hanna-erickson

Hanna Erickson, "Almost" MD/PhD

Hanna is a MD/PhD student at the University of Illinois and an aspiring physician scientist who aims to specialize in hepatobiliary cancers. She is also passionate about teaching, leadership, and advocacy. The energy she once used to pep up crowds as a college marching band member is now directed toward exciting and educating others about science and medicine, especially through her tweets at @MDPhDToBe and her blog at www.mdphdtobe.com.

http://www.mdphdtobe.com

Which Game of Thrones Residency Would You Match With?

Another Match Day has come and gone. As fourth year medical students are anxiously awaiting their intern years, here’s where the houses of Game of Thrones would likely be placed if they too were going through this process. Spoiler alert: there are some, but this list is still pretty awesome, so I’d suggest you read away.   House Tully – Family Medicine “Family, duty, honor” is the saying of House Tully, one of the Great Houses of Westeros and a house with many allies. Their value of family would likely draw them toward family medicine as a specialty so that they could provide comprehensive health care for people of all ages.   House Arryn – Radiology This house has suffered many calamities that have left it with few trueborn members. Between death during childbirth, childhood death, taking religious orders before they could reproduce, or miscarriages, the line has grown smaller and smaller. Finally Lysa was able to give Jon Arryn a son before Jon’s death but he is the last of the Arryns. They would match in radiology, which has been suggested to be a dying field since this house too is dying.    House Frey – Anesthesiology  House Frey commands the crossing of the Trident River and so their approval is required for travelers to pass. This is especially important for the movement of armies such as that...

Seven Nerdy Costumes to Rock This Halloween

Do you usually throw on a white coat or some old scrubs and call yourself a doctor each Halloween? Well, it’s time to change things up. Here are seven costume ideas to spark your creativity. 1. Patch Adams In honor of Robin Williams, start with your white coat from your classic costume and add on a red nose and any other clown attire.   Bonus points: Dress up as the real Patch Adams himself with the mustache, half-blue hair and all (make sure you read up on his life here: http://www.patchadams.org/patch-adams/).   2. Cell (or Organelle) Eukaryote or prokaryote – pick your favorite. Add in all of the organelles and you’re set!   Bonus points: Take a cell-fie as a cell in a cell culture area (if you’re the research type).   3. Rorschach Ink Test Get a plain white piece of clothing (T-shirt, dress, etc.) and use black paint to make an inkblot pattern. (See a DIY video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvBKWwFvcHE). Bonus points: Actually psychoanalyze people using your inkblot clothing.   4. Organ Follow suit with Harvard’s “What does the spleen do?” parody and dress up like a human sized organ.   Bonus points: Learn to dance like the spleen in the video.   5. Microbe While these are normally too small to see, you won’t be missed while dressed as a microbe, be it as a fungus, bacteria,...

A Call to Almost Docs: The Future is Yours for the Making

In case you haven’t noticed, we are in a time of great change in medicine. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act, while perhaps not ideal, accompanies a conversation in our nation about improving healthcare access and affordability to make our country a healthier place. More and more research papers are published every day as we seek to understand the world around us and use that knowledge to improve the way we prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. Health disparities and cultural differences are acknowledged as we try to make healthcare better for all. Advocates are vying for policy change at a national level. Outreach is being done to other countries to bring them ideas and medicines they may not have had. Yet, despite all of this effort, we have a long, long way to go. With financial, cultural, social, and other barriers hindering change, the problems we face today may be problems that we will face for quite some time. If we look at those in medicine who are involved in this change, whom do we see? We see physicians who have played the role of doctor for quite some time, who know the healthcare system and who have been striving to enact change for many years. We see primary investigators who are leading research and have had the longevity in their careers to establish themselves and promote their...

How Do We Change the Public’s View of Science?

“Can you explain DNA to me?” my aunt asked the other day. “I always hear things like DNA, gene, and sequence being thrown around in the news but I don’t really know what they mean by it. Like how do you look at DNA and see the sequence? With a microscope?” My reaction was twofold. First, I was glad that she reached out to ask rather than just disregard what she didn’t know. By studying science, terms like these have been integrated into my vocabulary and I’ve found it easy to forget that to many they are still jargon. Unfortunately, my aunt is by no means alone in this sentiment. The number of adults who are science literate – defined as having “knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making” – is a mere 28 percent. This number has nearly tripled over the past 20 years, which is great, but it nonetheless highlights how far we need to go. Why does this matter? No, it’s not just because I live and breathe science and want others to love it too (which I do). Rather, while many think the answer to the classic high school question, “When will I need to know this?” is never, that is not the case with science. An understanding of science is necessary to take care of your own health...

The Real Issue with the Match

Imagine for a second that you really want to be a doctor. Like really, really want to be a doctor (and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you probably don’t really need to imagine). But anyways, imagine that you take the general path to becoming a doctor. You go to college, pick a major, complete medical school pre-requisites, get clinical experience, volunteer, go through the difficult medical school admissions process (all while building up debt from tuition and living expenses), and luckily you are one of the 42% of medical school applicants each year that gets accepted (as of 2013). You think that you’ve just surpassed the largest hurdle toward becoming a doctor and while the coursework and clinical experience that lies in your future will be challenging, as long as you excel, the next opportunity will be available for you. Then you actually go to medical school. You make it through with good enough grades, USMLE score, and recommendations to be competitive for your choice of specialty (again while building up debt – this time up to hundreds of thousands of dollars). In your fourth year, you apply to residency, the next step in your journey to becoming a physician. You spend money on application fees. You take time away from your fourth year clinical rotations while spending money to travel the country and interview. You eagerly wait...

Everything You Need to Know About the Latest Research on Stem Cells

As life begins, we are a single cell, full of potential to become any cell of the body. Our cell divides, the first of a countless number of replications as we approach a steady state of cell growth and cell death around 40 trillion cells. During this process, our cells lose their potential, committing to play a more specific role in the body, and with each commitment, it is believed that the cells enter a path of no return. These high potential cells are called stem cells and there is a great interest among medical researchers in their ability to produce multiple cell types. Studying them can help us understand more about how our body develops and how mistakes in this development process can manifest in negative outcomes. They also may be used in regenerative medicine to replace damaged tissue or eventually produce whole organs. While most of our cells commit to a role, some remain in the high potential state to act as the body’s repair system. To study them, we can isolate them from bone marrow, adipose tissue, and blood, their three most accessible sites in adults. They can also come from an embryo, but this method is highly controversial and sparks debate over when life truly begins. In vitro, cells can also be induced to have this high potential through introduction of genes that are expressed...

5 Precise Techniques to Become the Most Effective Learner Ever

If you’re like me, you probably study by going through your notes or powerpoints, perhaps rewriting your notes, but basically making sure that you can regurgitate the information that you are given. You may take practice tests and do well, but then get to the actual test and not do as well as you hoped. You blame it on the questions being of a different caliber than those on the practice test and so you didn’t prepare for that style of questions. You tell yourself that you’ll just study with more brute force next time. You’ll go through the lectures more times, you’ll write out your notes again, and you’ll hopefully do better. But then that doesn’t always happen. What we know about the world is exponentially growing, and it is difficult impossible to keep up. Looking at the sheer volume that we must learn as students can be overwhelming and discouraging. It makes us question whether we are cut out for this path. We live a stressful life of lectures, study groups, and examinations. And yet, there is one area that we tend to overlook that is essential for our success – how to effectively study. The American Medical Student Association recently held a webinar on how to be an effective learner in medical school featuring Jay Phelan from UCLA who helped develop PrepU, a website that creates...