A New ‘Cancer Pen’ Can Help Detect Tumors

In an effort to reduce the risk of re-operation in surgeries for the removal of cancerous tissue, scientists have been developing tools to bring fast and accurate tissue analysis directly to the operating room. A few weeks ago, our Video of the Week featured the work of an MIT research team that’s built a portable multiphoton microscope that can be employed during surgery with the same goal. Michael Giacomelli, PhD, Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his laboratory team have developed a portable system for multiphoton imaging (portable MPM) of large tissue samples within an operating surgical suite. “The system enables true 10x/20x/40x imaging at video rates using VH&E rendering to produce virtual histology images in real-time.” The technology is currently being tested in breast cancer surgeries, since many lumpectomies result in second surgeries to remove more tissue after histology from the first surgery is complete. With imaging taking place during surgery, these subsequent reoperations may be reduced significantly. Currently, doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering are considering the tool and/or technique for skin cancer and prostate cancer as well. Researchers at the University of Texas have now developed a ‘cancer pen’ that is connected to a mass spectrometer that can comfortably reside in an operating suite. The MasSpec Pen, when pressed against the tissue in question, releases a droplet of water that collects some elements of the contacted tissue, and is then sucked back into the device...

The Future Prescription Drugs Being Developed Right Now

At any one time, there are hundreds of drugs being developed around the world. Some of them could change the way we treat conditions such as lung cancer and asthma. Here are six drugs currently in development that have a real chance of finding their way onto shelves. Drugs are a very touchy subject for aspiring doctors — medical students have definitely taken the time to learn about prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical industry forms a big portion of the affairs that physicians carry out everyday. From the drugs prescribed to the clinical trials conducted, medicine is closely intermingled with the development and use of new medications. However, issues arise when the reporting on the safety, efficacy, and utility of these drugs remains undisclosed due to certain conventional procedures. If you are a medical student who has gone through clinical rotations, you might likely have had this experience (especially on the surgical floors). If you are just starting medical school, it’s something to look forward to! Medical students must also keep cognizant of the opioid epidemic. All it took was one-hundred words to kill over hundreds of thousands of Americans. A new report from the New England Journal of Medicine tells the story of how this short doctor’s note helped facilitate today’s American opioid epidemic. Read more about it here. Since opioids were not widely used forty years ago, so doctors did not have...

How To Study For Your Next Test Like A Pro

Looking back on my first year, I know now that I had no idea what I was doing when I told myself I was studying. It sounds funny because I have been studying science, and on the pre-health track, for more than a decade. Studying for any health professional school, including medical school is a beast. You can watch every YouTube video after searching how to study for medical school (I did!) and still do poorly on an exam. There is no secret and there is no magic involved. When it comes down to it, you just have to sit at a desk and make yourself understand the material you’re learning. There are a few things I learned along the way that might be useful to a student starting their first day in a rigorous, academic program. Cramming never works. In order to commit material to memory, you really can’t cram. Of course we all know classmates and friends who argue that they just can’t study any other way. Cramming makes me very nervous. I’m one of those people who just can’t recall what I’ve learned on the exam. I completely blank. In some cases – trust me, this happens – you really just have no other choice but to cram through the night. The best way to avoid this is to keep on top of the material as...

What Can Nurses Do That Doctors Can’t?

Patients are increasingly turning to nurse practitioners instead of physicians for a number of reasons. For one thing, they may be more accessible since physicians’ offices are sometimes overcrowded and an appointment is hard to come by. It can also help lower the cost of medical treatments since nurses don’t bill out as high as doctors do. Mostly it’s because people are coming to realize that nurse practitioners are extremely capable and knowledgeable health professionals that can offer a high level of excellent care. In fact, because of their background in nursing, some even say that nurse practitioners have a unique ability to make stronger connections with their patients. As more nurse practitioners open their own practices or become more commonplace in medical facilities, the big question that’s been on the mind of those in the medical community is if nurses can actually replace doctors. There is no simple answer, but there’s no doubt that nurse practitioners are certainly making an impact in the healthcare world. Take a look at how nurse practitioners compare with doctors, and why in some cases, their services might be interchangeable. What can nurse practitioners do NPs have to go well beyond the education and training of a regular RN in order to practice at that advanced level. For starters, you must complete a master’s or doctoral degree program, and then complete advanced practice...

Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures: The Opioid Epidemic and the Electronic Health Record

The over-prescription of medication has reached epidemic proportions. While politicians give speeches and draft legislature to address the opioid epidemic, the improper use of prescription medication impacts our society in many ways. For example, when a patient presents with a cold virus and is prescribed an antibiotic “just in case,” not only does the antibiotic cost the patient money, but it will have no effect on the cold virus. On a larger scale, these unnecessary antibiotics may encourage the evolution of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Most medical practices in America have adopted some sort of electronic health record system, but Americans have resisted a national electronic health record database, citing valid concerns about privacy and government overreach. However, Rumball-Smith et al., argue in JAMA that if carefully implemented and used wisely, the electronic health record (EHR) could address systematic problems when it comes to prescription drugs and “be a powerful vehicle for measurement and intervention around low-value care.” Image by mcfarlandmo / CC by 2.0 So why not implement a national database for electronic health records? The main advantage of this system is also the biggest threat – the ability to track information down the to the individual level presents an opportunity to intervene. But at what cost to privacy? A national EHR could show if a patient was soliciting pain medication from multiple doctors and flag that patient’s record. Or,...

5 Different Types of Pre-Med Students You’ll Meet in College

Pre-Med is a jungle of a scholastic program, and you will meet tons of characters along the way — here are 5 of the Pre-Med students you’ll meet in college. The Daddy’s Money You’ve met this kid, whether it be because you see him pulling up to class in his new BMW sport, or because he asked you if his Rolex looked good with his outfit one day in class; you know him. He is the direct reflection of his father’s money. He didn’t earn his way into college like most, his last name just happens to be on each large donation check and probably above one of the buildings on campus. In class he’ll make the witty comments and joke about almost every topic, and that’s simply because he can. He will never really fully understand any of the topics you cover in class and will coast by maintaining low B’s and high C’s. When he actually shows up to class he mostly just plays on his phone or laptop, coasting through life he is a happy kid, that’s only because he knows that daddy’s money will get him a career after college as well. The Brains You have a question about the lecture you just sat through? Don’t understand the topic the old professor just mumbled about for 2 hours? That’s ok, The Brains will help. The...

How To Get Recommendation Letters

Letters of recommendation are fairly specialty dependent, so I won’t get into how to select your letter-writers. Instead, you should just ask your mentor who you need letters from, then introduce yourself to those people and and spend as much time with them as possible. Let them know right away that you’re interested in getting a letter from them—they will pay closer attention to you and have much more to say in your letter. When you formally ask for letters make sure you have proper etiquette. 1) Set up a meeting as far in advance as possible. Many of the people that you will need letters from probably have assistants, so you should set up this meeting through their assistant. Call or email the assistant, explaining that you will be asking for a letter and that the attending should be expecting this meeting. You can also attach your CV and supporting documents to this email, although you don’t have to if they’re not up to snuff yet. Try to meet toward the end of a rotation with the attending, so they have already had a chance to get to know you but you are still fresh in their memory. 2) Add them as a letter writer on ERAS before the meeting, making sure you have their correct name, degree(s), and title. Then print their unique LOR information sheet and bring it to...