Education

Do doctors set themselves up for physician burnout?

It’s no surprise that doctors are prone to burnout, especially during residency training.

But, according to a study cited by Pauline Chen in a recent New York Times column, it’s part of the doctor-in-training culture. In fact, residents “from seven different specialties and found that they set themselves up for burnout by accepting, even embracing, what they believed would be a temporary imbalance between the personal and professional aspects …

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Poll: Is further reducing resident work hours worth the cost?

The Institute of Medicine is recommending “rapid implementation” of its proposed plan to further restrict medical residents’ work hours. The plan includes a 5-hour nap during extended shifts, a strict 16-hour cap on shifts without naps, reduced workload, and more days off.

But at what price?

It seems like common sense that better rested doctors make fewer errors and contribute to better patient care, but data from several large-scale studies does not …

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Grading medical students, pass-fail or letter grades?

Medical schools have traditionally used letter grades for their students, but to decrease the competitive atmosphere between these prospective doctors, some of gone with a simple pass-fail system.

Does it matter?

A recent study suggests the answer is no. When comparing two groups, one who was graded “A-F” and the other pass-fail, there was no difference in absolute test scores, as well as no discrepancy in board scores or getting …

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Death of the medical riddle and why Google is responsible

Stanford’s Abraham Verghese challenges readers to solve his medical riddle, without using Google.

These exercises, when thought through, offer the student the opportunity to “formulate hypotheses, go to the book, research and eliminate possibilities . . . and come to the answer,” and can be a valuable learning experience.

But with the dawn of Google, many arcane answers can simply be looked up, often at the expense of thinking through a problem.

So, …

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Do drug company logos influence medical students?

Many medical schools are in the midst of purging pharmaceutical companies from their halls.

But can subtle marketing tactics can influence perceptions of prescription drugs?

It depends on where you trained.

A recent study looked at fourth-years, some of whom were exposed to pharmaceutical-branded clipboards and pens. At the University of Miami, which has a less restrictive policy towards drug companies, students preferred the brand name cholesterol medication Lipitor over its generic …

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The secret to being a good teacher

When teaching his students how to feel for an enlarged spleen, physician-educator Abraham Verghese recalls the first time he managed to become proficient at the technique.

The best teachers know that, although the material they are teaching can become repetitive, it’s the first time it’s being heard by the student. And when talking about his own mentor, Dr. Verghese notes that, “Every single time he said the phrase, …

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Should the best and brightest really become doctors?

For years, medical schools only accepted those who scored highest on the MCATs or received top grades.

But, in an era where working with others is becoming more essential to patient care, whether future doctors can function as a member of a team is becoming increasingly important.

To that end, Maggie Mahar asks whether those who score the highest grades really are best suited to become doctors. …

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The Craigslist Killer is a Boston University medical student

As an alum of Boston University Medical School, and having trained at Boston Medical Center, this is truly sad and disturbing news.

The so-called “Craigslist Killer,” who was the target of a national manhunt, is apparently a 22-year old medical student at Boston University:

Boston police tonight arrested Philip Markoff, a 22-year-old Boston University medical student, in the murder of 26-year-old Julissa Brisman at the Copley Marriott last week …

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How to pimp, or, mastering the art of Socratic questioning

Nothing makes a new medical student more nervous than answering a series of medical questions from their attending, known as pimping.

There is a definite art to the tactic. Ask too many questions based in triviality, it can be interpreted as intimidating. However, used correctly, it can be a valuable learning tool.

Over at orthopedic blog Them Bones, we have a detailed history of medical pimping …

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A 48-hour physician workweek will kill patients

How dramatic.

But it’s also true. Stateside, we’re already dealing with the repercussions of restricting residents’ work to 80 hours per week or less.

The UK is going several steps further, but restricting all doctors to no more than 48-hours of work a week.

First off, there are no studies that suggest restricting work-hours improves patient care. Whatever patient safety gains are made …

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If the pharmaceutical industry won’t pay for CME, who will?

The purging of drug companies from continuing medical education courses continues.

Psychiatrist Daniel Carlat points to what’s happening at the University of Wisconsin, where company-funded CME lectures conveniently left out side effects of the medications that were mentioned.

For instance, in a Pfizer-sponsored course on smoking cessation, not one of Pfizer-marketed Chantix’s many side effects were mentioned.

CME is a big money industry, and in the …

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Medical schools are using Second Life to teach future doctors

Second Life is a “virtual” world where users act and communicate using avatars.

A medical school in the UK is experimenting with the platform, where “students [via their avatars] enter a patient’s room and their work begins. Because their assignment takes place in a respiratory ward, they can access recordings of real-life patients’ breathing to help with their diagnoses. And if students decide that X-rays are needed, they …

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Half MD: How to fix the scramble before Match Day

The following is reader take by Half MD.

The third Thursday of March each year is Match Day for fourth-year medical students. There are many smiles and frowns made on this day when soon-to-be doctors discover where they will obtain their first job to continue their medical training. While Match Day is the most famous day of the week, Monday and Tuesday are the …

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Will gross anatomy soon be rendered irrelevant?

Dissecting a human body is messy, smelly, and expensive.

In fact, more medical schools are resorting to so-called “virtual” gross anatomy, using sophisticated imaging and computer programs.

This is a mistake, says psychiatry resident Christine Montross, in a NY Times op-ed. And she has a point.

“Someday, [doctors] need to keep their cool when a baby is lodged wrong in a mother’s birth …

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Is banning industry-sponsored CME a good idea?

I wrote previously that pharmaceutical industry influence should be removed from physician continuing medical education courses.

The American Psychiatric Association is taking that recommendation to heart, announcing that it will end industry-sponsored seminars at its annual meeting.

Good for them.

But, I’d be interested to see how many of these professional organizations can survive the funding cut. For instance, the APA stands to lose …

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Why is Sweden allowing murderers and rapists to become doctors?

Should a convicted murderer ever be allowed to become a doctor?

Lawrence Altman writes about the strange situation in the NY Times, where, after a convicted murderer was expelled from Sweden’s most prestigious medical school, was admitted to a second medical school.

Dr. Altman also points to another case, where a medical student, convicted of rape, was only expelled after exhaustive court action.

What’s going on …

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Who’s ranked above a full professor at Harvard?

“God.”

So says famed Harvard psychiatrist Joseph Biederman during a deposition investigating whether his drug research results were biased in favor of his funder’s interests. Was his research supporting the use of antipsychotic medications in children with bipolar disorder tainted?

Certainly, in light of recent events, combined with the pressure on academic physicians to produce studies, established research is now being called into question.
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Is loan forgiveness enough to convince students to choose primary care?

I’ve often said that forgiving medical school loans, often exceeding $140,000, can help more students choose primary care.

Students at Harvard Medical School were the lucky recipients of an offer by an anonymous donor, offering $60,000 to students who entered, and completed, a primary care residency.

Salary is one consideration that students have when choosing a specialty. The other is lifestyle. As they train, they observe …

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Should the MCAT grant extra time for students with learning disabilities?

A recent California court denied extra time for aspiring medical students with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder when taking the MCAT.

The body that administers the test has to straddle a delicate line, in granting extra time to a broadening definition of the disabled student versus maintaining the overall fairness and integrity of the high stakes test.

Despite the ruling, three of the four plaintiffs have gone …

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Match Day comes and goes, and did medical students continue to avoid primary care?

Match Day in March often marks the climax of the years of training a medical student endures.

This year, we apparently have more focus from the national media on the issue, thanks to the proliferation of health blogs that every newspaper seems to have.

Pauline Chen writes about her experience with the rite (complete with a photo taken from my alma mater, Boston University), writing how students …

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