Summer Work Experience For Medics – How To Ramp Up Your All-Important Applications

When you’re considering your future career as an MD, what’s the biggest factor that will likely contribute to you landing a place at that college, or even scoring your dream residency? Could it be how long you kept your head in a book? Well, clocking up the hours in the library certainly helps! Will it be your bedside manner? Fortunately, this is something you can hone during your ward rounds, as you gain more and more exposure with the patients in your care. What about what extracurricular activities you committed yourself to during the summer break? That could certainly be a factor – bear with me, here! The short answer is relevant, educational and vocational experience: both fantastic grades as well as being able to show dedication to the field you’re interested in. The power couple of good grades (or, moreso, a good degree) and strong extracurricular experience can get you very far – as you’ll know from both your college and med school applications. For both pre-meds, and those anticipating their college days with a keen interest in medicine, the perfect time to build up your relevant experience is during the long summer break. Yes, of course this is a time to wind down, but why not build up a bank of solid, relevant work experience hours? We’ve pulled together our top tips for gaining relevant work experience...

Ketamine: The New “Miracle” for Depression?

Although it is known among the general population mostly as a popular party drug, ketamine was originally invented in a commercial laboratory in 1962.  In 1970, it was approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic among soldiers in the Vietnam War. Non-medical use of ketamine began in the U.S. at roughly the same time, but it wasn’t until 1999 that ketamine became a federally controlled substance in the U.S. Despite its bad rap as a dangerous post-party drug, ketamine is listed as a “core” medicine in the WHO’s Essential Drugs List, as it is produced very cheaply around the world and is fast and effective as an anesthetic for minor procedures. Image: Source However, ketamine is having a new heyday as patients and clinicians are looking to the drug to help treat severe depression. Although it is still considered an “off-label” use of the medication, researchers from the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, have just completed clinical trials using ketamine to treat depression. Although the initial trial consisted of just 16 senior citizens, the researchers are extremely optimistic about the emerging results, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Lead Professor Colleen Woo reported to ABC News in Australia that “all the symptoms of depression across the board disappeared. So [the patients] felt better, they were able to enjoy things, they were interested in...

You Come First: The Hippocratic Oath Matters To Students, Too

The Hippocratic Oath, an oath historically taken by physicians to uphold certain ethical standards, states, “I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required“. A pretty straightforward statement, something that pre-med and medical students typically understand – we have to do everything in our power to help our patients. We spend countless hours in libraries, labs, and hospitals trying to better ourselves so one day we can help others. The stress is very apparent, medicine is obnoxiously competitive and it takes a toll on everyone involved, students included, whether we like to admit it or not. We’re always so engrossed in our studies and endeavors that we forget one simple, but significant detail: we’re human too! Throughout history, healthcare (especially mental health) of healthcare professionals has been stigmatized. It is often viewed that since we take care of others, it is a sign of weakness on our part when we have those same problems, those that we encounter and treat on a daily basis. A lot of the times, the stress faced by students and practitioners of medicine leads to a hypocrisy, in the sense that we cope with our stress in the very ways that we advise our patients not to. Whether it is excessive, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, smoking or drinking, etc, all of it is detrimental to our physical...

7 MCAT Study Tips For The Busy College Student

There is no getting around it, the MCAT may make you or break you. Yes, you are more than a number. Yes, your extracurricular activities count. But, in order to show the admissions board what you “bring to the table,” you must meet that schools minimum score requirement for the MCAT. The MCAT is scary, it is, but the test can be conquered with the right prep and planning. I’m here to help calm your nerves, offer you a pillar of hope during your time of studying, and give you some tips on how to make your study time more efficient. The most important thing you can do is have a schedule and try not to deviate from it. There are numerous websites and companies who have sample study plans to choose from that can make your planning easier or you can devise on your own. Most of the templates follow a general trend and look something like this: 6:30-8:00 am – Wake up, eat breakfast, exercise, shower 8:00-12:00 pm – Study for the MCAT (Prep with questions, read material etc.) 12:00-2:00 pm – Break 2:00-5:00 pm – MCAT prep 5:00-7:00 pm – Break 7:00-9:00 pm – MCAT prep 9:00-10:30 pm – Unwind, go to bed. This schedule makes the MCAT look not too scary am I right? Well, usually if you’re scheduled to take the MCAT, you’re in...

PODCAST: How Do We Treat Psychiatric Disorders?

From the days of Freud, psychotherapy had been a dominant form of treating psychiatric disorders. But more recently, psychotherapy use has declined in favor of medications. In fact, according to a 2010 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the number of patients in outpatient mental health facilities receiving only psychotherapy fell from 15.9 percent to 10.5 percent from 1998 to 2007, while the number of patients receiving only medication rose from 44.1 percent to 57.4 percent. Now, there are a number of reasons behind this shift. On the one hand, many in the science community look down to psychotherapy as an unstandardized mode of treatment. Meanwhile, to these critics, medications have proven to be safe and efficacious after numerous clinical trials. These criticisms seem sound, but is a decline in psychotherapy use for the better? Does the use of medication alone ignore the social and cultural components unique to psychiatric disorders? In the first episode of The Void Podcast, I talk to psychiatrist Dr. Loren Sobel to answer these questions. Dr. Sobel practices psychodynamic therapy—a form of psychotherapy that seeks to uncover the psychological roots of patient’s mental illness. In addition to discussing the effects of the shift from psychotherapy to medication, Dr. Sobel and I speak at-length about the causes—including the scientific community’s greater dependence a biological model of disease. Have a...

The 5 Second Rule – A Scientific Examination

It’s a lazy Saturday and you’re at home having a leisurely lunch, watching YouTube on your phone while you eat a delicious bologna sandwich. The next thing you know, those crazy YouTube cats have made you laugh so hard that you drop your sandwich – what do you do? Do you throw the contaminated sandwich away? Or do you think to yourself “five second rule,” pick it up and continue eating? Everyone knows the 5 Second Rule: if you drop food on the floor, it’s okay to eat, as long as you pick it up within five seconds. A researcher at the University of Illinois found that 56% of men and 70% of women surveyed had heard of this rule (or its alternative version, the 3 Second Rule), qualifying it as a legit Western Cultural Phenomenon. So, is this real or what? Surprisingly, studies have given conflicting views as to what exactly the 5 Second Rule means for our health and welfare. Jillian Clarke, the researcher from U of Illinois found that food was contaminated within five seconds of being dropped onto ceramic tile inoculated with E. coli. She had some trials and tribulations in the course of her research – at first she was simply going to drop the food on the lab floor, but the lab floors turned out to be *too* clean. She also found that women tended...

What’s The Best Part About Being A Medical Student?

How would you define a “medical student”? In the simplest sense, a medical student is an individual (or creature, depending on which attending you’re talking to) who knows just enough to realize what’s going on yet not enough to be entrusted with any real responsibility. While this may seem demeaning to some, I myself find it to be absolutely fascinating. For instance, imagine being in the operating room as a medical student. You know what procedure is going on, why it’s being done, and maybe even what could go wrong (depending on whether you quickly googled the procedure during morning rounds). However, you are essentially free from concerns of making sure that the procedure goes exactly as planned and can instead appreciate the art of it all. You are there to learn and pretty much nothing else. What more could you want! The residents and attendings are there to make sure that the patient pulls through while you are there all scrubbed in to hold the retractor and watch the magic unfold. I recall being in a laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery where I was entrusted with the responsibility of holding the camera and following the surgeons as they did the resecting and suturing. It was at that moment I realized what a cool job this could be. The flexibility and opportunity to figure out what specialty you want to...