There is a tremendous amount of handwringing among students, workforce researchers, and medical school deans about the record amount of debt that medical students incur -- more than $175,000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. This has unintended consequences, including student selection of more lucrative specialties and placing medical education beyond the reach of low-income and minority students. The average household income for a matriculating medical student is ...

Read more...

Earlier this year, I started teaching a course to first year pediatric residents at Stanford. In it, I challenge the trainees to identify the structural contexts in which patients and families make choices that may impact their health and well-being. Termed structural competency, the goal is to enable young physicians to understand and confront stigma and inequality as key determinants of health. We talk about ...

Read more...

In his commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College, international affairs journalist and author Fareed Zakaria defended the value of a liberal arts education.  "At its essence," explained Zakaria, "a liberal education is an education to free the mind from dogma, from controls, from constraints.  It is an exercise in freedom."  His speech, I imagine, was well received and much appreciated by the over 400 graduates earning liberal arts degrees that ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

Most Popular