Med School Teaching Innovations

Until recent years, the whole concept of medical school has remained largely unchanged – 2 years of basic science and 2 years of clinical practice with many teachers working off the experiential education model of “see one, do one, teach one.” But advances in education theory and the shifting nature of the medical profession have prompted medical schools to re-evaluate the standard educational program in order to achieve better learning outcomes and to reflect the experience of being a doctor in the real world. Here are some things they are trying:   Flipping the classroom In a typical course, students go to class, sit through a few hours of lectures and then go home to do coursework such as solving practice problems or writing papers on their own time. In the “flipped” classroom, students listen to or watch lectures on their own time, via video clips online or podcasts, before attending class. This allows classroom time to be spent tackling practice problems through group work, guided discussions or debates. Research has shown that this flipped system results in “significant learning gains when compared to traditional instruction.” One theory is that after watching lectures at home, students can immediately apply what they’ve learned the night before, which increases uptake and processing of the desired skills. It’s also a chance for professors to provide feedback on any questions or misconceptions about...

Benefits of MD/MPH programs

What is an MPH? While medical training emphasizes clinical skills to treat individual patients, training in public health allows students to study ways to improve community health. Students pursuing a masters in public health (MPH) degree gain knowledge about the various threats to population health and learn ways to promote health and prevent disease.   The MD/MPH dual degree has become quite popular, as over 80 medical schools currently offer it. Some medical schools allow their students to complete both MD and MPH degrees concurrently. Others offer their students a leave of absence between their third and fourth years of medical school to complete their MPH degree.   Although an MPH is useful, it costs a lot of money, like other degrees. And, you can explore public health without pursuing an MPH—for example, as an MD student, you can still certainly help out in a public health research lab, if you’re interested. That’s why, before deciding to pursue an MPH, you have to consider how an MPH will enrich your medical education and how you’ll use it in your career. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself: how will I benefit from pursuing an MPH?     Benefit: In-depth training in research methodology As I mentioned earlier, you can do public health research without pursuing an MPH. However, an MPH will provide you with the skills needed to create and...

Contact Lenses With Biosensors Could Change Glucose Monitoring

Diabetes has been a huge problem in the U.S. in recent years, and those inflicted have a very difficult time managing their blood glucose levels. Glucose monitoring is typically done with devices that measure glucose in blood drops. Not only is this procedure uncomfortable, but it is also difficult to get diabetic patients to comply to regular visits to their physician to get the procedure done.   What if you could monitor your patient’s glucose levels with…contact lenses? And have the data sent to your smartphone? Yes, that’s right. Contact lenses embedded with transparent biosensors could allow doctors and patients to monitor glucose levels without the invasive prick-and-test approach.   Image: Source   Gregory S. Herman, PhD developed a compound composed of indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO), a semiconductor used in displays on TVs, smartphones, and tablets. Herman investigated in this technology’s biomedical applications.   He speculated that bio-sensing contact lenses could provide several benefits, including: – Reducing the risk of diabetes-related health problems – Eliminating painful continuous glucose monitoring systems – Improving compliance in patients – Increasing speed of detection and gathering of data   To test his idea, Herman and his colleagues used a biosensor with a transparent sheet of IGZO transistors and glucose oxidase, an enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of glucose to gluconic acid…aka breaks down glucose. “As a result, the pH level in the...

Making Medical School More Compassionate

For the most part, we study to become doctors because we want to help people. We want to save lives, heal the sick and make the world a better place. But when these dreams come up against the intense pressures of medical school, students can feel helpless and out of control. And in the worst cases, some commit suicide.   Image: Source   To prevent these tragedies, medical schools are taking steps to become more compassionate in their training programs, both to help students succeed and to foster a sense of compassion towards their patients. Studies have shown that medical students start to lose their empathy within the very first year of medical school. This puts a hamper on patient communication and can limit the doctor-patient relationship, one of the characteristics most valued by patients. But it’s no wonder that students are losing empathy amidst the med school grind.   After recent tragedies, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is taking deliberate steps to make their medical training more compassionate. Quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the Dean for Medical Education, David Miller explained that “Medical school is a cauldron,” with residents who “feel very often helpless and hopeless, the machine is intense and churns on relentlessly.” In an essay in the New England Journal of Medicine, Muller describes the compassion he found from colleagues, students and...

Infographic: Future Pandemics

Featured From Gap Medics Blog   As predictions go, pandemics are one of the scariest. Inevitable and with a huge unknown quantity, pandemics are something that even the World Health Organisation are urging people not to ignore, with the frightening forecast that there will be, “sometime in the future, an event that will kill…somewhere between 80 and 90 million people.”   There are lots of hypothetical situations and theories about where a virus will come from, what it will do and the devastation it will have. In fact, there are already scientists working on vaccines that the human population may need in the event of a global outbreak. There’s actually a World Health Organisation Global Vaccine Plan!   In this infographic, we take a look at some of the possible pandemics of the future and how you can best prepare yourself against the spread of germs....

Major Advancements in Brain-to-Computer Interface for Paralyzed Individuals

Featured From The Doctor’s Channel   Video: Source   Over the last two and a half years, Stanford University researchers have been developing and improving a brain-computer interface (BCI) that allows paralyzed individuals to input data into a computer using only their brainwaves (via implant). Recently, one patient with a spinal cord injury, and two patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) have been able to enter up to 39 characters per minute (translating to about 8 words per minute) using the technology.   Krishna Shenoy, PhD, one of the senior co-authors of the paper published in eLife, says “This study reports the highest speed and accuracy, by a factor of three, over what’s been shown before.” Dr. Shenoy has been working on BCI development since the early 2000s and has spent the last two years working on this project with Chethan Pandarinath, PhD, and postdoctoral scholar Paul Nuyujukian, MD, PhD. “These high-performing BCI algorithms’ use in human clinical trials demonstrates the potential for this class of technology to restore communication to people with paralysis,” according to Nuyujukian.   It is important to note that this “typing” performance was achieved without any kind of autocorrection software.   Click here to read the quoted article published in Stanford Medicine‘s News Center.   Featured Image:...

Would You Google a Patient?

With social media permeating our lives, the lines between professional life and personal life often become blurred. Going on a first date? A quick Google search can give you a glimpse into your date’s life and potential conversation topics. Taking a class with a new professor? Google will give you a heads-up as to his or her professional interests or recent publications. Have an appointment for a check-up with a new doctor? Many websites will give you patient reviews and ratings of the practice.   …But what if your doctor is Googling you right back?     Researchers have had the better part of two decades to figure out if doctors could use social media to the benefit of their patients, but there still seems to be a wary skepticism among med school students and practicing physicians of all ages that prevents investigation of potential benefits. After all, knowledge is power, but it often comes with an ethical dilemma.   Research from James Brown et al at the University of Sydney found that 1 in 5 doctors surveyed had received a “friend request” from a patient. A similar survey from Bosslet et al found that 93.5% of medical students surveyed used social media in their everyday lives, but it was practicing physicians who were more likely to have looked up the profile of a patient or patient’s family members...