Autoimmunity: Immune System Takes a Toll On Itself

There has been an evident rise in autoimmune diseases during recent years. According to National Institute of Health (NIH) approximately 24 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases and the prevalence is rising. Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease and asthma are some common examples. Autoimmune diseases are some of the most complex and hard-to-treat immune system related diseases. The first step towards cure is understanding Your immune system is essentially your detailed security; it can distinguish between what belongs in your body and what doesn’t. When a virus, bacteria, parasite or any other dangerous external pathogen targets your body, the immune system shoots and kills it. Unfortunately, though this is not always perfect. Sometimes the immune system starts targeting our own body and if this persists, it can lead to an autoimmune disease or autoimmunity. “Auto” means self, so autoimmunity basically means that your body takes an aim at itself. There are 90 characterized autoimmune diseases and this number has been on a stark rise in the recent years. Since the 1950s, the incidence of celiac disease alone has quadrupled, lupus rates have tripled and type 1 diabetes has escalated by 23% in the last decade alone. Autoimmune diseases vary greatly in the organs they affect and in their clinical manifestations, with some being limited to particular tissues and others being systemic or disseminated. Because most patients with...

How to Distinguish Yourself the Residency Letter of Intent

A residency letter of intent can be a challenge, but not impossible. If you attack this mountain of a task in an organized manner, you can get it done. You want to avoid writing a letter of intent that comes across as generic. There needs to be some feel to it and allow the reader of the letter to get to know you. Don’t believe that your achievements are borderline and sell yourself short. Everything that you have achieved came with hard work and this is just another step towards your end goal. Take time to write your residency letter of intent because it is a valuable piece. This letter can determine the outcome of your acceptance. A lot of people wait until they basically run out of time and then just rush through it. This is when you write a generic version. If you want to stand out amongst the masses, apply these tips. Brainstorm before you start No one ever said that brainstorming is a waste of time and you should apply it to your letter of intent. Really take some time to think about what distinguishes you from those who are applying as well. Write down your strengths and weaknesses. Now establish which of these you are going to include in your letter of intent. The time spent on this brainstorming session won’t be wasted. Instead,...

6 Books for Future Doctors to Read, Part 2

Medical students and aspiring health professionals may already read their fair share of literature, but check out these books for future doctors. Click here to check out Part 1! “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” by Sam Quinones The opioid epidemic is perhaps our greatest public health crisis. To put this in perspective, overdoses claim more lives in the U.S. annually than car accidents. As a doctor, you’ll very likely see patients who are struggling with addiction. In “Dreamland,” Sam Quinones humanizes these patients by depicting how powerful opioids lay claim on our nervous systems. Quinones also delves deep into the forces that have driven the epidemic, including pharmaceutical companies’ heavy reliance on barebones research to support the widespread usage of pain meds. “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi Paul Kalanithi was an accomplished neurosurgery resident, well on his way to becoming a prominent surgeon-researcher. But, his life plans completely changed when he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. In “When Breath Becomes Air,” Kalanithi examines the meaning of life when on the brink of death. Although Kalanithi passed away in 2015, his memory lives on with his beautifully written, insightful memoir. “Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery” by Henry Marsh In “Do No Harm,” Henry Marsh talks about his life as a neurosurgeon. Aspiring doctors will learn a ton from...

Rheumatology Personal Statement Writing for Foreign Medical Applicants

Writing a personal statement for an application in another country brings on its own set of challenges. This is not something new and a lot of students had to master the art of doing so. It does not make it any easier, but there are some steps you can take to overcome this challenge. Every country has its own procedures and application criteria. Before you start writing your personal statement, you want to study the information of the set country’s personal statement rules. Do not assume that you can do it in the same fashion as you would in your home country. One would believe when it comes to medicine, the rules should remain unchanged. The reason behind the different set of rules is that every country faces its own challenges and needs. When you adhere to this understanding, it becomes easier to master. If I think about rheumatology personal statement writing, the information will be similar, but the format and application thereof will differ. Here are some of the best tips to write a rheumatology personal statement and come out on top. Copy Carefully It is easy to find personal statement samples online for any career, but you want to be careful with that one. You could just copy a sample rheumatology personal statement, but it is going to cost you a lot. Even if you are applying...

Why Sharing Your Medical School Story is Important

This semester, as I endure the long but exciting application process to medical school, I’m taking an upper-level English writing class that is appropriately titled “Writing in the Community.” This course is designed to liberate stories, both within ourselves and within our community. My community placement choice is with Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, and I hope to have the honor of connecting with pediatric cancer patients to share their stories and give a voice to their fears, joys, worries, and smiles. I think there is immense power in telling stories, especially as I peer into my future career where I will meet people daily that have interesting and important stories to share. One of the reasons I chose to become a physician is to meet people from every background and every situation and get down and dirty with them in their biggest fears, mistakes, worries, and concerns. To get to this point, though, I must be able to effectively share my story and even more importantly, listen to someone else’s story. In a society that is fogged up with noise from ourselves, social media, and a busy schedule, taking the time to stop and listen is an often-neglected skill. In this class, I’ve learned that to tell someone else’s meaningful, honest story, I have to tell mine. Everyone has a story to share, even if it is buried under layers...

Why You Should Pick The Most Competitive Specialty

The first time I was told to pursue a competitive specialty I was dumbfounded. But now two years later, I’m telling you to do the same. To be clear, I’m not arguing we all attempt to be plastic surgeons or dermatologist. Props to those who can stand the OR and/or skin rashes. We just need to get into the mindset as if we trying to be one. This change in mindset has led my CV to go from subpar to top tier! The Difference in Mindset Between Those Who Choose Competitive Specialities: This isn’t true for all but I’ve found a difference between my classmates pursuing Ortho and those knowing they wanted to do primary care. Both groups are insanely smart, but the Ortho bros are more likely to seek out opportunities (research, conference, faculty interactions, etc.) Again not true for both. I know plenty of future primary care docs who are machines in their accomplishments. But the ortho bro knows he needs to be competitive in a competitive specialty. Thus he works hard at getting good grades, doing well on Step 1, excelling on rotations, and also cranking out research results. The pressure of competitiveness pushes them to ask, “what else can I accomplish”. My Own Journey: I haven’t talked much about my own specialty desires on the blog much. It’s not because I’m actively trying to hide it. I just found...

The De-Sciencing of American Medicine and What It Means to You

With all the talk about “evidence-based medicine,” you might think that doctors were becoming much more focused on rigorous science. But like the names attached to bills in Congress—such as the Affordable Care Act, which outlaws affordable insurance, the language used in the movement to fundamentally transform America and American medicine usually means the opposite of what it suggests. Are older doctors uneducated in science, and do they base their treatments on opinion, intuition, or outdated dogma, while younger doctors use objective observations and analysis? Consider the kind of medical student our prestigious medical schools are now seeking. In former years, premeds were notorious nerds, usually science majors, constantly studying to make grades in hard subjects. High scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) required ability for quantitative thinking and a foundation of factual scientific knowledge. Since 2015, the new MCAT includes “situational judgment tests.” The president of the entity that makes the test, Darrell Kirch of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), intends to redefine what makes a good doctor. “I believe it is critical to our future to transform health care. I am not talking about tweaking it. I am talking about true transformation.” Ezekiel Emanuel asks in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, Feb 20, 2018), “Does Medicine Overemphasize IQ?” A high IQ is no guarantee that a physician can “lead a multidisciplinary health team...