An intriguing article was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- one of the most prestigious (more on “prestige” later) journals around -- with the provocative title, “Rescuing U.S. Biomedical Research from Its Systemic Flaws.” That this was written by some of our country’s most well-respected scientists provides credibility to this challenging and thought-provoking critique. The piece ...

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As I walked home last night I glanced up at the evening sky of Dominica. Twinkling down at me was what seemed like a surprisingly bright star compared to all the rest. It couldn’t be a plane because planes very rarely fly over this Caribbean island. It seemed to be stationary so it couldn’t be a meteor. Confused, I pulled out the sky map on my iPhone and discovered it was ...

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If you pay close attention to medical education and training, you have surely read something like this as an goal or learning objective: “Manage inflammatory bowel disease and its complications.” However, this is not exactly what our goals should be. One push in the patient-centered care community has been changing the focus from managing the disease to managing the patient who has (or might have) the disease. The difference in wording is subtle, but it gets more ...

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We recently took our last exam as first-year medical students. Sitting in the same library that I used to as a pre-medical student, I thought about what it was, exactly, that changed this year. For me, the point of transition from pre-med to med student really happened over last Thanksgiving break. I had come home from my first term of medical school more ready for my mom’s hugs and homemade banana bread ...

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I was on the cusp of my first year in medical school, and time was running out. Classes started in two weeks. I needed a place to live: Ideally someplace cheap, not too far from school. There was an opening at Phi Chi medical fraternity, a large brick house of faded elegance located less than a block from my classes at the University of Minnesota. At $75 a month for a ...

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I recently read an article entitled, “Are you a victim of patient profiling?” and it got me thinking about my medical school career thus far, particularly my recent preparations for USMLE step 1. Patient profiling is part of medical school curriculum. Many of the practice questions that I’ve done for Step 1 have relied on patient profiling (a euphemism for prejudice I believe) to get the correct answer. If the question starts ...

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I've been a practicing oncologist for all of seven months, and so was surprised when my chief asked that I take part in our quality review panel. The quality review panel is an internal group that is tasked with the responsibility of looking into allegations that a patient's care was not in keeping with best practice or what is generally considered the standard of care. Cases (often in the form ...

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This quarter of medical school has by far been my favorite, because almost everything we do has an explicit clinical correlation. Each week we work in small groups of 10 or so students to go over patient cases, practice respiratory and cardiovascular (our two organ blocks this quarter) physical exam skills, and interface with real patients in the hospital. These experiences have been both exciting and humbling, and two in ...

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A few months ago, we had an opportunity for one-on-one time with standardized patients (SPs): the trained actors that are well-versed in how us medical school fledglings should and shouldn’t be performing physical exams. It was a laid-back, non-graded session wherein we could ask for advice and even have the SPs walk us through exactly what we should do. So, when it came time for the abdominal exam, I asked my ...

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"Ultimately, I am convinced that in my future lies not simply a profession performed ably, but a vocation performed lovingly and devotedly." Soon, after the coming pomp and circumstance fade into fond memories and well-framed photographs, I will be in the hospital. Soon, I will have my own patients in the clinic. With these occasions, life will be what I hoped it once would be some years ago – being a ...

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