ACA Repeal – Good or Bad for Doctors?

As Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the Republican-led Congress is making strategic moves to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. “Obamacare.” Despite their promises to immediately replace the ACA with a new plan, no solid details have been given out by Trump or Republicans.   The effects of the ACA on the lives and practice of doctors has been complex, and opinions as to whether the law has been good or bad for doctors are clearly divided along party lines. There is high anxiety surrounding the proposed repeal from patients and doctors alike. Without a clear plan in place, it’s hard to know how a repeal would affect doctors and the future careers of current med school students.   Image: Source   Here are some concerns when considering the repeal:   Fewer patients in a smaller insurance pool – The ACA has enabled roughly 22 million previously-uninsured Americans to purchase health insurance or obtain it through expanded Medicaid programs. The ACA also has rules in place that end pre-existing condition exclusions for children, allow young adults under the age of 26 to be covered under their parents’ insurance and prohibit arbitrary withdrawals of insurance coverage. If repealed with no immediate replacement, millions of people could be dropped from their plans and left unable to purchase new plans. Fewer people with insurance equals...

When Epidemics Turn Endemic

By Laurie Breen   In 2016 the Zika virus epidemic dominated medical news headlines, especially with the drama that played out when some health experts called for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro to be cancelled. But by September WHO officials announced that there had been no confirmed Zika cases coming out of the Olympic games among visitors or athletes and on November 18th the WHO ended Zika’s designation as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”   However, when diseases are no longer drawing the urgent attention of the public or the media, the interest in funding research dies out too. In December, the WHO issued a Report to Donors that highlighted the need for continued funding to seek answers to remaining questions on the Zika outbreak and its ongoing effects.   Image: Source   In a JAMA Viewpoint article, Catharine I. Paules, MD and Anthony S. Fauci, MD, the Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), draw a comparison between Zika and to two other recent mosquito-borne epidemics that have become boring old endemic diseases – West Nile Virus and Chikungunya.   According to the authors, West Nile first appeared in 1999 with cases reported in New York. There was surge in diagnoses in 2002 as the virus spread throughout the United States, but as the rate of infection flattened out, public interest also...

Adult Asthma? – Why It’s Worthwhile to Re-Evaluate

By Laurie Breen Asthma is a chronic condition with no known cure that can be diagnosed at any age. In the United States alone there are over 25 million people with diagnosed asthma, and 7 million are children. Children with asthma typically have intermittent asthma attacks, but asthma symptoms in adults are usually persistent and require treatment with daily medication.   Image: Source   Children with chronic asthma have been shown to outgrow their condition about 75% of the time, but what about adults? A new study published in JAMA by authors Aaron, Vandemheen & FitzGerald suggests that potentially up to one-third of adults diagnosed with asthma don’t show symptoms a year later.   Image: Source   The study gathered over 700 participants who had been diagnosed with asthma at some point over the past five years and weaned them off their asthma medications. Then, for over 12 months, researchers followed up with a series of bronchial challenge tests to determine if the patients were still showing asthmatic reactions. By the end of 12 months, 613 participants had completed the study and researchers could rule out an asthma diagnosis in 203 of the participants – a recovery rate of 33%.   Image: Source   Another interesting finding during this study was that 2% of participants were found to have had a serious condition that had been misdiagnosed as asthma....

7 Ways to Be a Remarkably Average Pre-Med

Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 Time: 6:00-7:00PM Location: Online Classroom Cost: FREE Register here!   Volunteering, shadowing, research, leadership…the list goes on. Pre-meds work so hard to stand out for medical school, but they all end up doing the same activities. When the time comes to apply, so many of them look identical on paper.   The checklist is good, but it’s only half the battle. Successful applicants not only do the checklist, but they find a way to make themselves stand out from the crowd. You can either: 1) be better than everyone else (4.0 GPA, 38 MCAT), or 2) be different from other students applying to med school.   Come to this class, led by Savvy Pre-Med author and Passport Admissions founder, Rob Humbracht, to learn what you can do to stand out (while also staying true to yourself!) Warning: it’s not easy to figure out the best path for you; this presentation will challenge you to take bold steps toward becoming the very best applicant you can be.   Register...

TED Talks For Food Lovers #9: The Art of Baking Bread

Ah, bread! One of the most basic foods for today’s generation. From the wide varieties in the market to the soft and scrumptious taste that hits our taste buds, bread instills a sense of satisfaction often unmatched by any other food. In this TED talk, bread savant Peter Reinhart talks about bread and how it comes to be in all its melodious mixtures.     Diet and health are highly interdependent. The food people eat over the course of a lifetime often plays a huge role in determining many of the ailments they incur. Referring to some recent exploration into the field of microbiomics, the large quantity and variety of bacteria in our body may likewise be acutely as well as chronically transforming due to the food we eat and the changes we make to our diets. Lastly, for aspiring medical personnel, quick food sources such as cold pizzas, Chipotle veggie bowls, and espresso shots often make up our daily sustenance. What effect do these have on our health?   Over the course of the next several articles, I would like to take you all on a run through some of the most interesting TED talks on food, some quite interesting and others downright genius. As you watch these videos, reflect on the close ties between nutrition and medicine, and what we can due as future clinicians to best...

Medical Advancements To Look Forward To This Year #2: Precision Medicine

2. Precision Medicine On January 20, 2015 in his State of the Union address, President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative, which laid out an endeavor to improve health care for the better. As I sat there listening to his speech, I asked myself: “So what exactly is precision medicine?” Let’s try to understand it with an example.   A large majority of people in the medical community and the populated world recognize that the obesity epidemic is real. Compared to 10 or 20 years ago, human beings are on a much more accelerated track towards cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancers, and many other grave conditions. Conventional management of obesity focuses on losing weight by eating less and exercising more, simple as that. After all, that must be the one answer to solve this seemingly humongous global problem? Perhaps not.   Precision medicine advocates for a different approach. Rather than painting the whole world in such broad strokes, the initiative strives to integrate genetics, lifestyle, environmental factors, and any other such crucial contributors in order to develop a model that best predicts the reasons behind disease and consequently how best to tackle it. As we already know, most people who try to lose weight gain it back soon afterwards. So there must be a reason (or perhaps multiple) behind this conundrum that expands beyond the mere fact of calorie control....

Disease Diagnosis Via Breathalyzers?

By Janet Taylor A new instrument has recently been developed to diagnose disease in a non-invasive, cost effective manner. Based on the idea of the breathalyzers used to identify and quantify alcohol consumption, this device would allow for specific programmable disease detection in still healthy individuals. Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are expressed by the body when pathologic processes occur.   By linking the exhalation of these chemicals to specific diseases, physicians will be able to diagnose disease in the early stages based on both presence and quantities exhaled and possibly identify individuals who are at high risk for development of specific diseases.   Figure 1. Schematic representation of the concept and design of the study. It involved collection of breath samples from 1404 subjects in 14 departments in nine clinical centers in five different countries (Israel, France, USA, Latvia, and China). The population included 591 healthy controls and 813 patients diagnosed with one of 17 different diseases: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, gastric cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, idiopathic Parkinson’s, atypical Parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and chronic kidney disease. One breath sample obtained from each subject was analyzed with the artificially intelligent nanoarray for disease diagnosis and classification, and a second was analyzed with GC-MS for exploring its chemical composition....

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