Reflecting on Vaccines After World Immunization Week

Vaccines, heralded as one of the greatest medical breakthrough of the modern era save millions of lives each year. Despite the magnificent success of vaccinations against formerly fearsome diseases, fraudulent anti-vaccine claims thrive today. In the spirit of World Immunization Week 2018, I decided to dive into the scientific data that unambiguously demonstrates how effective vaccines are at preventing the most devastating diseases. Vaccines work on the simple principle of preventing the disease, they help our body’s defense system (immune system) to fight infections effectively and at a much faster rate. When we get a vaccine, we are exposed to small amounts of weakened or dead pathogens, which doesn’t make us sick but all it does is spark our immune system. Once the immune system is sparked it remembers the pathogen, and on our next exposure to the pathogen, our body is ready to fight off the pathogen. This protection that we develop against a disease is defined as immunity, which in many cases lasts for a lifetime. The story of vaccines begins with smallpox. In the 20th century, smallpox killed an estimated 300 million people, making it one of the deadliest diseases known to humankind. Before doctors knew how to prevent this highly infectious disease from spreading, Dr. Edward Jenner carried out one of the most pivotal experiments in the history of medicine that led to the discovery of...

How To Dress For Your Medical School Interviews

Need help finding the right dress or suit for your interviews? Don’t show up in a lab coat (unless you have to). Here are the best ways to dress for your medical school interviews. Suit Don’t be cheap. You’ll keep this suit forever (or until your weight changes significantly), so don’t worry about the price tag. Buy a conservative suit that fits you perfectly (or get it tailored to fit perfectly). Check out this article for a lengthier discussion on interview attire. Women: the skirt versus pants debate rages on. (Especially for surgeons.) I personally opted for pants because I feel more comfortable in them, which translates into more confidence in my interviews. Plus I just can’t see myself at a program where I am expected to wear a skirt. With that being said, if I were equally comfortable in both I would actually opt for a skirt, as a skirt is technically more formal. Of course, make sure your skirt is long enough, especially when sitting down. Men: I would save the 3-piece suit for another day. It’s a bit much. (This is just my opinion, but I’ve also heard some residents and attendings make similar comments.) I would also avoid bow ties, unless you’ve seen the program director or department chair in one. Bow ties just bring up very strong feelings and you don’t want your interviewer secretly judging you for something so...

It’s All About Lifestyle—24 Healthy Habits, Hobbies & Scientific Facts

There’s no doubt that if people were asked about whether or not they want to be healthy, the answer would be “yes.” So, why do we wait for some special opportunity if it’s possible to have healthy habits without putting much effort into it? All that’s needed is a bit of free time, dedication, and a certain amount of patience. Why all that? Because the change doesn’t happen in a single day. Staying healthy is something you invest time and effort into. And your body will thank you. The infographic below leads you through the steps to becoming healthier. No one says that you should stop there. This may only be the beginning. After getting a taste of it, you’ll want to move to something a bit more serious. So, the infographic contains 24 healthy lifestyle habits and hobbies for you to pick up. Apart from that, it’s going to share a couple of scientific facts showing the benefits to your academic performance and life in general from staying fit. Want to learn more about exercising the right way? Make sure to take this quiz! Or if you want to keep up your good work, make working out into a game! Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University set out to test the theory that participants could be incentivized to increase their physical activity through the gamification of exercise. All participants...

Is A Post-Bac Program Right For You?

As someone who took a few years off after college, I am a huge proponent of attending a post-bac pre-med program even if you have the slightest interest in it. Every student’s intentions and motivations are different. There are some students in my class that pursued combined programs. This means that they enrolled in their university’s medical or any other health professional school program after a certain number of years. Other students in my class are older (in their 30’s) and pursued other interests before matriculating in our program, such as being a flight attendant, attending culinary school, or working in investment banking. Despite what seem like “crazy” paths, we all ended in classmates. We will all become doctors. If you’ve heard about or want to know more about this route, read on. AAMC has a list of post-bac programs, but this list is not all-inclusive. Most programs geared towards students who have graduated college with or without science courses. There are grade-enhancing programs that help boost your science GPA and these programs are NOT considered post-bac programs. If you’re confused or the website is clear, it is perfectly acceptable to call the admissions office to double check if the program is the right fit for you. There are two types of post-bac programs. Some programs are more structured and formal and have a list of their own requirements, such as...

Are Grades That Important in Medical School?

A question that we’re asked quite frequently at Med School Tutors relates to the letters that have either plagued or overjoyed students for the last 17 years of their education: GRADES. Medical school is in fact “school,” and just like every school, it relies on grades to stratify students into quartiles and ranks. This begs the question that so many medical students are asking: How important are my grades? Will a never-ending string of H’s make me a shoe-in for the program I want? Will obtaining a grade of “pass” in the clerkship of my chosen specialty interfere with my life-long dream of becoming a [insert specialty here]-ologist? It would be easy to say that grades are of the utmost importance so you should do your best and get the highest grades you can. However, based on some objective data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), the actual grades that you attain might not be as important as you thought they were. Let’s have a look inside the 2014 Program Director Survey to see what PD’s are really interested in, and where grades fall into the mix. The Program Director Survey is conducted by the NRMP, the algorithmic black box company that determines the fate of 42,000 students and MD’s alike, all vying for coveted residency spots. The purpose of the survey is to answer questions like the one this...

Burn-Out in Medical Education is Real

Burn-out can affect physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals, so don’t be surprised if it affects medical students as well. According to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, 50% of students experience burn-out. Just as important as learning to make a sound treatment plan for a medically complex patient are crucial skills developed as a student doctor, learning to prevent or manage burn-out in medicine is also an equally important skill. According to the AAMC, burn-out is defined by three indicators: emotional exhaustion associated with work-related stress, feelings of detachment toward patients, and low sense of personal accomplishment. Stress is the number one cause of burn-out among students and doctors. Learn to manage high stress levels early on in the first year of medical training is ideal, so figure out what your personal triggers for feelings of exhaustion and burn-out are key. You can’t avoid stress in this profession, but you can certainly recognize the signs and manage them to the best of your ability. As far as being a mentally and emotionally medical students, you have to look out for yourself and protect yourself because no one is going to help you with this aspect of the training. Medical education can be dehumanizing and can disrupt the image of your self-worth.  Rarely is there support and encouragement from faculty and administration to take care of your...

The Cockroach’s Unique Genome That Can Contribute to Medicine

Dr. Sheng Li, an entomologist and professor of life sciences at South China’s Normal University in Guangzhou, is leading research on the recently sequenced genome of the American cockroach. This species of insect is remarkable for its resiliency and ability to survive and thrive in many different environments, making it a compelling specimen for study in the quest for knowledge and compounds that can contribute to human medicine. The American cockroach has one of the longest insect genomes ever sequenced, second only to the locusta migratoria. While there exists an overwhelming amount of genes to examine and design potential experiments around, Dr. Li’s team is currently focusing on the regeneration capabilities of the American cockroach and how that may translate into therapies for humans. Click here to review the paper published in Nature Communications. Read more on The Doctor’s Channel. Read more on how insects are combating the battle on Malaria: These studies point toward the possible efficacy of paratransgenesis in the war against malaria, but the experiments were carried out in the laboratory. A big hurdle is how to introduce recombinant P. agglomerans into mosquitoes in the field. The authors indicate that they have had some success in dealing with this crucial problem by placing baiting stations consisting of clay pots containing cotton balls soaked with sugar and recombinant bacteria surrounding villages where malaria is prevalent. But we don’t yet know...