kiera-cunningham

Kiera Cunningham

Kiera is an editor for The Almost Doctor's Channel. She graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a major in Biochemistry and a minor in French. She is currently applying for medical school to begin in the fall of 2014. Kiera also enjoys horseback riding, skiing, hiking with her dog, Charlie, and playing piano.

Improv Class Teaches Medical Students Valuable Skills

No one said medical school was going to be fun, but what if it could be? During the med school interviewing process, every pre-med is discouraged from suggesting that their love of medicine began at an early age (because who really came out of the womb knowing they wanted to become a doctor). But, it is true that children enjoy “playing doctor,” and this enjoyment and enthusiasm is often sucked dry by the competitive and work-heavy environment of med school. For years, medical schools have clung to the same traditional curriculum, and although many schools have recently begun developing their own unique course structures and evaluation systems, very few have been successful in creating a fun, relaxed, and collaborative learning environment. One school does stand out, however. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago is the only school in the country that has an improv class that is part of a medical school curriculum.  The idea for the class came from Katie Watson, assistant professor of medical humanities and bioethics at the medical school. Watson had been doing improvisational theater as a hobby and realized that much of what improv teaches is needed in medical training, but is absent in the current medical school curriculum. While physician-patient interaction is structured, it is not scripted, and no courses exist that develop these skills outside of rotations. Many students struggle with...

There is Another Place Like Home, Sorry Dorothy

I can imagine that starting the first week of medical school is overwhelming. New place, new school, new people, new information, new everything. Many have already experienced similar feelings watching as their parents’ car pulled out of the college dorm parking lot; the only difference is you’re not an 18-year-old anymore so it might be slightly less acceptable to cry hysterically (I swear I didn’t do that). And, while it’s extremely important to get down to your studying, it’s also extremely important to get to know your new surroundings and meet new people. School will be stressful and you want to make sure you feel familiar and comfortable in your new home and with your new peers and mentors. Embrace your new place by…. Exploring the city. Take advantage of the last few weeks of summer and walk, run or bike outside. You’ll get good exercise and learn how to navigate around your new place. I recently moved into NYC, and spending hours walking my dog Charlie has really helped me learn my way around the BIG apple. Learning the history. A simple Google search of your new city and new school make you more connected to it. In your investigation, you might uncover some interesting facts to share with some of the other newbies. Getting involved. This can be done through groups at school or in your community....

5 Ways to Get Geared Up for Back to School

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again… back to school, not Christmas (sorry!). While many have worked and studied this summer, some students may need a little help in making the transition from basking in the sun to hunching over textbooks for hours. Here are some tips to help get you back in gear and feel more enthusiastic for the return of med school classes: Buy textbooks and school supplies ahead of time: You definitely don’t want to get behind on work because of what easily could be fixed with Amazon. This will also save you time shopping so you can do more studying. Some people may also find it helpful to glance through the textbooks before classes start so you have an idea of what you’ll be learning. Do your laundry: It’s never fun to realize you don’t have clean underwear on the first day of class. And, it’s important to start with good hygiene, even if things go downhill from there. For some reason, it’s always impossible to make the decision to do laundry but there’ something magical about following through. Maybe it’s just me, but doing laundry makes me become super productive from the time the last sock enters the wash until the moment everything is freshly folded. The living space gets cleaned, draws get reorganized and dishes get done. It may not be a lot of...

How Doctors Can Combat the Violence Against Women Epidemic

In college, one of my best friends became an advocate for helping victims of sex trafficking and exposed me to the terrible reality that women all over the world are victims of violence. She felt and still feels strongly that violence against women is a huge problem and one that needs to be resolved immediately. After watching an extremely revealing documentary with my friend called “The Day My God Died”, I joined her in feeling that these violations of human rights are unjust, disgusting and needed to be put to an end. My friend introduced me to an organization she was helping, Friends of Maiti Nepal, and it gave me hope that something could be done. A few weeks ago, I was reminded that while many wonderful people and groups have taken a stand to end violence against women, the problem has not gone away. The World Health Organization, working in partnership with London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council, released a new report revealing the disturbing epidemic of violence against women throughout the world. It’s estimated that 35% of all women will experience either non-partner violence or intimate partner violence, and that 30% of all women are affected by intimate partner violence. This should not be troubling for only women, but for all of society. And, this is not just a...

Learning Anatomy Through Painting on Human Body

Remember the Will Ferrell SNL skit “Sculpture Class”? Besides a good laugh, the skit might have also provided some inspiration to one medical school professor. Dr. Claudia Diaz, Professor of Anatomy at RMIT University, has incorporated art into her lessons by having students paint on a human body. She explains that having students paint the different tissues onto the body, they are learning through deep conditioning and changing their bad habits of memorizing textbook information. Watch the video to see how the body of student Zac O”Brien is transformed into an “Anatomical Man”, masterfully combining artistic inspiration and learning objectives.   Featured image is screenshot from video...

Studying or A Night Out? Why Not Both?

I’m not much of a vodka drinker (more of a whiskey ginger kinda girl) but if I did enjoy vodka, I would definitely be drinking Spine Vodka. Not only would its fabulous design totally impress all of my friends, I could also gift the empty bottle to add to my younger sister’s bottle collection. Johannes Schulz designed the bottle and explains that he “integrated the spine with the rib cage to communicate a product with a ‘backbone’, a beverage that lives up to its promise, to be an honest and strong drink.” I’m convinced. So, if you need a night out but can’t seem to peal yourself away from your osteology notes, now you and your fellow med student friends can come up with a new drinking game, “name that bone”. Or, you can just try to pretend you’re not in med school for just one second and go out like a normal person. “Name that bone” does sound great though…. Remember to drink responsibly!       Images in post and featured image courtesy of Johannes...

How to Distinguish Yourself When Applying for Gap Year Jobs

There is a lot of pressure to get a job after graduating college, and it’s especially tough when you are trying to find one for only a year between graduating and beginning medical school. If you’re a recent grad and scrambling to land a job or you’ve been accepted for a position that you don’t think will be worth your while, check out this unique way of developing your resume and it might just be your ticket to the perfect, dream job! The website Sumry allows you to “tell your story” in a non-traditional way and “showcase your personality as well as your goals”. Share your Sumry resume with us!     Featured image...

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