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Remembering Charlie Gard

Charles Gard did not live long enough to celebrate his first birthday, yet captured the world’s attention with his memorable courage and strength. He was born August 4, 2016 and died this year just days before his birthday on July 28. For those unfamiliar with the highly debated medical-legal case, Baby Charles was born to Connie Yates and Chris Gard. Shortly after birth, Charles’ health was declining to the point that he required medical attention. In October, he was admitted to a hospital in London, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. Charles was the 16th person ever to be diagnosed with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome – a rare inherited condition causing muscle weakness and brain damage. Physicians at the London hospital refused to let Mr. and Mrs. Gard fly Charles to New York City for an experimental treatment offered to the family at Columbia University. Despite raising $1.5 million dollars to transport him from London to New York, physicians at the London hospital also urged Mr. and Mrs. Gard to get Charles off life support. This sparked severe controversy because many argued that doctors should not decide if Charlie’s life was worth living. The news event was not just an unrelated event to me. It definitely struck a cord with me. In fact, this scenario lead me to thinking – how would I handle such a situation as a doctor?...

What Are the Effects of CTE in Football Players?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a progressive degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive head trauma. Currently, CTE can only be confirmed post-mortem. In a new study from JAMA, researchers examined the brains of 202 deceased former football players — more than half of them from the NFL — and talked to their family members to identify pathological and clinical features of CTE. CTE has affected football players of all ages, including a player student athlete that committed suicide because he had known about the condition: Whilst perusing Instagram in the days following Madison’s incident, I came across a powerful statement written by another female athlete whom I had known in college: After experiencing two suicides in the athletic community at Penn within four years, my stance on the matter remains clear: universities need to do a better job at providing supports for student athletes and educating them on mental health. We have strength coaches, nutritionists, tutors, etc. But we continue to neglect mental health as a society, and regard it as a ‘touchy’ subject. Athletes, coaches, and administrators should feel safe to discuss these pressing matters that often affect too many of us student athletes. Keeping Penn athletics, friends and family in my thoughts. The other suicide to which she is referring is that of Owen Thomas who, within weeks of being made captain of UPenn’s football team,...

Make the Right Choice: Best Paying Healthcare Careers in 2017

Choosing to go into healthcare has always been an admirable career decision, but you need money to make it through every day. The industry pays well and might be the motivation behind some individuals choosing to take this route. If you are going to study to become a professional, you might as well do it in the direction of the highest paying jobs. Here is a list of the healthcare careers that could help you earn good money. Surgeons A surgeon has an earning potential of around $187 000, which is not a small amount of money at all. It does take some time to become a surgeon, but I would say that it is completely worth it. Perhaps it’s time to work on that residency personal statement. Dentists I have seen a lot of jokes going around stating that dentists are people who failed at becoming doctors. Well, if their salaries is anything to go by, I’d reconsider that joke. Dentists can earn around $155 000, which is enough to live a comfortable lifestyle. Pharmacists Prescribing medicines to patients is a very important part of the healthcare industry and without pharmacists, the industry would not function at all. With earnings around $120 000 and many jobs available for pharmacists, this would be a wise career choice. Podiatrists Podiatrists are usually required to do their residencies earlier than some physicians. Research some...

Cultural Competency in Healthcare: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?

I was walking along a crowded street when a skinny, darkly colored man entered the flow of traffic in front of me. Looking back to see where he came from, I noticed a seemingly insignificant door at the base of a tall, weathered building. The scene wouldn’t have caught me off guard – a man simply exiting his workplace or home, perhaps – except for the blue and white NHS sign that was displayed on the brick exterior. I was in London, visiting a Bangladeshi community to learn about the social environment of this marginalized population. The man I had seen enter the street was most likely of Bangladeshi nationality given the brown color of his skin and his dark eyes. I was more interested in the building where he came from, though. The NHS label stood for National Health Service, the governing body that provides healthcare for the United Kingdom’s residents. My tour guide later explained that the building housed a free clinic for the homeless and low-income people in the area. Government-funded dollars provided access to healthcare, and I thought that was incredible. This ordinary scene on a rainy day in London, surrounded by people that look and speak very differently than me, started a cascade of thoughts on culture, health, and medical practice. I wanted to learn more about how culture influences healthcare. So, I did...

Top 5 Reasons Why Studying Medicine in Israel is Sababa (Hebrew for: Awesome)

Many people often would study abroad for medical school, especially if they want a different experience. Dahlia Pasik lists the best reasons why studying medicine in Israel is a unique and fulfilling experience.  Kosher Food. And a lot of it – Whether you are Jewish, Italian, Christian, or perhaps a bit of all three, there is one thing Israel is in no shortage of for one to enjoy – and that’s kosher food. Sure, you will likely find kosher products distributed amongst various supermarkets in countries in the USA and in Canada, but not close to the proportion that Israel has to offer. So whether it’s falafel, shawarma, or just a good taste of steamy fresh potato kugel (Yiddish for pudding) you’re craving, the Holy Land has got you covered. More Hands-On Medical Experience – Israeli culture is quite different than typical American/Canadian culture. I remember when I was a premed and was looking to shadow a doctor in a locally based hospital in NY, there were so many permission forms to fill out and medical records to be tracked, I might have been better off just never shadowing. Once approved to follow this particular doctor, the hospital was so stringent about non-medical professionals being able to observe medically related procedures, I probably would’ve gained more exposure from watching a few melodramatic Greys Anatomy episodes. Well, Israel is different in...

What The Most Futuristic Hospitals Have That Others Don’t

Technology has certainly made great advancements in medicine, and our friends at GapMedics provide a glimpse into the most futuristic hospitals in the world. Featured on the list are: University of Missouri Health System: University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri; Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey; Wooridul Spine Hospital in Seoul, South Korea; Vale Hospital in Hensol, South Wales, United Kingdom; and Asklepios Klinik Barmbek in Hamberg, Germany. Many leading hospitals are already making profound changes and improvements that could not even have been imagined a decade ago. Science and technology working together are bringing hope and progress to patients and medical staff alike. In this infographic, we take a look at some of the most futuristic hospitals in the world, where state of the art equipment and high tech medical care is advancing healthcare across the world. What does the future of hospitals look? Some are incredibly optimistic, with hospitals developing more specialized technologies and groups to optimize their systems and to tread as many patients as possible. Even in 2015, we saw developments in prosthetics. Futurism reported that by 2030, hospitals may be a thing of the past: Predictions from the co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Future Council, Melanie Walker, say we’ll soon enter a post-hospital world due to advances in personalized medicine, health monitoring, and nanotechnology. New and evolving technologies in medical science convince Walker we’ll live...

From SXSW to SHM: Our Tour to Promote Value Conversations Between Doctors & Patients

At a movie premiere for the new Terrence Malick flick, “Song to Song”, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, and Rooney Mara walked the red carpet to flashing cameras and screaming fans in front of the famous Paramount Theatre in Austin. The next day, down the street, to a lot less fanfare, our Costs of Care team – Neel Shah and both of us – took the stage at the annual SXSW festival for own version of a premiere. We were about to step out of the normal medical conference crowd (i.e. no screaming fans but some with #pinksocks on) and see for the first time if videos we made depicting scenarios of doctors and patients confronting healthcare costs would translate to the real world. Would it work, or would the critics, like with the “Song to Song” premier, give us a rotten tomato? Luckily, we had a very positive response, and our session was dubbed one of the most interactive on Twitter and even garnered a tremendously generous “Best Picture” nod from the healthcare round-up by Medical Marketing & Media (not exactly the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, but we will take it!). In our first “public”-facing debut, it was clear that the public increasingly wants physicians to address costs of care with them – conversations that have been historically controversial. The patients in the room wanted to...

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