The DO’s and DON’Ts of Study Groups

One of the most common questions among MS-I students is whether or not they should consider utilizing study groups. Study groups can be an excellent resource during medical school, but be sure to keep the following DO’s and DON’Ts in mind:   DO set a routine schedule for the week well in advance. Study groups work best when everyone knows exactly when they should meet and what topics to prepare for discussion. DON’T be unflexible. Things will inevitably come up that will disturb your meeting schedule. Try your best to reschedule rather than skip meetings all together. On the flip side, if your study partners are taking your schedule into consideration when making plans, it is important to honor your commitments to the group as best as you can.   DO invite classmates to join your study group. No one likes a clique. DON’T go overboard. Group sizes above six tend to make schedule planning more complicated. More importantly, remember that good friends don’t necessarily make good study partners.   DO have defined roles. Knowing who is good at writing on the board, drawing helpful diagrams, taking group notes, explaining complex cases, etc. can be extremely valuable to improving the efficiency of your study group. DON’T take advantage of any single person. For example, even if one person in the group tends to take the best notes during class,...

5 Easy Steps for YOU to Save Thousands of Residencies

On March 14th, representatives Schock (R-IL) and Schwartz (D-PA) introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to create 15,000 much-needed residency training positions and takes a critical look at the residency cap that has existed since the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. I happened to be in Washington D.C. for DO Day on the Hill when Congresswoman Schwartz introduced the bill, and she came to our morning debriefing to address hundreds of osteopathic medical students and physicians for our national lobbying day. She explained how the number of Medicare-funded residency slots producing licensed physicians has been capped since 1997, yet the US population has steadily grown each year (estimated to be an over 40 million increase in individuals from 1997-2013).  Additionally, with the addition of 30 million individuals added to the insurance pool by 2014 due to the Affordable Care Act, an already stretched-thin healthcare system will be faced with an ever-increasing patient load with limited resources and manpower.  Bottom-line: healthcare insurance coverage is meaningless if there aren’t enough providers to provide the actual care. The bill, The Training Tomorrow’s Doctors Today Act (H.R. 1201), currently has 10 co-sponsors and is being referred to the House Energy and Commerce and House Ways and Means committees. After doing a little digging around, I’ve found a fairly simple way to find out more about the bill and how to support it. Support the “Training Tomorrow’s Doctors Today Act” in 5 Steps   1) Read up...

Alanna Shaikh: How I’m preparing to get Alzheimer’s

When faced with a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s, most of us respond with denial (“It won’t happen to me”) or extreme efforts at prevention. But global health expert and TED Fellow Alanna Shaikh sees it differently. She’s taking three concrete steps to prepare for the moment — should it arrive — when she herself gets Alzheimer’s...

That Time Disney Made a Video About Menstruation

I hope I can talk about this bizarre cartoon without coming across as a stereotypical male regarding menstruation, i.e. as confused and frightened by the intricacies of the female body, visibly cringing at the mere mention of words like “period” or “tampon.” Female readers: I assure you, it’s really not the menstruation aspect of this video that freaks me out! (Okay, well maybe when the womb is described by the creepy narrator as a “hollow, pear-shaped organ.” That part kind of freaked me out.) No, it’s more that I’m disturbed by the portrait of femininity painted by this “Walt Disney Production through the Courtesy of Kotex Products,” a sexless 1946 educational video shown in schools throughout the country. The video’s main thrust is to assure girls that they will be able to carry on their lives as usual during their period, provided that said lives consist of dusting the living room, looking in the mirror, and going on dates. Disney’s thoughts on what it means to be a woman (in 1940s America, at least) are more revealingly depicted in this 10-minute video than in endless reels of fairy tale movies. Personally, it’ll be hard for me to think of animated Disney classics like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” or “Cinderella” again without mentally recalling the phrase “Mother Nature controls many of our routine bodily processes through automatic control...

If Your Histology Slides Looked Like This, Life Would Just Be Better

Do you know why everyone hates histology? It lacks pizzazz. We “almost” docs and docs like the glamour of medicine — aka the stuff they show on TV, not the behind-the-scenes action. So when Markos Kay came along and glamour-cized the world of molecular medicine, it blew everyone’s mind. It even made it on to what’s that TV show? Breaking Bad? MRK’s medical illustration is not the depiction of true life, surprisingly. His art is not based on actual scientific data, but is rather his visualization of modern scientific theory. “These simulations create an unpredictable dynamic motion that is recorded by a virtual camera, that refers back to the stochastic processes that drive complexity theory.”         Seriously, now that’s what a nucleus/endoplasmic reticulum is supposed to look like!           I am calling these vesicles in honor of the Nobel Prize winners. Whatever they are, they are beautiful.   Now if your histology slides looked like this, wouldn’t you pay more attention? You can see more of MRK’s work and ideas...

The Different Types of Doctor (Bad) Handwriting

Lately I’ve been noticing that it isn’t just that doctors have bad handwriting, in general. There are actually many different types of bad handwriting:...

How to Train Your Dragon in the 21st Century

You know what you never see on Grey’s Anatomy? McDreamy sitting down at 3 am to dictate on a patient. Or write a note in their chart. Hell, I don’t even remember seeing a doctor on that show even look at a patient’s chart, let alone glean any valuable information from it.  And you know why? Because it ain’t glamorous. No one becomes a doctor because they love to document. But the reality is, whether or not you enjoy it, documenting on patients is one of the most vital aspects of treating them– and, of course, getting paid. Often, it’s the latter that get’s a physician’s butt in gear when it comes to completing their deficient dictation on patients. You young people, freshly minted MD’s, are probably thinking, “No! I’ll never be like that! I’ll document really well and make my patient’s care transitions seamless! Coders and billers will love me!” Actually, if you’re like most noobs, you’re probably thinking, “What? You mean I have to do the things to my patients and then write down all the things I do to prove I did the thing? Why do I have to justify doing the thing? Can’t I just do the things?” No, Dr. Noob. You cannot just do the things. And it’s not because we don’t trust you, or don’t think you’re making good choices. It’s just because...

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