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"For the first time in history, the current generation of young adults in our nation is less healthy than their parents." This startling statement  introduces Catherine Florio Pipas's clarion call for personal health accountability. In A Doctor's Dozen, Florio Pipas, a professor of community and family medicine at Dartmouth, demonstrates that many modern health concerns can be attributed to preventable behaviors and lifestyle choices. She outlines the most common of these preventable issues and prescribes a three-pronged strategy for tackling each through the lenses of self-awareness, self-care, and self-improvement. She presents a holistic approach that influences well-being on every level.

Thank you for the gift of your inspirational book! I have read many books and articles on wellness and heard numerous presentations. You have written the most memorable, useful and authentic one, not only for physicians but, as your cover suggests, for all in health care. Your book is well organized, the stories flow smoothly and are very illustrative of common struggles. You provide a wealth of up-to-date information and resources. In addition, your outstanding writing style far exceeds your grandmothers assessment and reminds me of Dr. Victoria Sweet.
I believe your book should be, as Larry Bauer suggests, a primer for all medical students and residents. If there is anything I can do to promote your book or the significant work you are doing, it would be an honor.


--Dr. Mike Gaudiose , Chairman- Committee on Continuing Professional Development- PAFP

In this remarkable book, Dr. Catherine Pipas shares the stories from her medical practice that dramatically changed twelve patients' lives, and in the process, changed her life as well. Her path toward physician wellness was carved by deeply listening to her patients' stories with empathy and compassion. This book offers meaningful insights and tips on how to enhance physical, emotional and spiritual health.

--Empathetics January 2020 New Year Issue of The Ripple Effect

Dr. Pipas offers a comprehensive approach to her patients. She has integrated medical problem solving with a broad range of skills and abilities that allow her to respond to her patient’s acute and chronic needs as she offers a relationship that can help them address the deeper issues that impact their health and wellbeing. This book is a primer for all those who seek to learn about the art and science of healing. The book will help the neophyte clinician become oriented to the work of primary care. It will also be of value to the experienced clinician looking to expand his/her helping skills repertoire.”


                             —Laurence Bauer, MSW, MEd, Chief Executive Officer, Family Medicine Education Consortium

“Doctor heal thyself” may sound like a cliché, but A Doctor’s Dozen is a must read for everyone who wants a practical and entertaining guide to physical, mental and spiritual health.  The stories are compelling and you will want to read, underline and follow these simple guidelines to a healthier and more fulfilling life.

—Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, President and CEO, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health

Weaving in patient stories, thoughtful insights and scientific research, Dr. Pipas outlines twelve ‘lessons’ to improve one’s health and well-being through enhancing self-awareness, self-care and self-improvement. The vignettes are poignant and the lessons profound. You don’t need to be a ‘doctor’ to benefit from

A Doctor’s Dozen. Adapt Dr. Pipas’s twelve strategies into your life and you will be happier and healthier.

—Aviad Haramati, PhD, Professor of Physiology and Medicine, and Director, Center for Innovation and Leadership in Education (CENTILE) Georgetown University School of Medicine

Thank you for the privilege and honor of reviewing these materials. It has been a gift to me. This is an important book that needs to be written and those who access it will be blessed with your wisdom. This will be an important resource for many.  Keeping our current and future workforce healthy is a huge gift for our patients, families, and communities.

—Stanley M Kozakowski, M.D., FAAFP | Director, Medical Education Division, American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)  2017

Thank you for including me in this incredibly rewarding process! I have learned so much by reading your lessons, and I look forward to seeing them applied in my life. Your work is an inspiration!

                                                                                        —Jenny Blue, Chairman of English, Kimball Union Academy 2017


Cathy Pipas reminds us that the cure for burnout is love, first and foremost for ourselves, as well as for our family, friends, and yes, our patients. Wellbeing is less the result of happy circumstances, than of the determination to keep our hearts open through unhappy circumstances. This book will make me a healthier person and better doctor.

—Ira Byock, MD, Active Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Community & Family Medicine, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth; author of Dying Well and The Best Care Possible

Refreshing, relevant, and highly applicable, the lessons contained within A Doctor’s Dozen have the potential to truly heal.  It is a clear and compassionate guide for anyone searching for greater health and balance. Dr. Pipas shows us through authentic narratives and heartfelt advice how to better care for ourselves, and by doing so care for others, and humbly offers this gift out of her own deep commitment to the health and well-being of her patients.

Michael S Krasner MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine, Professor of Clinical Family Medicine,

University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

A Doctor's Dozen is an insightful account of how health care workers can employ strategies for success and satisfaction in their professional and personal lives. Pipas (Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth) offers the following 12 strategies: be present, ask questions, build resilience, write your story, fill your own tank, establish trusting relationships, replenish 24-7, nurture a healthy environment, embrace change, make healthy and authentic choices, rewrite your story, and celebrate the journey. She illustrates each principle with stories from her own experience as a family physician as well as stories from patients and colleagues. Her solutions are well thought out and documented, and should assist all health care workers with their self-awareness, self-care, and self-improvement issues. The book is a fast and interesting read that should be given to all health care professionals to remind them about the importance of mindfulness. The 227 citations in the reference list provide some excellent fodder for further contemplation. Summing up: Highly Recommended to all readers.                               --S. C. Grossman, emeritus, Fairfield University, in Choice Magazine

Dr. Pipas has brilliantly combined her love and knowledge of wellness with evidence-based, practical strategies for improving personal health. The steps leading to better self-care and cultures of wellness are told through stories that illustrate the concepts for implementing these strategies. As I read, I found myself motivated to reflect on how increased attention to mindfulness and self-care can improve my work, relationships, and focus. I plan to share these strategies with others.


                        —Stacy H. Brungardt, CAE, Executive Director and CEO, Society of Teachers of Family Medicine



After her residency at The Medical University of South Carolina, founded in 1824 in Charleston, Dr. Catherine Florio Pipas spent 25 years in a family medicine clinical practice. She is now a professor of community and family medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. Her interest and expertise combine personal health and wellness with community engagement and population health.

In her cordial book, “A Doctor’s Dozen: Twelve Strategies for Personal Health and a Culture of Wellness,” Pipas’ underlying emphasis is “Self-Care,” which begins with self-awareness and leads to self-improvement. This compendium of case studies is drawn largely “from patients and colleagues on my own journey toward wellness and quest to promote health and self-care in others.”

The setting is her office, where she has learned these lessons of wellness up close and personal. Each of the lessons (“strategies,” she labels them) can be applied to advance the pursuit of an individual’s health.


First, the good news. Achievements in research, public health, medicine and medical technology have led to a 30-year gain in life expectancy between 1900 and 2000. Advances in vaccines, antibiotics, safety policies, education about tobacco, reductions in tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, hepatitis, lead poisoning and cervical cancer have been significant.

Extending average life expectancy today in the United States starts at 79 years of age. Extending life expectancy to 150 by the year 2250 requires changing personal behaviors. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2020, two-thirds of all causes of death worldwide will be the result of lifestyle choices. Pipas writes that living longer creates a paradox, requiring all of us to take better care of ourselves over a longer period.

“Addressing threats to health and promoting healthy habits such as an active lifestyle, healthy diet, and routine sleep are vital,“ she writes. Changing high-risk behaviors is critical. These include quitting smoking, reducing substance abuse, practicing safe sex, and managing chronic stress. WHO defines health as “complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease,” Pipas writes.

Physical health, she stresses, “includes realizing that cardiovascular disease and cancer are largely due to preventable behaviors, such as a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and tobacco use. Obesity is a growing epidemic, and tobacco is viewed as public health enemy No. 1, responsible for half of all cancers and over 70 percent of all deaths.”

Other “healths” she defines as important to overall maintenance ranges in wellness from physical health, spiritual health, emotional health, social health, intellectual health, occupational health and environmental health.

Pipas weaves in stories of her own patients, many of them with cancer, such as a woman she named Hannah. For nine years, Pipas cared for Hannah. During this time, Hannah told Pipas, “It was the cancer that made her mindful and taught her and her family to focus on what mattered: ‘Cherish each day as if it is your last.’ ”

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