medschool

6 Books For Future Doctors To Read

  “Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America” by Robert Whitaker (Image of Cover) Although the U.S. has made advances in psychiatric treatments, the number of disabled mentally ill has tripled over the past twenty years. In “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” Robert Whitaker tries to make sense of this paradox. Using scientific evidence as his tool, Whitaker provides a surgical analysis of the problem….and the results will shock you. By tracing the history of psychiatric treatments, Whitaker questions our current biological understanding of psychiatric disorders, and posits that the long-term effects of psychiatric drugs may actually be doing more harm than good—worsening the prognosis of the mentally ill.   “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” by Oliver Sacks (Image of Cover) Oliver Sacks was a prolific writer, authoring fifteen books. “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” may be his best. Sacks, a neurologist, illustrates the art of medicine using vignettes of his clinical experiences with patients, as well as references from your favorite philosophers. Not only does Sacks humanize his patients, but he also reflects on their neurological afflictions to answer questions on memory, consciousness and, ultimately, what it means to be human.   “America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System” by Steven Brill ...

Influential Women in Medicine: Gertrude B. Elion

Although she never obtained an M.D. or a formal Ph.D., Gertrude Belle Elion’s influence on medicine is indisputable. A biochemist and pharmacologist, her work paved the way for breakthroughs in cancer and leukemia medication that would save thousands of lives.   Image: Source   Elion was born in New York in 1918 to Polish and Lithuanian immigrant parents. When she was 15, her grandfather died from cancer, which gave her the drive to want to cure diseases. In 1937, at age 19, she graduated from Hunter College with an undergrad degree in chemistry. Although she applied for fifteen graduate school fellowships, she was rejected from all of them.   Eventually she landed a position as a chemistry lab assistant. After saving some money from this position, Elion enrolled in grad school at New York University and was the only woman in her class. She worked during the day as a substitute teacher and studied at night, earning an MSc in chemistry in 1941.   After holding a few laboratory jobs that didn’t really fuel her interests, Elion was offered an assistant position by George Hitchings at Burroughs-Wellcome (later GlaxoSmithKline). Elion was excited by the opportunities to use her knowledge, not only in chemistry, but also biochemistry, pharmacology, immunology and virology. While working on antagonists of nucleic acid building blocks by day, she commuted to night school to earn her...

Influential Women in Medicine: Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. She graduated from Geneva Medical College in New York in 1849 and later co-founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children.   Image: Source   Originally from Gloucestershire, England, Elizabeth grew up in a large family. Her father had a liberal view of education and believed that all his children, including the girls, should be well educated and so Elizabeth grew up with a governess and private tutors. After her family moved to Cincinnati, Elizabeth became a teacher herself, got involved in local politics and began to advocate for women’s rights.   Eventually, Elizabeth grew weary of teaching positions and resolved to save enough money for medical school, around $3,000. She even moved to Philadelphia in hopes of getting into a medical school there, but was unable to find one that would accept her. She was told over and over that her “inferior” female brain wasn’t up to the job, but, on the off chance she would be able to do it, the male physicians didn’t want the competition. One sympathetic physician suggested that she should disguise herself as a man to try to get in.   Image: Source Geneva Medical College, c. 1848   Finally, Hobart College in upstate New York, which was then called Geneva Medical College, decided to give her...

Q+A: Dr. Farha Abbasi Talks Muslim Mental Health and Cultural Psychiatry

As Islamophobia has become almost ingrained in our society’s consciousness, many Muslim-Americans have encountered prejudice. Widespread discrimination has negatively impacted the mental health of Muslims, increasing the risk of common mental disorders. Yet, in an environment where both Islam and mental illness are heavily stigmatized, many Muslims are reluctant to access much-needed health care.   Dr. Farha Abbasi—an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Michigan State University (MSU) and staff psychiatrist at MSU’s Olin Health Center for students—has recognized this unique challenge. After being awarded the American Psychiatric Association SAMSHA Minority Fellowship in 2009, Abbasi established the Muslim Mental Health Conference which raises awareness on mental health in the Muslim-American community—the 9th annual conference will be held this April 13-14. Abbasi, who also serves as the managing editor for the Journal of Muslim Mental Health, uses cultural psychiatry to teach medical students how to provide culturally aware care to Muslim patients. She also works directly with the Muslim American community to create a better understanding of mental illness.   I spoke with Abbasi about Muslim mental health, stigma, and the value of cultural competence in mental health care.   Q: In your experiences, what specific mental health issues have you seen in the Muslim population? A: If you separate from what’s happening right now with Islamophobia, or the impact of immigration, or the wars, or the refugee situation,...

Influential Women in Medicine: Metrodora

Although women have long been considered the caregivers to their family members and communities, women weren’t formally allowed to become physicians until pretty recently. But throughout history there have been women who fought the tides of tradition and became influential physicians in their own right.   Image: Source   Metrodora was a Greek physician somewhere between 200-400 CE. Although a few rare women physicians are known from this time period, such as Aspasia, also from Greece, Metrodora is the author of the oldest surviving medical text written by a women, called On the Diseases and Cures of Women. In keeping with the ancient traditions of midwifery, it was common at the time for women to assist with childbirth and some aspects of gynecology.  However, Metrodora’s book was unusual because it covered many other areas of medicine, but not obstetrics, at least not in the surviving manuscripts. Rather than focusing on obstetrics, she was clearly most interested in pathology and was greatly influenced by Hippocrates. Her manuscript made clear that medicine wasn’t just a scholarly interest for Metrodora, but that she took an active hands-on approach to treatment and she discusses her own observations from examinations. She was one of the first to suggest surgical treatment for both breast and uterine cancers.   Image: Source   Her manuscript was translated into Latin somewhere between the 3rd and 5th centuries, and was...

So How Long Will You Live As A Doctor?

If you’re in medicine, the question has probably crossed your mind at one point or another – “How long will I actually live to work in this field?”   With 4 years of undergraduate, 4 years of medical school, 3-5 years of residency, and 1-2 years of fellowship (and maybe several fellowships if you’re a rockstar), you are easily in your mid-30s before you start practicing as an independent physician. And if you factor in the general twists and turns of life, including family, kids, and career moves, life can truly take a toll on you.   This also revives the crucial question of physician burnout, an ever-present phenomenon that is receiving greater attention from the medical community and the world. On the one hand, better work hours can ensure a more manageable workload and productive work environment for physicians in an effort to ensure better patient care. On the other hand, for a specialty such as surgery, less time in the ORs leads to lesser preparedness for independent practice at the end of residency.   So for medical students like myself at this point in my career, this may be worthwhile to think about. Do I really want to pursue a high-stress career that comes with its fair share of adrenaline-filled moments and sleepless nights or a relatively less demanding field that allows me to achieve a better...

6 Ways to Tell You Are/Should be a Pediatrician

There’s no doubt about it, there are certain personalities or habits that lend themselves to certain medical specialties [see Dr. Fizzy’s: The World’s Most Sophisticated Algorithm for Choosing a Med Speciality]. With the primary care shortage, pediatricians are in high demand. So how can you know that pediatrics is right for you? [Note: this article may be renamed “6 ways to tell you are simply a giant child”] 1. Over 50% of your Facebook profile pictures are you as a child. Because children > adults, obviously.   2. When at an ice cream store, the decision undoubtedly comes down to “BIRTHDAY CAKE” versus “COTTON CANDY.”  …whatever the final verdict, sprinkles are a must. Sprinkles are always a must.   3. Your daily protein intake consists of  Purdue “breaded chicken breasts,” aka: “chicken nuggets for grown-ups.”   4. When at a fancy restaurant, you go straight for the “adult mac n’ cheese” (and pick around the lobster/bacon/anything that normal people would find delicious but that you just see as contaminating the perfect simplicity of your fave childhood throwback)   5. When your case-based learning group directs you to speak as if you were going to present to a patient, you blow your cheeks out, widen your eyes and tap your friend’s nose saying “boop boop boop”   6. When AMCAS asks you what languages you speak you check “English,” and “Other”….then...