Tips For The New Semester

Ahh, a stack of new syllabi, unopened textbooks, unused notebooks, and fresh packages of pens, pencils, and highlighters…it’s the start of a new semester. Going in, you may think you have a plan, but somehow it always gets derailed. You find yourself pulling all-nighters, losing track of your diet, missing deadlines, and spending too much money on coffee. Then suddenly, you emerge after finals exhausted, surprised that you even made it to the end.   We’re here to change that!   Here are some tips to help you stay on track this semester.   1. Stay Organized If you find yourself forgetting deadlines or exam dates, it’s definitely time to think about more effectively organizing your school calendar. Make sure that you have a planner, calendar, or set reminders (or all of the above!) so that you never miss a beat. It really helps to look ahead at all of your assignments and exams for each class throughout the semester and note the important dates. You can even color code each class to make staying on top of your work even easier.   Image: Source   2. Make a Plan …And stick to it. If you often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, you should think about making a schedule. By carving out a schedule, ahead of time, you will be more likely to fit...

3D-Bioprinting Technology Produces Blood Vessels in Monkeys

3d-bioprinting is not a new concept, as we have seen in previous articles on Almost Docs. This fascinating technology has opened up countless possibilities, especially pertaining to the future of medicine. So far, bioprinting has successfully produced medical models, prosthetic parts, heart valves, and even organs. Now, this technology is able to produce something even more intricate: blood vessels.     In 2015, Chinese biotechnology company Revotek released a 3d-bioprinter that fabricates blood vessels using a bio-ink made from stem cells. Just before the close of 2016, Kang Yujian, chief scientist and CEO of Revotek, announced the first successful transplant of bioprinted blood vessels into the abdominal aortas of 30 rhesus monkeys.   As shown in the video below, this technology allows researchers to produce new layers of cells to fuse with the old ones. In just a month, the newly created cells had completely blended in.   Video: Source   All monkeys have survived thus far and the 3d-printed biomaterial has achieved regeneration of the endothelial and muscle cells that compose authentic blood vessels. The success of this experiment could one day have far reaching implications for the nearly two billion patients with cardiovascular disease.   Featured Image:...

TED Talks For Food Lovers #10: What’s Wrong With What We Eat

There’s no better way to bring it all home with a talk that reviews some of the basic facts behind what we eat, why it’s bad, and the need to change. TED speaker Mark Bittman brings his wealth of knowledge from years of experience as a New York Times food writer, pointing to the necessary changes that need to be implemented in order to save human society from itself.     Diet and health are highly interdependent. The food people eat over the course of a lifetime often plays a huge role in determining many of the ailments they incur. Referring to some recent exploration into the field of microbiomics, the large quantity and variety of bacteria in our body may likewise be acutely as well as chronically transforming due to the food we eat and the changes we make to our diets. Lastly, for aspiring medical personnel, quick food sources such as cold pizzas, Chipotle veggie bowls, and espresso shots often make up our daily sustenance. What effect do these have on our health?   Over the course of the next several articles, I would like to take you all on a run through some of the most interesting TED talks on food, some quite interesting and others downright genius. As you watch these videos, reflect on the close ties between nutrition and medicine, and what we can...

ACA Repeal – Good or Bad for Doctors?

As Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the Republican-led Congress is making strategic moves to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. “Obamacare.” Despite their promises to immediately replace the ACA with a new plan, no solid details have been given out by Trump or Republicans.   The effects of the ACA on the lives and practice of doctors has been complex, and opinions as to whether the law has been good or bad for doctors are clearly divided along party lines. There is high anxiety surrounding the proposed repeal from patients and doctors alike. Without a clear plan in place, it’s hard to know how a repeal would affect doctors and the future careers of current med school students.   Image: Source   Here are some concerns when considering the repeal:   Fewer patients in a smaller insurance pool – The ACA has enabled roughly 22 million previously-uninsured Americans to purchase health insurance or obtain it through expanded Medicaid programs. The ACA also has rules in place that end pre-existing condition exclusions for children, allow young adults under the age of 26 to be covered under their parents’ insurance and prohibit arbitrary withdrawals of insurance coverage. If repealed with no immediate replacement, millions of people could be dropped from their plans and left unable to purchase new plans. Fewer people with insurance equals...

When Epidemics Turn Endemic

By Laurie Breen   In 2016 the Zika virus epidemic dominated medical news headlines, especially with the drama that played out when some health experts called for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro to be cancelled. But by September WHO officials announced that there had been no confirmed Zika cases coming out of the Olympic games among visitors or athletes and on November 18th the WHO ended Zika’s designation as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”   However, when diseases are no longer drawing the urgent attention of the public or the media, the interest in funding research dies out too. In December, the WHO issued a Report to Donors that highlighted the need for continued funding to seek answers to remaining questions on the Zika outbreak and its ongoing effects.   Image: Source   In a JAMA Viewpoint article, Catharine I. Paules, MD and Anthony S. Fauci, MD, the Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), draw a comparison between Zika and to two other recent mosquito-borne epidemics that have become boring old endemic diseases – West Nile Virus and Chikungunya.   According to the authors, West Nile first appeared in 1999 with cases reported in New York. There was surge in diagnoses in 2002 as the virus spread throughout the United States, but as the rate of infection flattened out, public interest also...

Adult Asthma? – Why It’s Worthwhile to Re-Evaluate

By Laurie Breen Asthma is a chronic condition with no known cure that can be diagnosed at any age. In the United States alone there are over 25 million people with diagnosed asthma, and 7 million are children. Children with asthma typically have intermittent asthma attacks, but asthma symptoms in adults are usually persistent and require treatment with daily medication.   Image: Source   Children with chronic asthma have been shown to outgrow their condition about 75% of the time, but what about adults? A new study published in JAMA by authors Aaron, Vandemheen & FitzGerald suggests that potentially up to one-third of adults diagnosed with asthma don’t show symptoms a year later.   Image: Source   The study gathered over 700 participants who had been diagnosed with asthma at some point over the past five years and weaned them off their asthma medications. Then, for over 12 months, researchers followed up with a series of bronchial challenge tests to determine if the patients were still showing asthmatic reactions. By the end of 12 months, 613 participants had completed the study and researchers could rule out an asthma diagnosis in 203 of the participants – a recovery rate of 33%.   Image: Source   Another interesting finding during this study was that 2% of participants were found to have had a serious condition that had been misdiagnosed as asthma....

7 Ways to Be a Remarkably Average Pre-Med

Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 Time: 6:00-7:00PM Location: Online Classroom Cost: FREE Register here!   Volunteering, shadowing, research, leadership…the list goes on. Pre-meds work so hard to stand out for medical school, but they all end up doing the same activities. When the time comes to apply, so many of them look identical on paper.   The checklist is good, but it’s only half the battle. Successful applicants not only do the checklist, but they find a way to make themselves stand out from the crowd. You can either: 1) be better than everyone else (4.0 GPA, 38 MCAT), or 2) be different from other students applying to med school.   Come to this class, led by Savvy Pre-Med author and Passport Admissions founder, Rob Humbracht, to learn what you can do to stand out (while also staying true to yourself!) Warning: it’s not easy to figure out the best path for you; this presentation will challenge you to take bold steps toward becoming the very best applicant you can be.   Register...