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Joan Naidorf, DO, Emergency Medicine, Alexandria, VA


Emergency Medicine Alexandria, VA

Author of Changing How we Think About Difficult Patients

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  • I wrote a book!
    Changing how we Think About
    Difficult Patients:
    A Guide for Physicians and Healthcare Professionals
    by Joan Naidorf DO
    Published by the American Academy of Physician Leadership
    Coming in 2022

    Physicians, nurses and other clinical professionals begin their careers with the highest of hopes and ideals for compassionate and efficient patient care. Along the way, consistent problems arise in their interactions with difficult patients. We get so frustrated and so discouraged that a lot of us start planning our career exit strategy.

    What’s to be done about the problem?
    It turns out that a lot can be done. By looking at the expectations we place on good patients and then the areas where things go awry, professionals can gain a lot of insight in to the negative thoughts and feelings that we ourselves create in our interactions with difficult patients. Some of the negative thoughts that professionals harbor about difficult patients are learned during their training and become unhelpful and destructive thought habits. The negative feelings that professionals have towards their difficult patients leads to frustration, cynicism and burn-out.

    With the introduction of a modern approach to habit change and thought management, professionals can learn to manage their thoughts about the patients who challenge them. They can accept their patients just as they are and just how they present in the chaotic setting of the emergency department, clinic, or hospital unit.
    My mission is to teach health care professionals how to value themselves more as they change the way that they think about difficult patients.

Education & Training

  • Albert Einstein Healthcare Network
    Albert Einstein Healthcare NetworkResidency, Emergency Medicine, 1987 - 1989
  • Albert Einstein Healthcare Network
    Albert Einstein Healthcare NetworkInternship, Internal Medicine, 1986 - 1987
  • Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
    Philadelphia College of Osteopathic MedicineClass of 1985

Certifications & Licensure

  • VA State Medical License
    VA State License 1989 - 2024
  • AOA Board of Emergency Medicine Emergency Medicine

Publications & Presentations


Books/Book Chapters

Authored Content

  • Some doctors don’t like some patientsJuly 2022
  • I'll Never Forget This Patient's LegDecember 2020
  • Why I'm No Longer Afraid of Difficult Patient ConversationsDecember 2020
  • It's OK to Die AloneApril 2020
  • It's OK to Die AloneApril 2020
  • ‘Am I Being Played?’ Questions in Emergency MedicineDecember 2019
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Press Mentions

  • How Biased Language and Stigmatizing Labels Affect Patient Care and Treatment
    How Biased Language and Stigmatizing Labels Affect Patient Care and TreatmentMay 23rd, 2023
  • Connecting with the Reality of “Difficult” Patients
    Connecting with the Reality of “Difficult” PatientsOctober 16th, 2022
  • Influenza: A Deadly Risk in Schools Before COVID
    Influenza: A Deadly Risk in Schools Before COVIDMarch 11th, 2021
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Professional Memberships