accounting for gender differences in determinants of salary including medical specialty, hours worked, and practice type, say the authors.

Everyone hypothesized all sorts of reasons.  Female doctors prefer more family-friendly hours and less call, which may impact their salary.  Women are simply worse negotiators than men.  Blatant sexism exists when hiring new physicians.  Money isn’t as important to women as it is to men.

All of which may, or may not, be true.

Of course, the reasons probably are multi-factorial.  But there’s one that I haven’t seen discussed much.

Women, in general, spend more time with patients — up to 10% more.  Pauline Chen, in a New York Times column last year, noted stark differences in how men and women practice medicine, and whether, in fact, women make better doctors by spending more time in the exam room.

So, even though women may work the same number of hours as their male counterparts, they’re likely to see less patients during that time.  And since physician compensation is still mostly based on fee for service or productivity-based incentives, women doctors are going to come up short on compensation scale.

As I commented to CBS News, “By spending more time with patients, female physicians are financially penalized by seeing less patients during the day.  It’s another reason why we need to change the way doctors are paid, and reward them for spending time with patients, instead of penalizing them.”

Now I’m just angry!

High on the list of things making me angry is the weather. A foot of snow each week? Really, Mother Nature? Really? Global warming or not, it’s wearing on us. I’ve tried making idle threats against the earth, which go something like this – “Make the snow stop or I swear I’ll never recycle anything ever again! Look at me holding this peanut butter jar! It’s going in the TRASH. That not enough for ya? OK, I can do better. Here’s a laundry detergent bottle! OOOOH all that plastic, bobbing around in your oceans. Gonna stop the snow now???” Yeah, well, I think all the snow is making me loopy. Not to mention that we’ve had so many snow days causing patient cancellations that it’s really fouling up everyone’s schedules.

What else makes me angry? An article with the headline “Docs Don’t Follow OA Guidelines.” Why so accusatory? In my mind that headline assumes there’s a bunch of guys smoking cigars sitting around a table saying, “To hell with guidelines! We don’t care about guidelines! We’re doing what we want!” (I don’t know why it’s like a 1920’s mobster scene, but that’s my vision here).

Here’s the first paragraph:

Physicians are apparently disregarding standard guidelines to manage osteoarthritis — relying on painkillers and surgery rather than on steps like exercise and weight loss that could help reduce morbidity — adding to the soaring costs of treating OA, researchers argued.

Let’s think about that for a minute. A patient comes in with osteoarthritic knee pain. Usually it hurts when getting up after sitting for a while, hurts going up and down stairs. Maybe they’re already active and it hurts when exercising. Maybe it used to respond to an OTC analgesic but isn’t anymore.

I am fairly certain that most doctors almost always if not always counsel patients with OA about diet and exercise. I’ve given the “even a little bit of weight loss would help take some pressure off your knees” talk so many times I wouldn’t be surprised if I say it in my sleep. But here’s the clincher – diet and exercise are the PATIENT’S responsibility. I can’t go home with you and cook your food (though I can help you find some great internet resources for healthy eating) and I can’t take you to the gym. I have enough trouble getting myself out to exercise and to avoid the lure of the office candy bowl! But when patients come to the doctor they expect us to DO something. Dieting and exercise are slow. They’re hard to do. Your knee still hurts when you’re exercising. Painkillers, injections and even surgery can help you feel better as youre working on healthier lifestyle modifications. So please don’t tell me that I’m “disregarding guidelines” by recommending other treatment options. I’m just trying to help.

Back Pain

Much of the country is digging out from a massive winter storm and news stories about protecting your back while shoveling are everywhere. This story from Boston.com talks about why MRIs are often unnecessary in the assessment of back pain.