It’s Not ALL About Saving Lives: Salaries and Satisfaction in Medical Education [Infographic]

  Ready to throw on that white coat? Think again. Here we give the down low on job satisfaction and salaries for the most popular medical specialties. Now for some serious dough? Find the next “King of Pop”…   Featured Image:...

How Much Medical Education is Actually Necessary?

A common theme to many of my posts here on The Almost Doctor’s Channel is the idea that we are at a point of great change in the medical field. I’ve covered such topics as how our healthcare system falls behind that of other countries, how the match can be improved, and how we can improve science literacy. Another area of my interest (and one that is readily apparent to those of us who are currently in medical school) is the design of medical training – notably its excessive length.     Currently, after four years of undergraduate education, one must complete four years as a medical student followed by three to six years as a resident before being able to independently practice medicine. If no gap years are taken, this puts a person at 29 to 32 years of age when they are first able to contribute to the physician workforce – or even older if their specialty requires further fellowship training. If they decide to go into medicine later or circumstances prolong their education, this pushes them back even more. Because of this, some are hoping to shorten medical education.   As we look to shaping the future of medical education, though, it is important to note that this excessive length is a modern phenomenon, one that arises out of a desire to bring regulation and excellence...

A Research Manifesto: How to Make the Most of Your Pre-Med Research Position

A ‘manifesto’ is a published declaration of someone’s intentions, motives, or views. Although often associated with radical politics and revolution, manifestos can be written to capture the spirit of any group or movement.   Why does research need a manifesto? We’ve worked with hundreds of pre-meds, and many struggle to write about their research in meaningful ways. What’s the problem? Usually, it’s their approach to their work in the lab. Too often, they’ve taken on research as a way to check off one of their pre-med boxes, rather than a means for exploration, growth, and discovery.   Our manifesto is designed to help you avoid these obligatory feelings by inspiring a deeper commitment to the research. Hopefully, you read our manifesto early on in your research career. But regardless of how far along you are in the process, our principles will help you maintain the right mindset in the lab.   Karl Marx called the subpoints of his manifesto ‘planks,’ but for our purposes, ‘theses’ seemed more appropriate.   Thesis #1 – Get Involved in Research Early and Often in Your Pre-Med Career You will not make the same mistake as most pre-meds. You will look for research opportunities as early as possible, because you’ll recognize how long it can take to secure a spot. You will remain open-minded towards different projects, even if they seem outside of your...

What’s in a Name: Consequences of Haphazard Disease Naming

In 2009, Egypt wiped out its entire pig population in response to the fear of swine flu alone, as the disease hadn’t affected anyone in the country yet. In the following months after the major ecosystem disruption evidenced by hazardous trash accumulation in the streets (formerly consumed by the pigs), severe economic consequences, and the newfound presence of swine flu in the country, Egypt acknowledged the misguided move, but the damage was already done.     Another case, which illustrates the lasting effects of such haphazard naming, is the fate of Old Lyme, Connecticut, the namesake of the tick-borne disease, which is still suffering the repercussions of the disease first discovered in children there in the 1970s, as the New York Times explains. The accumulation of various unnecessary misunderstandings with drastic consequences around the world has sparked a new initiative by the World Health Organization to combat unintended negative and often destructive impacts towards populations, communities, and economic sectors.   As of May 8th, the WHO announced a new set of guidelines for naming infectious diseases in light of recent epidemics with strongly stigmatized names. According to Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the assistant director-general for Health Security, WHO, while this may seem like a trivial issue, “we’ve seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities, create unjustified barriers to travel, commerce and trade, and...

Video Game Therapy

It’s crazy to think that almost 91% of kids in the U.S. play video games, but today video games are an important part of our culture and lifestyle. Shared gaming experiences like Pokémon Go bring together people from all around the globe. Game developers work hard to make their games appealing and accessible to as broad an audience as possible, but what about kids with a medical condition that prevents them from playing most games? And what if accessible games could include a learning and therapeutic component?   Researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide are working on video games specifically for children with cerebral palsy and limited hand function. Cerebral palsy affects more than 17 million people around the world. There is no cure for CP and it is the most common childhood disability. Targeted interventions for children often involve therapeutic exercises aimed at improving or maintaining function with the goal of helping children achieve independence in daily activities. However, just as with adult physical therapy, compliance can be a struggle as the exercises are seen as work and not play. David Hobbs and his team set out to change that by making an accessible video game system that may also help children with CP improve sensory function, bilateral hand functionality and coordination.   Image: Source   Known as “serious games,” their work is part of a growing sector...

Fighting Allergies Without Injections?

Where I live in Texas it’s cedar season, which means it’s allergy season. Texas is notorious for its large number of pollen-producing plants including ash, mountain cedar, ragweed, grass and oak… the list goes on and on. When pollination comes around each year, it seems like everyone is coughing, sneezing and congested, with an itchy throat and watery eyes.   Image: Source   To cope with allergies, I’ve heard some pretty creative (though NOT doctor recommended nor evidence-based) solutions including sleeping with a wet washcloth over the face, eating “local” honey to expose the body to pollens or drinking apple cider vinegar. With my friends going to such extremes to fight allergies, you can imagine how excited I was to see a new paper in JAMA reporting on a 3-year study of sublingual immunotherapy for grass pollen allergy sufferers.   Image: Source   Sublingual immunotherapy is being explored as an alternative to injection therapies (or subcutaneous immunotherapy), where small amounts of allergens are injected into patients over the course of months and years to build immunity and prevent the allergic reaction. Allergy shots have been used for nearly 100 years and evidence shows that they are highly effective, especially against many pollen species. It is also more cost-effective than simply treating allergic symptoms. With sublingual immunotherapy, instead of injections, the patient takes either a drop solution or tablet under...

Specialty That is Right For You

Link from The University of Virginia School of Medicine, Material from book “How to Choose a Medical Specialty”, by Anita Taylor Flickr | steven…ng   Decisions…decisions…every medical student has enough on their plate to begin with so the added stress of trying to choose which specialty suits you best is an unnecessary burden. BUT have no fear; there is a fast, easy and effective test to help you make this decision. Click below to check it out!   Specialty Test   Website from University of Virginia School of Medicine.   This material was originally published in the book “How to Choose a Medical Specialty”, by Anita Taylor. Anita graduated from Bryn Mawr College with an B.A. in Sociology and from Wake Forest University with a master’s degree in education and counseling. She is an Associate Professor and serves as the director of Volunteer Faculty Outreach and co-advisor to the Family Medicine Interest Group for the Department of Family Medicine. The author of “How to Choose a Medical Specialty,”, 4th edition, she is the OHSU Director of Career Advising for the medical students. She also has a special interest in physician and medical family life planning as well as faculty development. She and her husband, Robert B. Taylor, M.D. have 2 children and 4...