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Medical students and professionals sharing their thoughts and experiences.
9bca585dddeebcbc8da95048f32b341d
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Clinics - Making the most of it

Commencing the first clinical year is a milestone. Things will now be different as your student career steers straight into the unchartered waters of clinical medicine. New challenges and responsibilities lie ahead and not just in an academic sense. After all this is the awaited moment, the start of the apprenticeship you have so desired and laboured for. It won’t be long before these clinical years like the preclinical years before them, will seem just as distant and insular, so why not make the most of it? The first days hold so much excitation and promise and for many they deliver, however, it would be wise not to be too optimistic. I am afraid your firm head standing abreast the doors in a prophetic splaying of arms is an unlikely sight. In this new clinical environment, it is natural to be a little flummoxed. The quizzical looks of doctors and nurses as you first walk in, a sure sign of your unexpected arrival, is a recurring theme. If the wards are going to be your new hunting ground, proper introductions with the medical team are in order. This might seem like a task of Herculean proportions, particularly in large teaching hospitals. Everyone is busy. Junior doctors scuttling around the ward desks job lists in hand, the registrar probably won’t have noticed you and as luck would have it your consultant firm head is away at a conference. Perseverance during these periods of frustration is a rewarding quality. Winning over the junior doctors with some keenness will help you no end. What I mean to say is that their role in our learning as students extends further than the security of sign-off signatures a week before the end of the rotation. They will give you opportunities. Take them! Although it never feels like it at the time, being a medical student does afford some privileges. The student badge clipped to your new clinic clothes is a license to learn: to embark on undying streaks of false answers, to fail as many skills and clerkings as is required and to do so unabashed. Unfortunately, the junior doctors are not there purely for your benefit, they cannot always spare the time to directly observe a history taking or an examination, instead you must report back. With practice this becomes more of a tick box exercise: gleaning as much information and then reconfiguring it into a structured presentation. However, the performance goes unseen and unheard. I do not need to iterate the inherent dangers of this practice. Possible solutions? Well receiving immediate feedback is more obtainable on GP visits or at outpatient clinics. They provide many opportunities to test your questioning style and bedside manner. Performing under scrutiny recreates OSCE conditions. Due to time pressure and no doubt the diagnostic cogs running overtime, it is fatefully easy to miss emotional cues or derail a conversation in a way which would be deemed insensitive. Often it occurs subconsciously so take full advantage of a GP or a fellow firm mate’s presence when taking a history. Self-directed learning will take on new meaning. The expanse of clinical knowledge has a vertiginous effect. No longer is there a structured timetable of lectures as a guide; for the most part you are alone. Teaching will become a valued commodity, so no matter how sincere the promises, do not rest until the calendars are out and a mutually agreed time is settled. I would not encourage ambuscaded attacks on staff but taking the initiative to arrange dedicated tutorial time with your superiors is best started early. Consigning oneself to the library and ploughing through books might appear the obvious remedy, it has proven effective for the last 2-3 years after all. But unfortunately it can not all be learnt with bookwork. Whether it is taking a psychiatric history, venipuncture or reading a chest X-ray, these are perishable skills and only repeated and refined practice will make them become second nature. Balancing studying with time on the wards is a challenge. Unsurprisingly, after a day spent on your feet, there is wavering incentive to merely open a book. Keeping it varied will prevent staleness taking hold. Attending a different clinic, brushing up on some pathology at a post-mortem or group study sessions adds flavour to the daily routine. During the heated weeks before OSCEs, group study becomes very attractive. While it does cement clinical skills, do not be fooled. Your colleagues tend not to share the same examination findings you would encounter on an oncology ward nor the measured responses of professional patient actors. So ward time is important but little exposure to all this clinical information will be gained by assuming a watchful presence. Attending every ward round, while a laudable achievement, will not secure the knowledge. Senior members of the team operate on another plane. It is a dazzling display of speed whenever a monster list of patients comes gushing out the printer. Before you have even registered each patient’s problem(s), the management plan has been dictated and written down. There is little else to do but feed off scraps of information drawn from the junior doctors on the journey to the next bed. Of course there will be lulls, when the pace falls off and there is ample time to digest a history. Although it is comforting to have the medical notes to check your findings once the round is over, it does diminish any element of mystery. The moment a patient enters the hospital is the best time to cross paths. At this point all the work is before the medical team, your initial guesses might be as good as anyone else’s. Visiting A&E of your own accord or as part of your medical team’s on call rota is well worth the effort. Being handed the initial A&E clerking and gingerly drawing back the curtain incur a chilling sense of responsibility. Embrace it, it will solidify not only clerking skills but also put into practice the explaining of investigations or results as well as treatment options. If you are feeling keen you could present to the consultant on post-take. Experiences like this become etched in your memory because of their proactive approach. You begin to remember conditions associated with patient cases you have seen before rather than their corresponding pages in the Oxford handbook. And there is something about the small thank you by the F1 or perhaps finding your name alongside theirs on the new patient list the following morning, which rekindles your enthusiasm. To be considered part of the medical team is the ideal position and a comforting thought. Good luck. This blog post is a reproduction of an article published in the Medical Student Newspaper, Freshers 2013 issue.  
James Wong
over 3 years ago
0
3
69

In Search of the 'F***-it Button' Cure

Previously on Meducation.. The 'F***-it‘ Button’: an account of the (red) button that when activated triggers (in the initiator and possibly a nearby friend) a ‘mental state of no-return’; a mindset during which there is no form of resistance to indulging in whatever foodstuff is wanted, when wanted, (temporarily) guilt-free. Read my previous post here. In Search of the 'F***-it Button' Cure I do not know whether since writing the previous entry, with increased awareness of this ‘state of mind’, I have become a ‘F-it button’ hypochondriac, but I am sure that I have been increasingly experiencing ‘F*** button’ symptoms. This did not bother me at first: Boston Tea Party’s flapjack selection is the perfect essay incentive and, it is March therefore baggy jumpers are still legit… In other words, my increased ‘F***-it’ button tendencies did not seem worth addressing. However, my illness behaviour, like any other, influenced by economical (Boston Tea Party flapjacks are quite expensive), environmental (Baggy jumpers have limited capacity) and cultural factors (Lent), culminated in ‘help-seeking’ behaviour. Lent is a six and a half week period during which Christians, (and others who want to practice self-discipline), give up a luxury to remember the forty days and forty nights Jesus spent alone in the desert without food, being tempted by the Devil. With this in mind, my initial thoughts on Pancake Day was, ‘why not try give up the F***-it button..!?’. Feeling rather full and overindulged at the time – pathognomonic post-‘F***-it button’ symptoms – I sought to find my cure and decided to self-medicate… Baggini’s book. As I was on holiday, my first challenge was the ‘all-you-can-eat’ (‘eat-what-you-like’/’eat-as-much-as-you-like’) breakfast buffet. I always find that my ‘hunter-gatherer’ streak comes out in this kind of situation: stock up on as many K-Cals as possible in order to cope with the possibility of later starvation. This primitive approach, in combination with my indecisive nature, invariably results in assembling everything and anything from the buffet bar onto my plate and the ‘F***-it button’ is inevitably activated... At which point I order the full English breakfast. On the morning of Ash Wednesday I was determined to avoid this and, in anticipation of the ‘breakfast-buffet-F***-it button-trigger’, I consulted my book. One reason that Baginni cites for why we fail to stick to resolutions is that, whilst we may have a clear objective, we haven’t thought about it enough. That is to say, we may think that we have clearly decided not to do something, for example, ‘hit the ‘F-it button’’. However, we haven’t actually fully taken into account that we also have the belief that, of any given ‘buffet-bar-situation’, that it wouldn’t be ‘so bad’ if we indulged after all because,(for example), ‘we may be hungry later’. Thus, faced with temptation, the ‘F-it button’ is activated regardless of initial good intention. A solution to this problem is a form of ‘metacognition’, to draw what is known as a ‘bright line’, a clearly defined rule or standard. The ‘bright line’ should be achievable and not too restrictive. In my case, I made the rule, ‘no more than one portion of cereal and a pastry of choice at the buffet bar’. However, despite my ‘bright line’, the first day of Lent was a little bit of a fail… The problem with a ‘bright line’ is that if you don’t actually believe that the 'bright line' matters, when faced with temptation it will probably be crossed and… let’s just say, I put the extra eggs benedict, other pastry, creamy hot chocolate and couple of yoghurts down to this limitation. It seems that a ‘bright line’ only works if you believe in respecting it and, for the rest of the holiday I gave that ‘bright line’ all the respect it deserved. Lent was going really quite well. But then I got back to Bristol, to essay writing and to Boston Tea Party. I reached for Baggini’s book… ‘There isn’t a very strong relationship between capacity to engage in dietary restriction – to consciously restrict intake – and [low] BMI [because] in effect you’re expending so much energy making one kind of mental effort that you don’t leave yourself enough for others. This suggests that although metacognition can be useful in impulse control for one-off temptations, relying on it as a medium- or long-term strategy may not work.’ I have horrible feeling forty days counts as ‘medium’ to ‘long term’.  
Catherine Bruce
over 3 years ago
13
8
56

Do medics need to get over themselves?

 
Lucas Brammar
over 3 years ago
5d95646bb206b18ec1405b1abc18dc98
2
27

Education, technology & the changing times

I was approached by Meducation to become a resident blogger, and was initially surprised by the invitation as - I must explain upfront - I am not a clinician of any type! I'm one of those project managers. So when considering where to begin to write my first blog post I decided to focus on the use of technology in medical education. Then when I began writing my first post I was reminded of the complexities of such a topic! And I realised that this is not something that can be covered in one post. So this is where I thought I would start: Technology is changing our lives at an ever increasing rate, and it is influencing the way we do a range of tasks from the use of technology in the hospital to the use of technology in education, notwithstanding all other aspects of our lives and the way we communicate. We are educating children in schools at the moment who will have careers and jobs that don't even exist at the moment, the rate of change is exponential. But with this consistent churn of information, communication and technological developments, how do you keep up? Where do you start? As a teacher, as a learner. I wanted to concentrate this post on considering some of the challenges which can be encountered when working in medical education. One of the pivotal issues is probably resistance. Resistance has a negative connotation and I use it cautiously. Resistance can be in many forms and can arise for a number of reasons. Technology brings about change, and inherently change can make people nervous. And with change you often encounter resistance; resistance to change, resistance to adapt, resistance to engage - the fear of the unknown. With an ever evolving world, where technology is infiltrating the way we live, work and learn, it is natural that this will influence the way we deliver education, including medical education. Technology is so fast moving it can considerable time to become familiar with new mediums of developing educational resources, by which time often new iterations and new technologies have arrived. However, for those providing subject matter expertise for educational resources it is essential that they under the medium through this will be delivered. And for learners, which we all are, it is important to understand how you learn and how technology can help you do this. With the changes to the NHS and developments in education technology do people find some comfort in being able to both deliver and receive education in a traditional manner? This poses a unique and very interesting challenge to answer for those involved in medical education, in trying to meet the demands of those seeking information and education in new and interesting ways with those who enjoy traditional classroom based education - all from both the point of view of the 'teacher' and the 'learner'. How to we satisfy the appetite of those seeking cutting edge education with the demand for traditional classroom learning? Is it possible to meet the needs of all?  
Megan Buckingham
over 3 years ago
F1ef89dcd631e968a298907c0591d370
2
16

Money-back guarantees

Ironically, it seems the health products with the least evidence are coming with the greatest assurances. A few years ago, a package holiday company advertised guaranteed sunny holidays in Queensland (Australia). The deal went something like this: if it rained on a certain percentage of your holiday days, you received a trip refund. An attractive drawcard indeed, but what the company failed to grasp was that the “Sunshine State” is very often anything but sunny. This is especially so where I live, on the somewhat ironically named Sunshine Coast. We had 200 rainy days last year and well over 2 metres of rain, and that was before big floods in January. Unsurprisingly, the guaranteed sunny holiday offer was short-lived. There are some things that really shouldn’t come with guarantees. The weather is one, health is another. Or so I thought… “Those capsules you started me on last month for my nerve pain didn’t work. I tried them for a couple of weeks, but they didn’t do nothin'.” “Perhaps you’d do better on a higher dose.” “Nah, they made me feel kinda dizzy. I’d prefer to get my money back on these ones an’ try somethin’ different.” “I can try you on something else, but there are no refunds available on the ones you’ve already used, I’m afraid.” “But they cost me over 80 dollars!” “Yes, I explained at the time that they are not subsidised by the government.” “But they didn’t work! If I bought a toaster that didn’t work, I’d take it back and get me money back, no problem.” “Medications are not appliances. They don’t work every time, but that doesn’t mean they’re faulty.” “But what about natural products? I order herbs for me prostate and me heart every month and they come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. You doctors say those things don’t really work so how come the sellers are willing to put their money where their mouths are?” He decided to try a “natural” treatment next, confident of its likely effectiveness thanks to the satisfaction guarantee offered. Last week I had a 38-year-old female requesting a medical certificate stating that her back pain was no better. The reason? She planned to take it to her physiotherapist and request a refund because the treatment hadn’t helped. Like the afflicted patient above, she didn’t accept that health-related products and services weren’t “cure guaranteed”. “My thigh sculptor machine promised visible results in 60 days or my money back. Why aren’t physios held accountable too?” Upon a quick Google search, I found that many “natural health” companies offer money-back guarantees, as do companies peddling skin products and gimmicky home exercise equipment. I even found a site offering guaranteed homeopathic immunisation. Hmmm… In an information-rich, high-tech world, we are becoming less and less tolerant of uncertainty. Society wants perfect, predictable results — now! For all its advances, modern medicine cannot provide this and we don’t pretend otherwise. Ironically, it seems the health products with the least evidence are coming with the greatest assurances. A clever marketing ploy that patients seem to be buying into — literally and figuratively. I think we all need to be reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s famous words: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” We can’t really put guarantees on whether it will rain down on our holidays or on our health, and should retain a healthy scepticism towards those who attempt to do so. This blog post has been adapted from a column first published in Australian Doctor http://www.australiandoctor.com.au/articles/11/0c070a11.asp Dr Genevieve Yates is an Australian GP, medical educator, medico-legal presenter and writer. You can read more of her work at http://genevieveyates.com/  
Dr Genevieve Yates
over 3 years ago
10
8
375

Dementia: A reflection from an Egyptian Perspective

Through different periods of the Egyptian history from Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic, Islamic and Modern Era; Egyptians tend to respect, appreciate and care for elderly. There is also a rich Eastern Christian tradition in respecting and taking care of old people that has continued since the first centuries of Christianity. Churches used to develop retirement homes served by monastic personnel and nurses. Egyptian culture traditionally linked some aspects of mental illnesses to sin, possession of evil, separation from the divine and it is usually associated with stigmatisation for all family members. However, forgetfulness with ageing was normalised. Until now, it seems that the difference between normal ageing and dementia is blurred for some people. Recently, the term 'Alzheimer' became popular, and some people use it as synonymous to forgetfulness. El-Islam, stated that some people erroneously pronounce it as 'Zeheimer' removing the 'Al' assuming it is the Arabic equivalent to the English 'the'. In 2010, a film was produced with the title 'Zeheimer' confirming the mispronunciation. Elderly face many health challenges which affect their quality of life. Dementia is one of these challenges as it is considered to be one of the disorders which attack elderly and affect their memory, mental abilities, independence, decision making and most cognitive functions. Therefore, the focus on dementia has increased around the world due to the rapid spread of the syndrome and the economical and psychosocial burden it cause for patients, families and communities. (Grossber and Kamat 2011, Alzheimer’s Association 2009, Woods et al. 2009). In recent years, the proportion of older people is increasing due to the improvement in health care and scientific development. The demographic transition with ageing of the population is a global phenomenon which may demand international, national, regional and local action. In Egypt the ageing population at the age of 65 and older are less than 5% of the Egyptian population (The World FactBook, 2012), yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that a demographic shift is going to happen as most of the rapid ageing population will transfer to the low and middle income countries in the near future (WHO, 2012). Egyptian statistics assert this shift. The Information Decision Support Center published the first comprehensive study of the elderly in Egypt in 2008. According to the report, in 1986, 5 percent of Egyptians were age 60 and older. In 2015, they will make up to 11 percent of the population and in 2050; over a fifth. Caring of older persons constitutes an increasing segment of the Egyptian labor market. However, nation wide statistics about number of dementia sufferers in Egypt may be unavailable but the previous demographic transition is expected to be accompanied by an increase in dementia patients in Egypt and will affect priorities of health care needs as well. The Egyptian society may need adequate preparation with regards to health insurance, accommodation and care homes for the upcoming ageing population (El-Katatney, 2009). Although the number of care home increased from 29 in 1986 to be around 140 home in 2009; it cannot serve more than 4000 elderly from a total of 5 million. Not every elderly will need a care home but the total numbers of homes around Egypt are serving less than 1% of the elderly population. These facts created a new situation of needs for care homes besides the older people who are requiring non-hospital health care facility for assisted living. The Egyptian traditions used to be strongly associated with the culture of extended family and caring for elderly as a family responsibility. Yet, in recent years changes of the economic conditions and factors as internal and external immigration may have affected negatively on elderly care within family boundaries. There is still the stigma of sending elderly to care homes. Some perceive it as a sign of intolerance of siblings towards their elderly parents but it is generally more accepted nowadays. Therefore, the need for care homes become a demand at this time in Egypt as a replacement of the traditional extended family when many older people nowadays either do not have the choice or the facilities to continue living with their families (El-Katatney 2009). Many families among the Egyptian society seem to have turned from holding back from the idea of transferring to a care home to gradual acceptance since elderly care homes are becoming more accepted than the past and constitutes a new concept of elderly care. Currently, many are thinking to run away from a lonely empty home in search of human company or respite care but numbers of geriatric homes are extremely lower than required and much more are still needed (Abdennour, 2010). Thus, it seems that more care homes may be needed in Egypt. Dementia patients are usually over 65, this is one of the factors that put them at high risk of exposure to different physical conditions related to frailty, old age, and altered cognitive functions. Additionally, around 50% of people with dementia suffers from other comorbidities which affect their health and increases hospital admissions (National Audit Office 2007). Therefore, it is expected that the possibility of doctors and nurses needing to provide care for dementia patients in various care settings is increasing (RCN 2010). Considering previous facts, we have an urgent need in Egypt to start awareness about normal and upnormal ageing and what is the meaning of dementia. Moreover, change of health policies and development of health services is required to be developed to match community needs. Another challenge is the very low number of psychiatric doctors and facilities since the current state of mental health can summarised as; one psychiatrist for every 67000 citizens and one psychiatric hospital bed for every 7000 citizens (Okasha, 2001). Finally the need to develop gerontologically informed assessment tools for dementia screening to be applied particularly in general hospitals (Armstrong and Mitchell 2008) would be very helpful for detecting dementia patients and develop better communication and planning of care for elderly. References: El Katateny, E. 2009. Same old, same old: In 2050, a fifth of Egyptians will be age 60 and older. How will the country accommodate its aging population?. Online available at: http://etharelkatatney.wordpress.com/category/egypt-today/page/3/ Fakhr-El Islam, M. 2008. Arab culture and mental health care. Transcultural Psychiatry, vol. 45, pp. 671-682 Ageing and care of the elderly. Conference of European churches. 2007. [online] available at: http://csc.ceceurope.org/fileadmin/filer/csc/Ethics_Biotechnology/AgeingandCareElderly.pdf World Health Organization. 2012 a. Ageing and life course: ageing Publications. [Online] available at : http://www.who.int/ageing/publications/en/ World Health Organization. 2012 b. Ageing and life course: interesting facts about ageing. [Online] available at: http://www.who.int/ageing/about/facts/en/index.html World Health Organization 2012 c. Dementia a public health priority. [online] available at: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2012/9789241564458_eng.pdf World Health Organization. 2012 d. Why focus on ageing and health, now?. Department of Health. 2009. Living well with dementia: a national dementia strategy. [Online] available at: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_094058 Andrawes, G., O’Brien, L. and Wilkes, L. 2007. Mental illness and Egyptian families. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol.16, pp. 178-187 National Audit Office. 2007. Improving service and support for people with dementia. London. [online[ Available at: http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0607/support_for_people_with_dement.aspx Armstrong, J and Mitchell, E. 2008. Comprehensive nursing assessment in the care of older people. Nursing Older People, vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 36-40. Okasha, A. 2001. Egyptian contribution to the concept of mental health. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal,Vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 377-380. Woods, R., Bruce, E., Edwards, R., Hounsome, B., Keady, J., Moniz-Cook, E., Orrell, M. and Tussell, I. 2009. Reminiscence groups for people with dementia and their family carers: pragmatic eight-centre randomised trial of joint reminiscence and maintenance versus usual treatment: a protocol. Trials Journal: open access, Vol. 10, [online] available at: http://www.trialsjournal.com/content/10/1/64 Grossberg, G. and Kamat, S. 2011. Alzheimer’s: the latest assessment and treatment strategies. Jones and Bartlett, publisher: The United States of America. Alzheimer’s Association. 2009. 2009 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, Volume 5, Issue 3. [online] Available at: http://www.alz.org/news_and_events_2009_facts_figures.asp Royal College of Nursing. 2010. Improving quality of care for people with dementia in general hospitals. London. National Audit Office. 2007. Improving service and support for people with dementia. London. [online[ Available at: http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0607/support_for_people_with_dement.aspx Authors: Miss Amira El Baqary, Nursing Clinical instructor, The British University in Egypt 10009457@qmu.ac.uk Dr Emad Sidhom, MBBCh, ABPsych-Specialist in Old Age Psychiatry-Behman Hospital e.sidhom@behman.com  
Amira El Baqary
over 3 years ago
4a32966b32c790d8f893eefbda71d548
5
51

"So are you enjoying it?"

"When did the pain start Mr Smith?" "Ah so do you enjoy it?" 'It' of course refers to your five year medical degree. Patients can be nice can't they. Often it seems that all patients want to talk about is you. I thought the public didn't like students, aren't students lazy drunks who wake up at midday, squander their government hand-outs on designer clothes, and whose prevailing role in society was to keep the nation's budget baked bean industry in the black? Apparently the same isn't thought of medical students, well maybe it is, but god patients are polite. The thing is I have found these questions difficult; it is surprising how they can catch you off guard. Asking if I am enjoying 'it' after I have woken up at dawn, sat on a bus for 40 minutes, and hunted down a clinician who had no idea I was meant to be there, could lead on to a very awkward consultation. But of course it doesn't "yes it is really good thank you". "Do you take any medications, either from your GP or over the counter?" "Are you training to be a GP then?" Medicine is a fascinating topic and indeed career, which surely human nature makes us all interested in. As individuals lucky enough to be studying it, maybe we forget how intriguing the medical profession is? This paired with patients sat in a small formal environment with someone they don’t know could bring out the polite ‘Michael Parkinson’ in anybody. Isn't this just good manners, taking an interest. Well yes. Just because I can be faintly aloof doesn't mean the rest of the world has to me. But perhaps there is a little more to it, we ask difficult personal questions, sometimes without even knowing it, we all know when taking a sexual history to expect the consultation to be awkward or embarrassing, but people can be apprehensive talking about anything, be it their cardiovascular disease, medications, even their date of birth. We often then go on to an examination: inspecting from the end of the bed, exposing a patient, palpating. Given a bit context you can see why a patient may want to shift the attention back to someone like us for a bit, and come on, the medical student is fair game, the best target, asking the consultant whether they enjoys their job, rather you than me. If we can oblige, and make a patient feel a bit more at ease we should, and it certainly won't be doing our student patient relationship any harm. Hopefully next time my answers will be a bit more forthcoming. "Any change in your bowels, blood in any motions?" "How many years do you have left?" It is a good thing we are all polite.  
Joe de Silva
over 3 years ago
8cfe73df9104072c521f228cd31f884f
3
42

Goodbye fear and ego, hello better patient care

The best doctors in the world still have bad consultation. Sometimes you just start off on the wrong foot. The patient leaving in a floor of tears is usually an indication that this has just occurred. On one of my medical placements I witnessed one such consultation. A young woman in the early stages of her pregnancy had a per vaginal bleed and wanted a scan to see if the pregnancy was still ok. Medically speaking, a scan wasn’t indicated as the pregnancy was too early on to detect any changes. The doctors noted the “agenda” as they later remarked, and was not going to “play the game” and send the young woman for a scan. She was not happy about this. The doctor felt that he couldn’t have done more. Medically there was nothing he could offer to the woman other than advice to go home and wait a little while before repeating a pregnancy test. To me, there was lots that could have been done. This woman was scared and worried and a sympathetic ear and a tissue would have gone some way to making her feel better. The doctor I was with couldn’t see this. They were blind sighted by the repeated requests for a scan and slightly frustrated that the unhelpfulness of this was not being understood. When the young woman began to cry I was waiting for the doctor to hand over a tissue. “Any second now...” I thought, but it never happened. I wanted to give the woman a tissue and put my arm around her but that would have meant physically placing myself between the doctor and the patients and interrupting a consultation I wasn’t really a part of. But the truth is. I was a part of that consultation. I might not have been the doctor in charge but I was another person in that room who could have made that situation easier for that patient and I didn’t. Hours later, on my way home, I was still thinking about this. I felt I had let that woman down. I could see what she needed and I sat there and did nothing. After the consultation I immediately told the doctor what I thought. I felt that the patient had been let down. They took on what I said and mostly agreed with it. All egos were put aside in that frank conversation and the doctor genuinely reflected on how they could have done better in that situation. It wasn’t about me or the doctor. It was about the patient. As a medical student it is easy to feel in the way in the hospital environment or in a busy clinic. When the consultant is running behind, it takes a lot to ask the patients something or butt in and add something you think is relevant that in the end may turn out to be a very trivial thing. But at the end of the day, it is worth it if it means that there is a better out come for the patient because when all is said and done they are the ones we are doing this all for. I regret not handing that patient a tissue and it’s a mistake I hope never to repeat again.  
Salma Aslam
over 3 years ago
24fee468c272d218bce8489d4ed1af8d
4
28

Keep on Truckin’

Shattered. Third consecutive day of on-calls at the birth centre. I’m afraid I have little to show for it. The logbook hangs limply at my side, the pages where my name is printed await signatures; surrogate markers of new found skills. Half asleep I slump against the wall and cast my mind back to the peripheral attachment from which I have not long returned. The old-school consultant’s mutterings are still fresh: “Medical education was different back then you see....you are dealt a tough hand nowadays.” I quite agree, it is Saturday. Might it be said the clinical apprenticeship we know today is a shadow of its former self? Medical school was more a way of life, students lived in the hospital, they even had their laundry done for them. Incredulous, I could scarcely restrain a chuckle at the consultant’s stories of delivering babies while merely a student and how the dishing out of “character building” grillings by their seniors was de rigeur. Seldom am I plied with any such questions. Teaching is a rare commodity at times. Hours on a busy ward can bear little return. Frequently do I hear students barely a rotation into their clinical years, bemoan a woeful lack of attention. All recollection of the starry-eyed second year, romanced by anything remotely clinical, has evaporated like the morning dew. “Make way, make way!...” cries a thin voice from the far reaches of the centre. A squeal of bed wheels. The newly crowned obs & gynae reg drives past the midwife station executing an impressive Tokyo drift into the corridor where I stand. Through the theatre doors opposite me he vanishes. I follow. Major postpartum haemorrhage. A bevy of scrubs flit across the room in a live performance of the RCOG guidelines for obstetric haemorrhage. They resuscitate the women on the table, her clammy body flat across the carmine blotched sheets. ABC, intravenous access and a rapid two litres of Hartmann’s later, the bleeding can not be arrested by rubbing up contraction. Pharmacological measures: syntocinon and ergometrine preparations do not staunch the flow. Blood pressure still falling, I watch the consciousness slowly ebb from the woman’s eyes. Then in a tone of voice, seemingly beyond his years, the reversely gowned anaesthetist clocks my badge and says, “Fetch me the carboprost.” I could feel an exercise in futility sprout as I gave an empty but ingratiating nod. “It’s hemabate....in the fridge” he continues. In the anaesthetic room I find the fridge and rummage blindly through. Thirty seconds later having discovered nothing but my general inadequacy, I crawl back into theatre. I was as good as useless though to my surprise the anaesthetist disappeared and returned with a vial. Handing me both it and a prepped syringe, he instructs me to inject intramuscularly into the woman’s thigh. The most common cause of postpartum haemorrhage is uterine atony. Prostaglandin analogues like carboprost promote coordinated contractions of the body of the pregnant uterus. Constriction of the vessels by myometrial fibres within the uterine walls achieves postpartum haemostasis. This textbook definition does not quite echo my thoughts as I gingerly approach the operating table. Alarmingly I am unaware that aside from the usual side effects of the drug in my syringe; the nausea and vomiting, should the needle stray into a nearby vessel and its contents escape into the circulation, cardiovascular collapse might be the unfortunate result. Suddenly the anaesthetist’s dour expression as I inject now assumes some meaning. What a relief to see the woman’s vitals begin to stabilise. As we wheel her into the recovery bay, the anaesthetist unleashes an onslaught of questions. Keen to redeem some lost pride, I can to varying degrees, resurrect long buried preclinical knowledge: basic pharmacology, transfusion-related complications, the importance of fresh frozen plasma. Although, the final threat of drawing the clotting cascade from memory is a challenge too far. Before long I am already being demonstrated the techniques of regional analgesia, why you should always aspirate before injecting lidocaine and thrust headlong into managing the most common adverse effects of epidurals. To have thought I had been ready to retire home early on this Saturday morning had serendipity not played its part. A little persistence would have been just as effective. It’s the quality so easily overlooked in these apparently austere times of medical education. And not a single logbook signature gained. Oh the shame! This blog post is a reproduction of an article published in the Medical Student Newspaper, February 2014 issue.  
James Wong
over 3 years ago
332131e474bf4ad720c79b564cd3b047
3
118

Top Resources for Medical Essay Writers

All stages of essay writing can be tricky, from the choice of a proper topic to the organization of the paper to the actual writing. Moreover, you also have to edit and proofread the paper in order to make sure it’s clean of all spelling errors and logical gaps. The content has to be free of plagiarism, and all sources you have used need to be properly referenced. When you have all those rules in mind, essay writing can become really confusing. However, there are online resources that can help you through every stage of the process, and we will list some of the most useful ones in the continuation. Help with your topic and thesis The first stage of the process can often be the most troublesome one. However, there are online tools that offer great topic ideas, which you can later turn into thesis statements with the help of thesis generators. Writinghouse is citation generator that will create the needed bibliography entries and in-text citations in your paper. How to write a college application essay – 10 practical ninja tips by Ninja Essays. This simple guide offers practical tips for writing impressive application essays. Paying attention to this advice will relieve you from the stress of college applications. Thesis Generator 1.0 is a great tool for drafting clear thesis statements for argumentative and persuasive essays. In order to get a suggestion for your thesis statement, you will need to enter the topic and main argument of your paper, along with two reasons that support the main argument. Thesis Statement Creator is also requires you to enter all components of the thesis statement, after which you will get a suggestion for a thesis statement that you can directly use into your essay. Understand the types of essays All types of essays have different requirements, so you need guides that will help you understand their principles. Roane State Online Writing Lab provides clear information about various types of essays, as well as samples that will help you get an impression of how great academic writing is done. Writing Detective provides a useful online lesson that will teach you how compare/contrast essays are written, after which you can take a quiz to test your abilities. The organization of your paper Proper essay organization isn’t difficult to achieve, but many students struggle with it. These are the tools that will improve the structure of your papers: Essay Map by ReadWriteThink will help you organize your paper through an interactive guide. From outline… to essay by iCivics is a lesson with side-by-side examples of appropriate organization. Essay Organizer is an app for smartphones, which you can use to go through the detailed steps of essay writing and take notes at any time. Great essays don’t come without proper grammar and syntax! These tools will help you make sure your paper is error-free: PaperRater will not only provide you with suggestions on how you can improve your paper in terms of style and vocabulary, but will also check it for plagiarism. Purdue OWL offers any information about essays you could possibly need. It will teach you about proper grammar and syntax, as well as the general requirements for different types of essays. UNLV Writing Center provides practical tips on essay writing that will teach you how to avoid the most common mistakes. Check the uniqueness of your paper! Professors don’t forgive plagiarism issues, so you better use these tools to make sure your paper is unique before you submit it: PlagTracker is a simple, but very effective tool that provides links to articles and webpages of duplicate content. Viper is another effective plagiarism checker, but this one requires a download. Conclusion Education is an aspect of life that has been particularly transformed due to the remarkable digital changes. Now that you have practical tools within reach, essay writing doesn’t have to be a struggle. Online tools will make this activity less stressful and less time-consuming!  
Robert Morris
over 3 years ago
137901527800f45c480652246bf3504f
5
49

Grand Round: Dos and Don’ts

“To study the phenomena of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.” The words of Sir William Osler, the acclaimed father of modern medicine, are still no less profound. They hark from an age when medicine still retained a sense of ceremony: an amphitheatre filled to the rafters, the clinicians poised in their white coats and ties, all eyes convergent on their quarry or rather the patient seated before them. Any memory of such scenes live out a vestigial existence in black&white photos or histrionic depictions recalling the rise of modern medicine. To think this is how the tradition of grand rounds proceeded in the not so distant past. Today grand rounds have a more tuitional flavour to them. The Socratic dialogue which reportedly took place has been superseded by the much less appetising PowerPoint presentation. It’s a weekly event marked in the calendar. For the ever-busy junior doctor it at least offers the prospect of a free lunch. I gest, they serve a social as well as an educational function. On the other hand medical student grand rounds are purely a learning exercise. They are most importantly not a race to find and present the most ‘interesting’ case in the trust because this is usually interpretted as a vanishingly rare condition, which even your ejudicating consultant has never encountered in a lifetime of experience. It falls short of the primary aim: to learn about the patients who you will be seeing as a junior doctor and as the addage goes - common things are common. What will make your grand round interesting, is not the patient you choose but how you choose to present that patient. Unfortunately, as fair a point Sir Osler makes, the old practice of patient participation in grand rounds has long since faded. You will have to call upon your thespian talents to retell the story to your fellow students. Of course not everyone’s a natural showman, however fortune favours the prepared and in my experience there are only a handful of things to worry about. Structure. This is the back bone of your presentation. Obviously a solid introductory line about the patient with all the salient points goes without saying, it’s no different to presenting to the consultant on ward rounds or in the clinic. Always set the scene. If you clerked your patient on a hectic night oncall down in majors, then say so. It makes the case less one dimensional. The history is your chance to show off - to consider the presenting complaint expressed in the patient’s own words and to form a working differential, which you can encourage your colleagues to reel off at the outset. The quality of the history should guide your audience to the right diagnosis. Equip them with all the information they need, so not just the positive findings. Showing that you have ruled out important red flag symptoms or signs will illustrate good detective work on your part. However you wish to order the relevant past medical/family history, medications, social impact etc is up to you. It’s a subjective thing, you just have to play the game and cater to the consultant’s likes. You can only gage these after a few cases so do the honourable thing and let your colleagues present first. Performance. Never read your slides in front of an audience. Their attention will rapidly wane (especially if they’re postprandial). The slides are an aide-memoire and to treat them as a script is to admit your presence adds nothing more to your presentation. Communicating with the audience requires you to present uncluttered slides, expanding on short headings and obliging your colleagues to listen for the little nuggets of clinical knowledge you have so generously lain in store. Insight. When the consultant asks you the significance of an investigation, always know on what grounds it was ordered and the limitations of the results. The astute student will be aware of its diagnostic or prognostic potential.The same may be said of imaging. Perusing the radiologists report and using it to guide the audience through (anoynmised) CXRs, CTs, US etc is a feather in your cap. Literature reviews of your choosing constitute a mandatory part of the presentation. They are demonstrative of not only your wider reading but your initiative to find the relevant evidence base e.g. the research underlying the management plan of a condition or perhaps its future treatments. Timing. Waffling is only detrimental to the performance. Rehearsing the presentation with a firm mate is a sure way to keep to time constraints. Memorability, for the right reasons, relies on a concise and interactive presentation. A splash of imagination will not go unnoticed. The consultant marking you has seen it all before; surprising titbits of knowledge or amusing quirks in your presentation will hopefully appeal to their curious and humorous side. If anything it might break the tedium grand rounds are renown for. Oratory is a universal skill and is responsible for so much (undue) anxiety. The more timid can take comfort grand rounds aren’t quite the grand occasions they used to be. Illustrator Edward Wong This blog post is a reproduction of an article published in the Medical Student Newspaper, December 2013 issue.  
James Wong
over 3 years ago
9c2acd4690f2a59636fb7944b191e5aa
6
72

'THE F***-IT BUTTON'

It is Julian Bagginis' book, 'The Virtues of the Table: How to Eat and Think', that is fuelling me to write. I am particularly drawn to the chapter 'Willpower and Weight-loss' and would like to dedicate my first blog-entry to the ‘F**** -it-button’; the antithesis of willpower and thus.. weightloss. The ‘F***-it button’ is a useful concept for any -visually minded- [medical] student that in an attempt to lead the perfect [medic] lifestyle of ‘work hard-play hard' (whilst focusing on eating that all-important 'balanced diet' and exercising regularly)... ... ends up ‘working hard but playing harder', finds themselves eating the leftover cake in the nurses’ room (in order to gain that much-needed energy to sit in a clinic), and ditches the gym in favour of Facebook. In sum, the ‘F***-it button’ is that imaginary ‘button’ –definitely red in colour- that is available for any individual to press at any time, BUT is only pressed on occasion, for which there is usually a 'trigger' (an emotion or event that 'forces' you to do it). Once pressed, willpower and self-control are fully deactivated. The individual is free to do as they will. As you can imagine, the ‘F***-it button’ can be applied to anything... However, for me, this button is most often activated when trying to be 'healthy' and lead that balanced lifestyle. In this context, ‘F***-it button' 'initiation’ does not mean the breakfast that when portioning a bowl of cereal, a handful of flakes is ‘allowed’ to reach the mouth before the bowl... We are talking about total and utter blowout. Examples include: Having THE healthiest day EVER- planned to perfection- and then rewarding oneself with a night in a cocktail bar or a ‘few’ beers to celebrate the ‘day of healthiness’. (Usually on a Sunday) Finishing the week’s worth of ‘healthy’ food you stocked up to eat that week, you get a lil bit peckish at about 5p.m, about the time Sainsbury’s closes, and low and behold, you find yourself entering a housemate’s (sorry!) cupboard and demolishing their chocolate biscuits… the ‘walk of shame’ in the form of a ‘replacement trip’ to Sainsbury’s follows the next day, or if Sainsbury’s is open, promptly. That day when you are absolutely ravenous at 10.30am, lunch is too far away but you will not survive the morning… the only option is a chocolate bar or other high calorie snack… lunchtime comes but you are not hungry due to that cheeky snack BUT by mid-afternoon- maybe just as you are about to clerk a patient- you are ravenous, and a trip to the nurse’s room for a cake ‘to keep you going’ is inevitable. In all three cases, by this time you may as well give up completely, throw off all restrictions and eat whatever you like for at least the next week… you will eat everything and anything that comes to your mind, and it will involve numerous visits to the ‘chocolate shop’ (provided the cravings come before 11pm).* The ‘F***-it button’ has been pressed. In a way, I do love the ‘F***-it’ button conception; it allows a period of freedom to indulge, in a mood dependent fashion, in what you want, when you want to. However, it is very much a love-hate relationship.. eating the nurses cake is undoubtedly essential for those times when you need a ‘pick me up’ but regularly doing so leaves you unpopular, with tight trousers and intense feelings of guilt. The ‘hate’ part of the relationship is the reason I want to consider why it is that the‘F- it’ button exists. I have been informed by various ‘dieting’ websites that certain triggers, for example fatigue will trigger certain impulse responses, for example ‘F- it button’. This is a situation most of us can recognize… you really want to lose weight but faced with the temptation of the nurse’s cake on a day you feel tired, your desire for the cake, only needs to overrule your weight-loss resolution for a minute (or so) and all your good intentions are crushed, as the cake finds its way to your mouth. How is it that some of my friends – you know the type (my housemate)- can have one cookie of a packet of fifteen, and the other fourteen remain on their desk (or cupboard for that matter), next to where they are working, in full view, where they can smell, see and think about it, for at least half a year before they decide to have Biscuit Number Two, and ONLY Biscuit Number Two. This I just do not understand. My mind is put at ease- to an extent – by the knowledge gained from my new ‘bible’, ‘that experiments with toddlers show that even at a very young age, some people are able to resist or defer gratification better than others’. I was definitely NOT one of those toddlers… Baggini goes on to say that this matters more than just for weight loss: having good self-control is a very strong predictor of academic career and success… Hmm, I think we will leave it at that. *Chocolate shop as defined as the nearest newsagents or supermarket.  
Catherine Bruce
over 3 years ago
30d901eed32e51272e0239ee8f05a874
1
38

Socks, Kiwis and Surgical Removal

I’m a klutz. Always have been. Probably always will be. I blame my clumsiness on the fact that I didn’t crawl. Apparently I was sitting around one day and toddling on two feet the next. Whatever the cause, it’s a well-tested fact that I’m not good on icy footpaths. Various parts of my anatomy have gotten up close and personal with frozen ground on many an occasion. Not usually an issue for a born-and-bred Australian, except when said Australian goes to visit her Canadian family during the northern winter. During one such visit, I found myself unceremoniously plopped onto slick ice while my two-year-old niece frolicked around me with sure-footed abandon. I thought, “There has to be an easier way.” As freezing water seeped through my jeans, providing a useful cold pack for my screaming coccyx, my memory was jogged. I recalled that a lateral-thinking group of New Zealand researchers had won the Ignoble Prize for Physics for demonstrating that wearing socks on the outsides of shoes reduces the incidence of falls on icy footpaths. To the amusement of my niece, I tried out the theory for myself on the walk home. I don’t know if I had a more secure foothold or not, but I did manage to get blisters from wearing sneakers without socks. I love socks. They cover my large, ungainly clod-hoppers and keep my toes toasty warm almost all year round. You know the song ‘You can leave your hat on.’? Well for me, it is more a case of ‘You can leave your socks on, especially in winter. There’s nothing unromantic about that… is there? I’m not, however, as attached to my socks as a patient I once treated. As an intern doing a psychiatry rotation, one of my tasks was to do physical examinations on all admissions. Being a dot-the-i’s kinda girl, when an old homeless man declined to remove his socks so that I could examine his feet, I didn’t let it slide. “I haven’t taken off my socks for thirty years,” he pronounced. “It can’t be that long. Your socks aren’t thirty years old. In fact, they look quite new,” I countered. “When the old ones wear out, I just slip a new pair over the top.” I didn’t believe him. From his odour, I would have believed that he hadn’t showered in thirty years, but the sock story didn’t add up. He eventually agreed to let me take them off. The top two sock layers weren’t a problem but then I ran into trouble. Black remains of what used to be socks clung firmly to his feet, and my gentle attempts at their removal resulted in screams of agony. I tried soaking his feet. Still no luck. His skin had grown up into the fibres, and it was impossible to extract the old sock remnants without ripping off skin. In retrospect I probably should have left the old man alone, but instead got the psych registrar to have a peek, who then involved the emergency registrar, who called the surgeon and soon enough the patient and his socks were off to theatre. The ‘surgical removal of socks’ was not a commonly performed procedure, and it provided much staff amusement. It wasn’t so funny for Mr. Sock Man, who required several skin grafts! From my perspective here in Canada, while I thoroughly commend the Kiwis for their ground-breaking sock research, I think I’ll stick to the more traditional socks-in-shoes approach, change my socks regularly and work a bit on my coordination skills. References: PHYSICS PRIZE: Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams, and Patricia Priest of the University of Otago, New Zealand, for demonstrating that, on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes. "Preventing Winter Falls: A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Novel Intervention," Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams, and Patricia Priest, New Zealand Medical Journal. vol. 122, no, 1298, July 3, 2009, pp. 31-8. (This blog post has been adapted from a column first published in Australian Doctor http://www.australiandoctor.com.au/articles/58/0c06f058.asp) Dr Genevieve Yates is an Australian GP, medical educator, medico-legal presenter and writer. You can read more of her work at http://genevieveyates.com/  
Dr Genevieve Yates
over 3 years ago
91967c1e534ab7486f3bf00a60d05236
4
187

Gin & Tonic Anyone?

It was a Saturday, about tea-time in the quaint village of Athelstaneford, East Lothian. Mrs Alexandria Agutter sat in her cottage, enjoying the delights of the late-summer evening with a glass of gin and tonic. She listlessly sipped from the rather generous pick-me up, no doubt chewing over the happenings of the day. Blast! The taste was much too bitter to her liking. She stood up. And promptly crumpled to the floor in a dizzied heap. It had not been five minutes when a fiery pain gripped her parched throat and in her frenzied turn she watched the bleary room become draped in a gossamery silk. How Dame Agatha would approve. But this is no crime novel, on that fateful day, 24th August 1994, poor Mrs Agutter immortalised herself in the history books of forensic medicine; she was the victim of a revered toxin and a vintage one it was too. She had unwittingly imbibed a G&T laced with a classic poison of antiquity. A clue from the 21st century: do you recall the first Hunger Games film adaption? Those inviting purple-black berries or as Suzanne Collins coined them ‘Nightlock’; a portmanteau of hemlock and Deadly Nightshade. True to the laters’ real life appearance those onscreen fictional fruits played a recurring cameo role. Deadly Nightshade is a perennial shrub of the family Solanaceae and a relative of the humble potato (a member of the Solanus genus). It is a resident of our native woodland and may be found as far afield as Europe, Africa and Western Asia. The 18th century taxonomist, Carl Linnaeus gave the plant an intriguing name in his great Species Plantarum. The genus Atropa is aptly named after one of the three Greek Fates, Atropos. She is portrayed shearing the thread of a mortal’s life so determining the time and manner of its inevitable end. The Italian species name belladona (beautiful woman) refers to the striking mydriatic effect of the plant on the eye. The name pays homage to Pietro Andre Mattioli, a 16th century physician from Sienna, who was allegedly the first to describe the plant’s use among the Venetian glitterati - ladies of fashion favoured the seductive, doe-eyed look. Belladona is poisonous in its entirety. It was from the plant’s roots in 1831, the German apothecary Heinrich F. G. Mein isolated a white, odourless, crystalline powder: it was (surprise, surprise) atropine. Atropine is a chiral molecule. From its natural plant source it exists as a single stereoisomer L-atropine, which also happens to display a chiral potency 50-100 times that of its D-enantiomer. As with many other anaesthetic agents it is administered as a racemic mixture. How strange that atropine now sits among the anaesthetist’s armamentarium, its action as a competitive antimuscarinic to counter vagal stimulation belies its dark history. It was a favourite of Roman housewives seeking retribution against their less than faithful husbands and a staple of the witch’s potion cupboard. Little wonder how belladona became known as the Devil’s plant. Curiouser still it’s also the antidote for other poisons, most notably the organophosphates or nerve gases. On account of its non-selective antagonism, atropine produces a constellation of effects: the inhibition of salivary, lacrimal and sweat glands occurs at low doses; dry mouth and skin are early markers. Pyrexia is a central effect exacerbated by the inability to sweat. Flushing of the face due to skin vessel vasodilatation. Low parasympathetic tone causes a moderate sinus tachycardia. Vision is blurred as the eye becomes dilated, unresponsive to light and accommodation is impaired. Mental disorientation, agitation and ataxia give the impression of drunkedness or a delirium tremens like syndrome. Visual hallucinations, often of butterflies or silk blowing in the wind, are a late feature. It was then that Mr Agutter, seemingly untroubled by the sight of his wife’s problematic situation, proceeded to leave a message with the local practitioner. How fortunate they were to have the vigilant locum check the answering machine and come round to the Agutter’s lodge accompanied by an ambulance crew. The attending paramedic had the presence of mind to pour the remainder of Mrs Agutter’s beverage into a nearby jam jar, while Mr Agutter handed over what he suspected to be the offending ingredient: the bottle of Indian tonic water. As it soon transpired there were seven other casualties in the surrounding countryside of East Lothian – all involving an encounter with tonic water. In fact by some ironic twist of fate, two of the victims were the wife and son of Dr Geoffry Sharwood-Smith, a consultant aneasthetist. Obviously very familiar with the typical toxidrome of anticholinergic agents, he was quick to suspect atropine poisoning. Although for a man of his position with daily access to a sweetshop of drugs, it was not something to draw attention to. Through no small amount of cunning had the poisoner(s) devised the plan. It was elegant; atropine is very bitter. So much so that it can be detected at concentrations of 100 parts per million (0.001%). Those foolish enough to try the berries of belladonna during walks in the woods are often saved by the berry’s sour taste. They are soon spat out. But the quinine in the tonic water was a worthy disguise. The lethal dose for an adult is approximately 90-130mg, however atropine sensitivity is highy variable. In its salt form, atropine sulfate, it is many times more soluble: >100g can be dissolved in 100ml of water. So 1ml may contain roughly tenfold the lethal dose. There ensued a nationwide scare; 50 000 bottles of Safeway branded Indian tonic water were sacrificed. Only six bottles had been contaminated. They had all been purchased, tops unsealed, from the local Safeway in Hunter’s Tryst. Superficially this looked like the handiwork of a psychopath with a certain distaste for the supermarket brand, and amidst the media furore, it did have some verisimilitude: one of the local papers received a letter from 25 year old, Wayne Smith admitting himself as the sole perpetrator. The forensic scientist, Dr Howard Oakley analysed the contents of the bottles. They all contained a non-lethal dose, 11-74mg/litre of atropine except for the Agutter’s, it contained 103mg/litre. The jam jar holding Mrs Agutter’s drink bore even more sinister results, the atropine concentration was 292mg/L. It would appear Mrs Agutter had in some way outstayed her welcome. But she lived. A miscalculation on the part of the person who had added an extra seasoning of atropine to her drink. According to the numbers she would have had to swallow a can’s worth (330ml) to reach the lethal dose. Thankfully she had taken no more than 50mg. The spotlight suddenly fell on Dr Paul Agutter. He was a lecturer of biochemistry at the nearby University of Napier, which housed a research syndicate specialising in toxicology. CCTV footage had revealed his presence at the Safeway in Hunter’s Tryst and there was eye witness evidence of him having placed bottles onto the shelves. Atropine was also detected by the forensic investigators on a cassete case in his car. Within a matter of two weeks he would be arrested for the attempted murder of his wife. Despite the calculated scheme to delay emergency services and to pass the blame onto a non-existent mass poisoner, he had not accomplished the perfect murder. Was there a motive? Allegedly his best laid plans were for the sake of a mistress, a mature student from Napier. He served seven years of a twelve year sentence. Astonishingly, upon his release from Glenochil prison in 2002, he contacted his then former wife proclaiming his innocence and desire to rejoin her in their Scottish home. A proposition she was not very keen on. Dr Agutter was employed by Manchester University as a lecturer of philosophy and medical ethics. He is currently an associate editor of the online journal Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling. We will never know the true modus operandi as Dr Agutter never confessed to the crime. Perhaps all this story can afford is weak recompense for the brave followers of the Dry January Campaign. Oddly these sort of incidents never appear in their motivational testimonials. Acknowledgements Emsley J. Molecules of Murder. 2008, Cambridge, RSC Publishing, p.46-67. Lee MR. Solanaceae IV: Atropa belladona, deadly nightshade. J R Coll Physicians Edinb. March 2007; 37: 77-84. Illustrator Edward Wong This blog post is a reproduction of an article published in the The Medical Student Newspaper January issue, 2014 http://www.themedicalstudent.co.uk/  
James Wong
over 3 years ago
6cebd2349920660efa30367b7d0d0318
4
51

A taste of someone else's medicine

Choosing a career path is one of the hardest (non-clinical) decisions many doctors will face in their professional lives. With almost 100 specialties and sub-specialties available, settling on any one career can seem pretty daunting, particularly as in the majority of cases the choice will set a path you’re likely to be on for the next 30+ years. But, with only a very small range of these specialties and almost none of the sub-specialties available to undertake as rotations during any one foundation programme, finding out what actually working in different specialties is like can be difficult. It’s likely you’ll have at least identified an area you’re kind of/maybe interested in before starting the foundation programme but, to use a total cliché, you wouldn't buy a car without taking it for a test drive, right? There is good evidence to show that any experience, even if only brief, can be very influential on career choice and this is why all deaneries offer new doctors to undertake a ‘taster week’ at some point during the Foundation Programme. This is usually from 2-5 days, taken as study leave, in a specialty of the doctor’s choosing which they haven’t and won’t work during their foundation programme. Most hospitals will allow doctors to do this at an external hospital or organisation if the desired specialty isn't available locally. Tasters are often organised by the trainee but deaneries are encouraged to provide a list or register of structured taster programmes to its trainees. A timetable split into half-day activities, including time for 1:1 discussion with both consultants and trainees, should be provided or agreed with a supervisor, which gives the doctor as broad an experience of the roles, responsibilities, highlights, challenges and lifestyle of the specialty as possible. This should then give the doctor plenty of food for thought and provide an opportunity for (you guessed it) reflection to confirm or exclude that specialty as a career choice and identify (if the former) what steps they need to take to get there. At the end of the experience the doctor should fill in a feedback form and formally reflect in their portfolio. Taster weeks aren't limited to particular specialties and sub-specialties either; there are plenty of more over-arching opportunities such as experiencing leadership and management roles or getting involved in academia, research or medical education. As long as you can identify and describe what you’ll aim to learn or understand from the experience, almost any taster is possible. So, how do you go about it? Each deanery should have a policy relating to taster weeks, or have an responsible administrator who can provide advice. Talking to your educational supervisor can also be really useful. Considering early on in FY1 which area or specialty you want to explore is important; time runs out scarily quickly and taking time out of rotations needs careful planning and co-ordination to make sure there is enough cover for your day job. You may already know or have identified an appropriate supervisor who will facilitate the experience but if not, your supervisor or administrator will almost certainly be able to point you in the right direction. You’ll never get to experience every possible career path before starting out on one; the specialty or sub-specialty you eventually work in may not even exist yet. But getting an idea of what you’ll definitely consider, or definitely won’t, will give you a better chance of identifying something that will suit you personally and professionally, and, particularly in the more competitive and run-though specialties will give you another example of commitment to specialty. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or look at something really niche – it may give you a taste for something unexpected that you’ll love for life. References: http://www.foundationprogramme.nhs.uk/download.asp?file=Tasters_guidance_2011_final-2.pdf  
Dr Lydia Spurr
over 3 years ago
083e2045d3fa3a7010d9bb7ec2eea4b1
10
62

Music is my medicine

 
Lucas Brammar
over 3 years ago
Ec6a69d8a4bac886085ea4c51b364a56
7
87

The Nosology of Descriptive Psychopathology from a Philosophical Perspective

In the initial interviews with patients who suffer psychotic symptoms, it might be striking that the usage of terminology of descriptive psychopathology lingers on an arbitration of knowledge of 'truth' by using terms like delusions or hallucinations with their definition as false beliefs or false perceptions (Casey & Kelly 2007). These terms can cause annihilation of value to patient's experience, which may pose an initial strain on the egalitarian patient-doctor relationship. In an era, where deference to experts is dead, it might be worthy on agreeing on the effect of these experiences prior to lablelling them. Delusions can not be objectively detected and described, because it evolves and exists within subjective and interpersonal dimensions. Severe psycopathological symptoms share the fact that they are statistically deviant, and thus can be labeled as 'unshared'. Symptoms may be perceived as 'distressing' and they might be 'disabling' to them. The outcome behaviour which may raise concern can be a 'dysfunctional' behaviour (Adams & Sutker 2004). Jaspers considered the lack of understandability of how the patient reached conclusion to be the defining factor of a delusional idea. The notion of defining 'delusion' as false belief was challenged by Jaspers. Sims gives the example of a man who believed his wife was unfaithful to him because the fifth lamp-post alone on the left was unlit. What makes it a delusion is the methodology not the conclusion which may be right (Sims 1991). Some delusions might be mundane in their content, others may not be falsifiable. Dereistic thinking is not based on logic but rather on feelings. It is possible to find ways to evade falsification; an ad hoc hypotheses may also be part of the presentation. Fish stated that delusional elaboration may follow delusion and/or hallucination which may have convergence with the concept of the ad hoc hypothesis. Absence of verification from the patient's side does not lead to deductive falsification (Casey & Kelly 2007). Otherwise, the doctor-patient relationship carry the risk to transform to detective-suspect relationship, where the latter may perceive the need to present evidence of innocence. Mental health professionals are usually encountered by people who suffer to various degrees or make others suffer, and not because of various degrees of conviction. The primary role of the therapist is to be defined as some one who tries to alleviate the sufferings of others rather than correcting their beliefs. Communicating with patients in terms of how functional is their belief rather than it's truth may prove to be more egalitarian and clinically tuned. This may provide some middle ground in communication, without having to put an effort on defining the differences between what is 'true' and what is 'real'. The criterion for demarcation between what is real and what is pathologic may be different in the patient-doctor relationship. The assertion on the clinician's part on the falsity of a belief or experience can have the risk of dogmatism. The statistical deviance of symptoms, their distressing nature, disabling consequences, the resultant dysfunctional behaviour and apparent leap from evidence to conclusion may be a more agreeable surrogate starting points. This might be more in line with essence of medicine or 'ars medicina' (art of healing). Concordance with patients on their suffering may serve as an egalitarian platform prior to naming the symptoms. The term delusion commonly identified as false fixed belief, when used by a psychiatrist, it does not address only a symptom. It rather puts the interviewer in the position of an all knowing judge. After all, a service-user may argue that how come a doctor who never encountered or experienced any of the service-user's aspects of the problem as being persecuted at work and home, as plainly false. Then, does the psychiatrist know the truth. From a service-user point of view what he/she experience is real; which might not necessarily be true. The same applies for people who lead an average life, people who go to work bearing with them their superstitions, beliefs about ghosts, luck, horoscopes, zodiacs, or various revered beliefs. This term has the risk of creating a temporary crack in the mutual sense of equality between the therapist and the service-user. This may be due to the labelling of certain dysfunctional belief as unreal by one side. It has the potential for a subtle change in the relationship to the mental health professional placing himself/herself in the omniscient position and it contrasts with the essence of medical practice where practitioners assume the truth in what the patients say as in the rest of subjective symptoms as headache for example. The subsequent sequel of this is other labels such as 'bizarre delusions' or 'systematised delusions', further add to the deviation of the role of the professional therapist to an investigator in the domain of 'Truth' and architecture of 'Truth'. Furthermore, it might be strenuous to the relationship when the therapist - based on skeptic enquiry - starts explaining such symptoms. For example, if the service-user believes that Martians have abducted him, implanted a device in his brain and sent him/her back to earth, and the response communicated back is the 'delusional'. It could be argued by the service-user that the therapist who had not seen a Martian or a brain device before, labelled the whole story as 'delusion' in a rather perceived dismissive labelling with no intention to check on the existence of Martians or the device. In other words, the healer became the arbiter of truth, where both lack evidence for or against the whole thing; one member in the relationship stepped into power on basis of subjective view of plausibility or lack of thereof. In the case of hallucinations, the clinician labelling the patient's experience as hallucinations can be imposing fundamental dilemma for the patient. For example, if a patient hears a voice that says that everything is unreal apart from the voice, and the clinician says that the voice is the thing that is unreal. Both do not give evidence to their 'truth' apart from their statement. The clinician's existence to the patient's subjective reality is distorted by the multiple realities of the patient, and arguing on basis of mere existence that the 'voice' is the one that is 'false', does not give the patient a clue of the future methodology to discern from both, since percetption is deceived and/or distorted. In this case, another tool of the mind can be employed to address the patient. The same can be applied to a concept like 'over valued ideas', where the clinician decides that this particular idea is 'over valued', or that this 'idea' is 'over valued' in a pathological way. The value put on these ideas or not the patient values but the clinician's evaulation of 'value' and 'pathology'. The cut of point of 'value' and 'over value' seems to be subjective from the clinician's perspective. Also, 'derailment' pauses the notion of expecting a certain direction of talk. The concepts of 'grooming' and 'eye contact' implicitly entail the reference to a socio-cultural normative values. Thus, deviation from the normative value is reflected to the patient as pathology, which is an ambiguous definition, in comparison to the clarity of pathology. The usage of terms like 'dysfunctional unshared belief' or 'distressing auditory perception' or other related terms that address the secondary effect of a pathologic experience may be helpful to engage with the patient, and may be more logically plausible and philosophically coherent yet require empirical validation of beneficence. Taylor and Vaidya mention that it is often helpful to normalise, but this is not to minimise or be dismissive of patient's delusional beliefs.(Taylor & Vaidya 2009). The concept can be extended to cover other terms such as 'autistic thinking, 'apathy', 'blunting of affect', 'poor grooming', 'over-valued ideas', other terms can be applied to communicate these terms with service-users with minimal deviation from the therapeutic relationship. The limitation of these terms in communication of psychopathology are special circumstances as folie a deux, where a dysfunctional belief seems to be shared with others Also, symptoms such as Charles-Bonnet syndrome; usually does not have negative consequences. The proposed terms are not intended for use as a replacement to well carved descriptive psychopathological terms. Terms like 'delusion' or 'hallucination' are of value in teaching psychopathology. However in practice, meaningful egalitarian communication may require some skill in selecting suitable terms that is more than simplifying jargon. They also may carry the burden of having to add to the psychiatric terminology with subsequent effort in learning them. They can also be viewed as 'euphemism' or 'tautology'. However, this has been the case from 'hysteria' to 'medically unexplained symptoms' which seems to match with the zeitgeist of an era where 'Evidence Based Medicine' is its mantra; regardless advances in treatment. Accuracy of terminology might be necessary to match with essence of scientific enquiry; systematic observation and accurate taxonomy. The author does not expect that such proposal would be an easy answer to difficulties in communication during practice. This article may open a discussion on the most effective and appropriate terms that can be used while communicating with patients. Also, it might be more in-line with an egalitarian approach to seek to the opinion of service-users and professional bodies that represent the opinions of service-users. Empirical validation and subjection of the concept to testing is necessary. Patient's care should not be based on logic alone but rather on evidence. Despite the limitations of such proposal with regards to completeness, it's hoped that the introduction of any term may help to add to the main purpose of any classification or labelling that is accurate egalitarian communication. DISCLAIMER This blog is adapted from BMJ doc2doc clinical blogs Philosophical Streamlining of Psychopathology and its Clinical Implications http://doc2doc.bmj.com/blogs/clinicalblog/_philosophical-streamlining-of-psychopathology-its-clinical-implications The blog is based on an article named 'Towards a More Egalitarian Approach to Communicating Psychopathology' which is published in the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, 2013 http://www.jemh.ca/issues/v8/documents/JEMHVol8Insight_TowardsaMoreEgalitarianApproachtoCommunicatingPsychopathology.pdf Bibliography Adams, H. E., Sutker P.B. (2004). Comprehensive Handbook of Psychopathology. New York: Springer Science Casey, P., Kelly B., (2007). Fish's Clinical Psychopathology: Signs and Symptoms in Psychiatry, Glasgow: Bell & Bain Limited Kingdon and Turkington (2002), The case study guide to congitive behavior therapy for psychosis, Wiley Kiran C. and Chaudhury S. (2009). Understanding delusion, Indian Journal of Psychiatry Maddux and Winstead (2005). Psychopathology foundations for a contemporary understanding, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. Popper (2005) The logic of scientific discovery, Routledge, United Kingdom Sidhom, E. (2013) Towards a More Egalitarian Approach to Communicating Psychopathology, JEMH · 2013· 8 | 1 © 2013 Journal of Ethics in Mental Health (ISSN: 1916-2405) Sims A., Symptoms in the mind, (1991) an introduction to psychopathology, Baillere Tindall Taylor and Vaidya (2009), Descriptive psychopathology, the signs and symptoms of behavioral disorders, Cambridge university press  
Dr Emad Sidhom
over 3 years ago
3216324b59de74a917170d994ee88bfa
6
113

Male Postnatal Depression - a sign of equality or a load of nonsense?

Storylines on popular TV dramas are a great way of raising the public's awareness of a disease. They're almost as effective as a celebrity contracting an illness. For example, when Wiggles member Greg Page quit the group because of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, I had a spate of patients, mostly young and female, coming in with self-diagnosed "Wiggles Disease". A 30% increase in the number of mammograms in the under-40s was attributed to Kylie Minogue's breast cancer diagnosis. The list goes on. Thanks to a storyline on the TV drama Desperate Housewives, I received questions about male postnatal depression from local housewives desperate for information: "Does it really exist?" "I thought postnatal depression was to do with hormones, so how can males get it?" "First it's male menopause, now it's male postnatal depression. Why can't they keep their grubby mitts off our conditions?" "It's like that politically correct crap about a 'couple' being pregnant. 'We' weren't pregnant, 'I' was. His contribution was five seconds of ecstasy and I was landed with nine months of morning sickness, tiredness, stretch marks and sore boobs!" One of my patients, a retired hospital matron now in her 90s, had quite a few words to say on the subject. "Male postnatal depression -- what rot! The women's liberation movement started insisting on equality and now the men are getting their revenge. You know, dear, it all began going downhill for women when they started letting fathers into the labour wards. How can a man look at his wife in the same way if he has seen a blood-and-muck-covered baby come out of her … you know? Men don't really want to be there. They just think they should -- it's a modern expectation. Poor things have no real choice." Before I had the chance to express my paucity of empathy she continued to pontificate. "Modern women just don't understand men. They are going about it the wrong way. Take young couples who live with each other out of wedlock and share all kind of intimacies. I'm not talking about sex; no, things more intimate than that, like bathroom activities, make-up removal, shaving, and so on." Her voice dropped to a horrified whisper. "And I'm told that some young women don't even shut the door when they're toileting. No wonder they can't get their de facto boyfriends to marry them. Foolish girls. Men need some mystery. Even when you're married, toileting should definitely be kept private." I have mixed feelings about male postnatal depression. I have no doubt that males can develop depression after the arrival of a newborn into the household; however, labelling it "postnatal depression" doesn't sit all that comfortably with me. I'm all for equality, but the simple fact of the matter is that males and females are biologically different, especially in the reproductive arena, and no amount of political correctness or male sharing-and-caring can alter that. Depressed fathers need to be identified, supported and treated, that goes without saying, but how about we leave the "postnatal" tag to the ladies? As one of my female patients said: "We are the ones who go through the 'natal'. When the boys start giving birth, then they can be prenatal, postnatal or any kind of natal they want!" (This blog post has been adapted from a column first published in Australian Doctor http://bit.ly/1aKdvMM)  
Dr Genevieve Yates
over 3 years ago
B7529db325b26dad1d7cbf7b580a6d45
13
961

How to Write a Resume: Tips for Medical Students

It is understandable why resume writing is daunting for most students – they haven’t achieved many significant things at such young age and they have difficulties to present usual things as something extraordinary. However, you shouldn’t give up on your efforts, because you will be surprised by all things your potential employers consider valuable. All you have to do is find the right way to demonstrate your achievements and relate them to the job you are applying for. The following tips will help you write a great resume that will represent you as an ideal candidate for every employer. 1. Start the process by listing your experiences. You cannot tackle the challenge right where it gets most difficult, so you should gradually work your way towards the precise professional language. Start with brainstorming and create a list of all experiences you consider significant. You can draw experiences from all life aspects, such as school, academic activities, internships, prior employments, community service, sports, and whatever else you consider important. Look at that list and distinguish the most motivating experiences that led you to the point where you currently are. 2. Target the resume towards the job. Sending the same generic resume to all potential employers is a common mistake students do. You should tailor a custom-written resume for each job application, representing experiences and skills that will be relevant for the position you’re applying for. 3. Present yourself as a dynamic person. Find the most active components of your experiences and present them in the resume. Focus on action verbs, because they are attention-grabbing and make powerful statements (trained, evaluated, taught, researched, organized, led, oriented, calculated, interviewed, wrote, and so on). 4. Mark the most notable elements of your experiences and use them to start your descriptions. An employer couldn’t care less about the mundane aspects of college or internships, so feel free to leave them out and highlight your persona as a professional who would be a great choice for an employee. 5. Show what you can do for the organization. Employers are only looking for candidates who can contribute towards the growth of their companies, so make sure to portray yourself as someone who can accomplish great things in the role you are applying for. You can do this by reviewing your experiences and highlighting any success you achieved, no matter how small it is. 6. Don’t forget that your most important job at the moment is being a student. While you’re a student, that’s the most important aspect of your life and you should forget to mention that you are an engaged learner in your resume. Include the high GPA and the achievements in your major as important information in your resume. 7. Describe the most important academic projects. At this stage of life, you don’t have many professional experiences to brag about, but your academic projects can also be included in your resume because they show your collaborative, critical thinking, research, writing, and presentation skills. 8. Present yourself as a leader. If you were ever engaged as a leader in a project, make sure to include the information about recruiting and organizing your peers, as well as training, leading, and motivating them. 9. Include information about community service. If all students knew that employers appreciate community service as an activity that shows that the person has matured and cares for the society, they wouldn’t underestimate it so much. Make sure to include information about your activities as a volunteer – your potential employers will definitely appreciate it. 10. Review before you submit! Your resume will require some serious reviewing before you can send it safely to employers. This isn’t the place where you can allow spelling and grammatical errors to slip through. The best advice would be to hire a professional editor to bring this important document to perfection. One of the most important things to remember is that writing a great resume requires a lot of time and devotion. Make sure to follow the above-listed steps, and you will make the entire process less daunting.  
Robert Morris
over 3 years ago
459d43a90d590708ca5f65a66f5ff594
5
151

Probiotics - There's a New Superhero in Town!

When you think of the term 'bacteria', it immediately conjures up an image of a faceless, ruthless enemy-one that requires your poor body to maintain constant vigilance, fighting the good fight forever and always. And should you happen to lose the battle, well, the after effects are always messy. But what some people might not know is that bacteria are our silent saviours as well. These 'good' bacteria are known as probiotics, where 'pro' means 'for' and 'bios' is 'life'. The WHO defines probiotics as "live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health bene?t on the host". Discovered by the Russian scientist Metchnikoff in the 20th century; simply put, probiotics are micro-organisms such as bacteria or yeast, which improve the health of an individual. Our bodies contain more than 500 different species of bacteria which serve to maintain our health by keeping harmful pathogens in check, supporting the immune system and helping in digestion and absorption of nutrients. From the very first breath you take, you are exposed to probiotics. How so? As an infant passes through it's mother's birth canal, it receives a good dose of healthy bacteria, which in turn serve to populate it's own gastro-intestinal tract. However, unfortunately, as we go through life, our exposure to overly processed foods, anti-bacterial products, sterilized and pasteurized food etc, might mean that in our zeal to have everything sanitary and hygienic, we might be depriving ourselves of the beneficial effects of such microorganisms. For any health care provider, the focus should not only be on eradicating disease but improving overall health as well. Here, probiotic containing foods and supplements play an important role as they not only combat diseases but also confer better health in general. Self dosing yourself with bacteria might sound a little bizarre at first-after all, we take antibiotics to fight bacteria. But let's not forget that long before probiotics became a viable medical option, our grandparents (and their parents before them) advocated the intake of yoghurt drinks (lassi). The fermented milk acts as an instant probiotic delivery system to the body! Although they are still being studied, probiotics may help several specific illnesses, studies show. They have proven useful in treating childhood diarrheas as well as antibiotic associated diarrhea. Clinical trial results are mixed, but several small studies suggest that certain probiotics may help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis and prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease and the recurrence of pouchitis (a complication of surgery during treatment of ulcerative colitis). They may also help to maintain a healthy urogenital system, preventing problems such as vaginitis and UTIs. Like all things, probiotics may have their disadvantages too. They are considered dangerous for people with impaired immune systems and one must take care to ensure that the correct strain of bacteria related to their required health benefit is present in such supplements. But when all is said and done and all the pros and cons of probiotics are weighed; stand back ladies and gentlemen, there's a new superhero in town, and what's more-it's here to stay!  
Huda Qadir
over 3 years ago

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