medschool

How To Write The Best Recommendation Letter

When you apply to study at any institution you will usually be asked to provide a few recommendation letters from people who know you well. This is more to see what character trades you have and how people perceive you. It is important for the institution to get to know you apart from your academic record. Your character is just as important as your grades and this is part of the process to get acceptance. The question then remains, how do you get these great recommendation letters for your application? Here are some tips you can apply to get these recommendation letters. Be honest and open If you need a recommendation letter for residency, you have to be open and honest with your professors and ask them straight out. By sharing your needs with them, you place the ball in their court. Explain to them how the residency application process works and that this is a requirement. Also mention whatever you would like to have on your recommendation letter. You do not want to tell them how to word it, but just mention a few achievements to refresh their memory. This probably won’t be news to your professors as many students ask for a recommendation letter. Remind them When you are asking for recommendation letters, remind your professor of some of the outstanding work you’ve done. If you have...

Taking Sick Days in Medicine

As my regular readers may have noticed, I tend to write about what I know. I think it’s the best way for me to choose what to write about because then I don’t feel like a phony, which is something I sometimes feel just as a by-product of being a student of medicine. Another way in which I feel like a bit of a phony is when I get sick and have to miss school. It’s especially tough on rotations because you feel like you’re letting everyone down, as if the whole team is somehow there for you when in reality they would function completely the same without you (although they may miss your positive attitude/humor/white coat pocket snack stash). For example, I get migraines often and they are only partially managed with medication. Sometimes the meds just don’t work or I’m not able to take them in time. Once I went a whole month without them because there was a snafu with the pharmacy and I couldn’t refill them. During that time I was so nervous I would get a migraine and have to call in sick that the whole time I was filled with anxiety over the mere possibility. Even if I do actually take the sick day I just sit at home feeling nauseas and ill, arguing with myself over whether I am sick “enough” for...

Virtual Reality is the Future of Medicine

What does it really feel like to manage an emergency in the operating room? The Cleveland Clinic Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery is using virtual reality (VR) simulations of OR cardiac emergencies to replicate the experience as closely as possible and train cardiac surgery residents. “The two-minute video shows how Cleveland Clinic is using virtual reality scenarios to teach cardiac surgery residents how to maintain ideal performance under the pressure of OR crises.” The VR simulations incorporate scenarios from real operations to create an immersive, realistic, 360-degree experience that includes the viewpoints of multiple members of the surgical team. The scenarios map right decisions, wrong decisions, and their consequences. This video, narrated by Douglas Johnston, MD, the cardiac surgeon who heads the program, shows the scenario of a patient who has gone into ventricular fibrillation as seen through the VR headset of a surgical resident. From the study on pubmed.gov: The traditional system of clinical education in emergency medicine relies on practicing diagnostic, therapeutic, and procedural skills on live patients. The ethical, financial, and practical weaknesses of this system are well recognized, but the alternatives that have been explored to date have shown even greater flaws. However, ongoing progress in the area of virtual reality and computer-enhanced simulation is now providing educational applications that show tremendous promise in overcoming most of the deficiencies associated with live-patient training. It will...

Science Classes Too Boring? Applying What We Learn In the Real World

As pre-med students, about ninety percent of our time is spent in classrooms, lecture halls and the library learning about the numerous, obscure laws of nature. The remaining ten percent of our time is divided between eating, sleeping and breathing. We take classes such as physics, organic, general and biochemistry, biology, statistics, upper level math and psychology and often wonder, well when the heck are we ever going to use something like this as doctors? Are the science classes we take too boring? How can we apply physics, chemistry, and biology to the real world? Through my first three years of college, I had the same recurring thoughts, making me lose motivation in school because nothing I was doing seemed directly applicable to a clinical setting. Now I’ll give it to you, many of the dense specifics that we cram into our heads are omitted and irrelevant to a degree when it comes to practicing medicine. After going through paramedic school, I see where I was wrong. I know this is easier for me to realize and say, but every treatment that I perform in the field, in one way or another, relates back to these classes. It just takes a little time to think that way. A good way to think about it is using what’s called the bottom-up process. This is a processing method done by the...

Managing Stress In The Fast-Paced Medical Field

The other day I cried in front of my attending in the little office we share at an adult outpatient practice. We had only worked together once so were still somewhat uncomfortable around each other – still learning about each other and feeling out our individual expectations. I started crying because I was a few minutes late which normally wouldn’t have stressed me out enough to begin weeping but I had been dealing with some pretty heavy personal stuff that had completely sapped all of my emotional energy. When I arrived at the office, worn out after staying up all night trying to deal with what was going on, I couldn’t handle the crushing guilt I felt over my tardiness. Managing stress, especially in health and medicine, is tough. It’s important to be honest here so I will also say I was considerably upset about my attending seeing me this way – emotional, not in control, allowing my personal life to affect my work. I apologized over and over as I blotted my tears with the Kleenex he held out to me with a sympathetic look on his face. “I’m not usually like this” I remember saying at least three times. He commiserated. He understood what I was going through. He normalized it for me and told me everything would be ok. He suggested I take the rest of...

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...

The Importance of Patient Contact

Adrusht Madapoosi writes on the importance of patient contact as a pre-med student.  Ever since high school, I had this dream of becoming a physician. I didn’t really know much as a high school student, so before applying to college, I participated in a lot of diverse programs. I took an “anatomy and physiology” class my junior year, excelled in it, which pretty much was one of the reasons I decided that medicine was for me. My father is a physician and set me up in a neuroscience laboratory, which made me decide that I wanted to pursue a major in neuroscience.   Ever since I received my acceptance letter from the University of Pittsburgh, I had a dream that I would attend as a pre-medicine student for one of the most prestigious neuroscience programs in the country. I naively thought it would be a very unique road to follow, but little did I know that I would be joining almost two-thousand other pre-medicine students from my freshman class, almost seventy percent of them of whom would also be majoring in one of the natural sciences. Time progressed and I completed the prerequisites and began my neuroscience courses over the first two years. I joined pre-med clubs, tutored, and volunteered in hospitals, but it was not as fulfilling as I had expected. I was craving experience, something that I was...