Benefits of a Good Ol’ Fashion Vaginal Birth

The debate between natural delivery versus a cesarean delivery has been going on for centuries. Early references to the c-section appear in ancient texts, mythology and Roman history; though, not usually coupled with a glistening seal of approval. C-sections were, initially, a last ditch effort to save a baby in countries with dwindling populations; it was better to save the child and let the mother die an agonizing death. Although the term “cesarean section” is generally thought to have originated from the story of the birth of Julius Caesar, much about the origin of the nomenclature remains a mystery. For present-day expectant mothers, c-sections are no longer so mythical and, more importantly, so dangerous. Modern medicine has allowed not only for the procedure to be safe for mom, but more or less safe for baby as well (forgiving, of course, the occasional nick on the baby’s brow by the surgeon’s blade, as was the case with my nephew). C-sections have proliferated in modern culture to become a matter of preference rather than necessity. They are no longer reserved solely for emergencies; some moms may choose to schedule their cesarean purely for the convenience, or, as is sometimes noted about the stars in glossy tabloids, because they are “too posh to push.”  But just because we have the technology to allow c-sections to be more commonplace, science is still trying...

Every Career in Medicine Begins With a Story…Here’s Mine

In his book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee says, “Medicine … begins with storytelling. Patients tell stories to describe illness; doctors tell stories to understand it. Science tells its own story to explain diseases.” It is stories that give meaning to what we do, and so, I wish to tell you my grandmother’s story. I could barely recognize my grandmother’s frail body as she lay on a hospital bed in the room that was once her dining room. She asked what the weather was like outside. Fighting back tears, I told her it was a nice sunny day and there were robins on the bird feeders that she liked to watch on her deck. It was comforting to see her face light up at the thought, but I knew it was really a gloomy April day with no birds in sight. I did everything that I could to not think of the tumor growing in her bladder that day, but like a tumor in my mind, the realization that this was her end was growing into an overwhelming force. Each time she exhaled, there would be a long pause where I would stroke her hand fearing she would never breathe again. Her sister told her what I did not have the strength to: “You are dying.” The family knew since her diagnosis that...

A Muggle’s Guide to Med School

Did you ever think that medical school seemed very much like Hogwarts when it came right down to it? Pay attention muggles, we’re about to expectorate sputonum up in here.     Featured image from Flickr | Edmond...

First, Do No Harm: An Oath for Patients?

Should there be a Hippocratic Oath for patients? This week NPR reported on increased violence against doctors in hospitals in China, the climax of which resulted in a fatal stabbing at a hospital in the province of Zhejiang. Nurses and doctors from the facility donned surgical masks and took to the courtyard to protest the violence. The masks were not so much a symbol of solidarity as yet another layer of protection: this time, not from their patients, but from their own government. This attack against doctors by angry patients is not the first one in China this year; there were also stabbings and beatings in Harbin and Guangdong provinces that resulted in two more dead doctors. The culture between doctor and patient is built on an unstable rift: it is hardly uncommon for patients to insult and in some cases manhandle their physician if they are unhappy with the outcomes of their treatment or diagnosis. In these Chinese hospitals, the security guards are untrained to protect the physicians, and as a result, the violence has been allowed to escalate. The Chinese Hospital Association released a survey that said patients and/or their family members have assaulted staff at more than 60% of hospitals, supporting the idea that there is some cultural basis for the growing violence. The NPR article reports that, ironically, in the last few years, several health...

When Treating Chronic Pain Syndrome, Family Matters

Bruce Singer, Psy.D., Program Director, Chronic Pain and Recovery Center, Silver Hill Hospital, evaluates the large social impact of chronic pain syndrome. He urges families to avoid enabling certain behaviors and to be an integral part of chronic pain...

4 Reasons Why You Should… and Shouldn’t Go to Medical School

Why medicine?   This is a question I needed to have a prepared answer to recite to everyone and for every occasion – from professors to parties. It is a simple, but difficult question. It is a complex question. Why am I choosing the longest, hardest, most expensive professional career? Why do I want a career with immense sacrifice? I am giving myself ample time to confidently answer this question. Searching for this answer has not been straightforward. My answer oscillates from a resounding yes to a petrified no. Let’s review the pros and cons together.   Here’s why I vote no:   1) The health care reform was supposed to make things better, but it seems to be getting worse. 2) Doctors are frustrated and on the brink of quitting due to increasing administrative burden. 3) New doctors do not spend more than 8 minutes with their patients. 4) Medical students collect a mountain of debt by the end of their educational training. And yet, medical school applications are still at an all time high. Here’s why I vote yes:   1)    Discovering the complexities of the human body   2)    Comforting another human being 3)  Collaboration and team work   4) Develop meaningful relationships with patients Tell me why you chose medicine (or ran away from it) @sonalkumar2011      ...

Studying Made More Enjoyable: The Art of Brewing Coffee

If you don’t like coffee, you should definitely start trying to. Pulling an all-nighter studying in the library will be much more enjoyable if you don’t want to spit out what’s keeping you alert. If you’re one of those people who prefers energy drinks for a late night studying, you’re doing it all wrong. They’re more expensive, loaded with sugar, and don’t warm your soul like a cup of coffee does. There are ways to acquire a taste for coffee – and it’s not by loading it up with cream and sugar. You must learn the art of brewing the perfect cup to enjoy all that coffee has to offer. And, if you already are a coffee addict, believe it or not, there may be a few tips you’ve missed out on… Buy it and keep it fresh– You never pick out the rotten strawberries at the grocery store so why do it with your coffee beans? Instead of digging through your pantry trying to find the coffee you bought months ago when you made your first attempt to become a coffee connoisseur, go buy fresh beans! To keep them fresh, the beans should be stored in a cool, dark area. If you don’t plan on using them within two weeks, keeping them in the refrigerator will ensure that they stay as fresh as when you bought them. Use...

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