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over 7 years ago
Jerome R Hoffman and Hemal K Kanzaria argue that efforts to reduce overdiagnosis and overtreatment should focus on changing professional and public attitudes towards medical error and uncertainty
about 7 years ago
“Overdiagnosis of the well and undertreatment of the sick are the conjoint twins of modern medicine.” So writes Iona Heath in an essay this week (doi:10.1136/bmj.g6123). She articulates the fears that drive medical excess: our existential fear of dying, and the ever present fear that a serious diagnosis will be missed. While striving for accurate diagnoses and appropriate treatment, Heath says that clinicians and patients need to acknowledge the limits of medicine and embrace the uncertainty that lies beyond. “Only because we do not understand everything and because we cannot control the future is it possible to live,” she says.
about 7 years ago
Stream NKT-associated hedgehog and osteopontin drive fibrogenesis in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by BMJ talk medicine from desktop or your mobile device
almost 7 years ago
Hello Community, I have been wondering how new technologies in mobile health can revolutionize our european healthcare systems and what incentives governments and large organizations need to drive mobile health technology solutions to make a difference. I also had the pleasure to be CEO of a mobile health technology startup called Comoray AB, over the past year, in Sweden. Now, in the process to start something new (possibly in the field of mobile driven Electronic Medical Record / Electronic Health Record systems). I would like to get some feedback from communities and student how YOU consider the current healthcare system changing.
about 9 years ago
It has been suggested that clinicians are occasionally hesitant and even fearful when prescribing oxygen for the CO2-retaining COPD patient because of concerns over increasing hypercapnia. We have been taught that prescribing oxygen does more good than harm if a patient is clearly distressed and should not be denied to any COPD patient in the ED, as only ~5% rely on hypoxic drive to ventilate. How can we recognise the patients who actually rely on hypoxic drive?
about 9 years ago
Does the NHS really need saving? Your first question may be ‘does the NHS really need saving?’, and I would have to answer with an emphatic ‘Yes’. April this year sees the official start of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the key component of The Health and Social Care Act, one of the biggest changes the NHS has seen. Amongst other things these organisations are tasked with saving the NHS £20 billion in the next 3 years by means of ‘efficiency changes’, despite the Institute of Fiscal Studies saying that the NHS needs to be spending £20 billion more each year by 2020. A daunting task but even more so in the light of the recently published Francis Report, where failings at Stafford Hospital have highlighted the need for compassionate patient care to be at the centre of all decisions. All of this has to be achieved in the largest publically funded health service in the world, which employs 1.7 million staff and serves more than 62 million people, with an annual budget of £106 billion (2011/12). So is it the solution? Clearly technology cannot be the only solution to this problem but I believe technology is pivotal in achieving the ‘efficiency changes’ desired. This might be direct use of technology to improve efficiency or may indirectly provide the intelligence that can drive non-technology based efficiencies; and if technology can be used to save clinicians time this can be reinvested into improving patient care. The NHS already has or is working on a number of national scale IT projects that could bring efficiency savings such as choose and book, electronic prescription service and map of medicine to name but a few. Newer and more localised projects include telehealth, clinical decision tools, remote working, the use of social media and real time patient data analysis. Yet many of these ideas, though new to the NHS, have been employed in business for many years. The NHS needs to catch up and then to further innovate. We need clinicians, managers and IT developers to work together if we are to be successful. Such change is not without its challenges and the size and complexity of the NHS makes implementation of change difficult. Patient safety and confidentiality has to be paramount but these create practical and technical barriers to development. I have just completed Connecting for Health’s Clinical Safety Training and there are some formidable hurdles to development and implementation of new IT systems in the NHS (ISB0129 and ISB0160). Procurement in the NHS is a beast of its own that I wouldn’t claim to understand but the processes are complex potentially making it difficult for small developers. The necessity of financial savings means the best solutions are not always chosen, even though that can be false economy in the long run. Yet we must not let these barriers stop us from seeking to employ technology for the good of clinicians and patients. We must not let them stifle innovation or be frustrated by what can be a slow process at times. The NHS recognises some of these issues and is working to try to help small businesses negotiate these obstacles. I hope in a series of posts in coming months to look in more detail at some of the technologies currently being used in the NHS, as well as emerging projects, and the opportunities and problems that surround them. I may stray occasionally into statistics or politics if you can cope with that! I am a practicing clinician with fingers in many pies so the frequency of my postings is likely to be inversely proportional to the workload I face! Comments are always welcome but I may not always reply in a timely manner.
Dr Damian Williams
almost 9 years ago
I started medical school in 2007 wanting to 'making people better'. I stopped medical school in 2010 facing the reality of not being able to get better myself, being ill and later to be diagnosed with several long term health conditions. This post is about my transition from being a medical student, to the other side - being a patient. There are many things I wish I knew about long-term health conditions and patients when I was a medical student. I hope that through this post, current medical students can become aware of some of theses things and put them into practice as doctors themselves. I went to medical school because I wanted to help people and make them better. I admired doctors up on their pedestals for their knowledge and skills and expertise to 'fix things'. The hardest thing for me was accepting that doctors can't always make people better - they couldn't make me better. Holding doctors so highly meant it was very difficult for me to accept their limitations when it came to incurable long-term conditions and then to accept that as a patient I had capacity myself to help my conditions and situation. Having studied medicine at a very academic university, I had a very strict perception of knowledge. Knowledge was hard and fast medical facts that were taught in a formal setting. I worked all day and night learning the anatomical names for all the muscles in the eye, the cranial nerves and citric acid cycle, not to mention the pharmacology in second year. Being immersed in that academic scientific environment, I correlated expertise with PhDs and papers. It was a real challenge to realise that knowledge doesn't always have to be acquired through a formal educational but that it can be acquired through experience. Importantly, knowledge acquired through experience is equally valid! This means the knowledge my clinicians have developed through studying and working is as valid as my knowledge of my conditions, symptoms and triggers, developed through experiencing it day in day out. I used to feel cross about 'expert patients' - I have spent all these hours in a library learning the biochemistry and pharmacology and 'Joe Bloggs' walks in and knows it all! That wasn't the right attitude, and wasn't fair on patients. As an expert patient myself now, I have come to understood that we are experts through different means, and in different fields. My clinicians remain experts in the biological aspects on disease, but that's not the full picture. I am an expert in the psychological and social impact of my conditions. All aspects need to be taken into account if I am going to have holistic integrated care - the biopsychosocial model in practice - and that's where shared-decision making comes in. The other concept which is has been shattered since making the transition from medical student to patient is that of routine. In my first rotation, orthopaedics and rheumatology, I lost track within the first week of how many outpatient appointments I sat in on. I didn't really think anything of them - they are just another 15 minute slot of time filled with learning in a very busy day. As a patient, my perspective couldn't be more different. I have one appointment with my consultant a year, and spend weeks planning and preparing, then a month recovering emotionally. Earlier this year I wrote a whole post just about this - The Anatomy of an Appointment. Appointments are routine for you - they are not for us! The concept of routine applies to symptoms too. After my first relapse, I had an emergency appointment with my consultant, and presented with very blurred vision and almost total loss of movement in my hands. That very fact I had requested an urgent appointment suggest how worried I was. My consultants response in the appointment was "there is nothing alarming about your symptoms". I fully appreciate that my symptoms may not have meant I was going to drop dead there and then, and that in comparison to his patients in ICU, I was not as serious. But loosing vision and all use of ones hands at the age of 23 (or any age for that matter) is alarming in my books! I guess he was trying to reassure me, but it didn't come across like that! I have a Chiari malformation (in addition to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Elhers-Danlos Syndrome) and have been referred to a neurosurgeon to discuss the possibility of neurosurgery. It is stating the obvious to say that for a neurosurgeon, brain surgery is routine - it's their job! For me, the prospect of even being referred to a neurosurgeon was terrifying, before I even got to the stage of discussing the operation. It is not a routine experience at all! At the moment, surgery is not needed (phew!) but the initial experience of this contact with neurosurgeons illustrates the concept of routines and how much our perspectives differ. As someone with three quite rare and complex conditions, I am invariable met in A&E with comments like "you are so interesting!". I remember sitting in the hospital cafeteria at lunch as a student and literally feasting on the 'fascinating' cases we had seen on upstairs on the wards that morning. "oh you must go and see that really interesting patient with X, Y and Z!" I am so thankful that you all find medicine so interesting - you need that passion and fascination to help you with the ongoing learning and drive to be a doctor. I found it fascinating too! But I no longer find neurology that interesting - it is too close to home. Nothing is "interesting" if you live with it day in day out. No matter what funky things my autonomic nervous may be doing, there is nothing interesting or fascinating about temporary paralysis, headaches and the day to day grind of my symptoms. This post was inspired by NHS Change Day (13th March 2013) - as a patient, I wanted to share these few things with medical students, what I wish I knew when I was where you are now, to help the next generation of doctors become the very best doctors they can. I wish you all the very best for the rest of your studies, and thank you very much for reading! Anya de Iongh www.thepatientpatient2011.blogspot.co.uk @anyadei
Anya de Iongh
over 8 years ago
1. Sleep (I realize I’m posting this at 12:30 am…) (http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleep_tips.htm) I know there’s a popular perception of sleep deprivation going hand in hand with working hard or succeeding academically. However, that is only true if you’re working very last minute, and don’t care about retaining the information–you basically just want to get through your upcoming test/assignment. I would like to clarify that, although learning about 10 months of material in 2 weeks is overwhelming, it is NOT last minute because whatever you’re working on right now, you’ll have to remember in 2 weeks for your exam. Besides the exam, if you’re studying medicine, you need to remember most of these things for the rest of your life. In order to retain that information, you need to stay alert, well rested and motivated. Prolonged sleep deprivation can make you feel very ‘CBA’ very fast. 2. Stay Energized Sleep is only one factor in staying motivated and alert; another is staying energized¬–in a healthy way. Simply put: if you feel well, you’ll work well. Eat well: difficult, I know, when you’ve got so little time to spare; but as much as you can, try to eat more whole foods (aka things that don’t come in wrappers or have their own commercial) and keep a balanced diet (too much of anything is usually not good). Everyone snacks while they’re doing exams, but try to find a vice that won’t put you in a sugar coma (some good examples include berries and other fruits, nuts, carrots with hummus to dip in, granola bars, etc). Note: drinking tea is also an excellent way to stay energized! Stay active: Again, I know something like this is difficult to keep up in normal everyday life, let alone during exam stress. Even if it is just for 15-20 minutes, some cardio (note: the more strenuous the workout in a short period of time, the more benefit you’ll get) is a fantastic ‘eye-opener’ (I learned that phrase while learning how to take an alcohol history and now I really like it)! No one wants to go for a run in the morning, but after you get past the first 2-3 minutes of wanting to collapse, your body starts to feel really grateful. This is the BEST way to stimulate your senses and wake yourself up. I promise it’s better than any energy drink or cup of coffee you could have. Take small breaks: SMALL breaks!!! About 10 minutes. Every once in a while, you need to get up and walk around to give yourself a break, have some fresh air, grab a snack, but try not to get carried away; try to avoid having a short attention span. 3. Make Lists I cannot stress enough how counterproductive it is to overwhelm yourself with the amount of work you have. Whether you think about it or not, that pile is not going anywhere. Thinking about it won’t wish it away. Stop psyching yourself out and just get on with it– step by step. Making a list of objectives you need to accomplish that day or week is a great way to start; then, cross them out as you go along (such a satisfying feeling). Being able to visualize your progress will be a great motivator. Remember: it is important to be systematic with your studying approach; if you jump around between modules because they’re boring you’re just going to confuse yourself and make it hard to remember things when that exam comes Note: I have a white board in my room where I write my objectives for the week. Some days it motivates, some days it I want to throw it out the window (but I can't reach the latch)… 4. Practice Questions Practice questions are excellent for monitoring your progress; they’re also excellent at scaring you. Do not fear! This is a good thing, because now you know what you’re missing, go back and read up on what you forgot to take a look at, and come back and do the questions later. Then give yourself a sticker for getting it right ? Practice questions are also great for last minute studying too because they can help you do what I call “backwards studying”–which is what I just described: figuring out what you need to learn based on what the questions look like. 5. Be realistic Set realistic goals for yourself; most importantly, set realistic daily goals for yourself so that when you get all or most or even some of them done you can go to sleep with a level of satisfaction. Also, you need to pick your battles. Example: if you suck at neuro, then one module’s loss is another’s gain. Don’t spend too much time trying to get through one thing, just keep moving forward, and come back to it later 6. ‘Do not disturb’ Facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube, whatsapp, texting, pinterest, meme websites, so many fantastic ways to kill your time… Do yourself a favor, save them for your breaks. If someone is dying or on fire, they will most likely call you, not text you or write on your wall; you do not need to check your phone that often unless you're expecting something time sensitive. 7.Don’t Compare Everyone studying in your program is going to be stressed about things; do NOT let it rub off on you. You know those moments when you hear a peer or a prof/tutor describing something you have never even heard of, then you start panicking? Yeah, don’t do that. It happens to everyone. Instead of worrying so much, just go read about it! Simple solution right? What else are you going to do? Plus, a lot of the time other students seem to know more than they need to about certain things (which I can tell you right now, doesn’t always mean they’re doing better than you; knowing random, very specific factoids doesn’t mean they can bring it in clinic. Everyone can pull a Hermione and know a book inside out, but this is not necessarily the hallmark of a good doctor), what’s it to you? Worry about yourself, be confident in your abilities, and don’t trouble yourself with comparing to other people 8.Practice for Practicals Everyone is afraid of practical exams, like the OSCE (at any rest station you're likely to find me with my head in my hands trying to stabilize my breathing pattern and trying not to cry). The best way to be ready is to practice and practice and practice and practice. It’s like learning to drive a car. At first you’re too aware of your foot on the gas, the position of your hand on the wheel, etc; but, after driving for a little while, these things become subconscious. In the same way, when you walk into a station, you could be so worried about how you’ll do your introduction and gain consent, and remembering to wash your hands, and getting equipment and and and and and; the anxiety affects your confidence and your competence. If you practice enough, then no matter what they throw at you, you will get most of the points because the process will be second nature to you. Practice on your roommates, friends, family members, patients with a doctor's help...when appropriate... Even your stuffed animals if you're really desperate. DO NOT leave practicing for these practicals to the last minute; and if you do, make sure you go through every thing over and over again until you’re explaining examinations in your sleep. NOTE: When I'm practicing for OSCE alone, I record myself over and over again and play it back to myself and criticize it, and then practice againn. 9.Consistency You don’t necessarily have to study in the same place every day; however, it is always good to have some level of routine. Some examples include: waking up/sleeping at the same time everyday, going for a run at the same time every day, having the same study routine, etc. Repetition is a good way to keep your brain focused on new activities because, like I said before, the more you repeat things, the more they become second nature to you. Hope these tips are of some use to you; if not, feel free to sound off in the comments some alternate ways to get through exams. Remember that while exams are stressful, this is the time where you build your character and find out what you’re truly capable of. When you drop your pen after that final exam, you want to feel satisfied and relieved, not regretful. Happy Studying ?
over 8 years ago
Introduction to Obesity One of my favourite past-times is to sit in a bar, restaurant, café or coffee shop and people watch. I am sure many of you reading this also enjoying doing this too. People are fascinating and it is intriguing to observe: what they do; how they act; what they wear and what they look like. My family and I have always observed those around us and discussed interesting points about others that we have noticed. When I first came up to visit Birmingham University my family all sat in a coffee shop in the centre of Birmingham and noticed that on average the people walking past us looked much slimmer than what we were used to seeing back in south Wales. Now, when I go home it is more painfully obvious than ever that the people in my home region are much, much heavier than they should be and are noticeably bigger than they used to be even a short number of years ago. This change in the population around me is what first made me seriously think about obesity, as a major problem affecting the world today. Nowadays obesity is all around us! It is noticeable, it is spreading and it should worry us all. Not just for our own individual health but also for the health of our society. Obesity affects everything from the social dynamic of families, to relationships at school or work, to how much the NHS costs to run. Obesity is a massive problem and if we as a society don’t start getting to grips with it, then it will have huge implications for all of us! I am currently in my 5th year at medical school. While I have been here I have taken a keen interest in obesity. The physiology, the psychology, the anatomy, the statistics and the wider affects on society of obesity have all been covered in curriculum lectures and extra curriculum lectures. I have taken part in additional modules on these subjects and sort out many experts in this field while on hospital placements. Obesity is fascinating for some many reasons and I thought that it would be a great topic to write some blogs about and hopefully start some discussions. Warning For my first blog on the topic of obesity I quickly want to write a bit about myself and my battle with weight. Everyone’s favourite topic is themselves, but I like to think that’s not why I have written this and I hope it doesn’t come across as a narcissistic ramble. I don’t intend to try and make myself come off well or suggest that I have all the answers (because I know very well that I don’t) and I hope it doesn’t come across like that. I want to write a bit of an autobiography because I wish to demonstrate how easy it is to go from a chunky kid to a technically obese teenager to a relatively fat adult without really realising what was happening. Chunky Child to Fat adult While planning this blog I realised that my Meducation profile picture was taken when I was at my all time fattest. At the graduation ceremony at the end of my 3rd year at university after completing my intercalation I was over 19 stones. At 6 foot 2” this gave me a BMI of >33 which is clinically obese. I had a neck circumference of >18”, a chest circumference of 48”, a waist of >40”, a seat of >52” and a thigh circumference of >28” per leg. Why do I know all of these rather obscure measurements? Partly because I am quite obsessive but mainly because I had to go to buy a tailor made suit because I could no longer buy a suit from a shop that I could fit into and still be able to move in. The only options left to me where massive black tent-suits or to go to a tailors. After the graduation I sat down at my computer (whilst eating a block of cheese) and compared my face from the graduation photos to pictures I had taken at the start of university and the difference in shape and size was amazingly obvious. I had got fat! I realised that if I had a patient who was my age and looked like me with my measurements then I would tell him to lose weight for the good of his health. So, I decided that finally enough was enough and I that I should do something about it. Before I describe how I got on with the weight management I will quickly tell the back story of how I came to be this size. I have always been a big guy. I come from a big family. I have big bones. I had “puppy fat”. I was surrounded by people who ate too much, ate rubbish and were over weight themselves, so I didn’t always feel that there was anything wrong with carrying a bit of tub around the middle. When I went to comprehensive school at age 12 I had a 36” waist. I thought I carried the weight quite well because I was always tall and had big ribs I could sort of hide the soft belly. Soon after arriving at the new school I had put on more weight and for the first time in my life I started to get bullied for being fat! And I didn’t like it. It made me really self-aware and knocked my confidence. Luckily, we started being taught rugby in PE lessons and I soon found that being bigger, heavier and stronger than everyone else was a massive advantage. I soon got my own back on the bullies… there is nowhere to hide on a rugby field! This helped me gain my confidence and I realised that the only way to stop the bullying was to confront the bullies and to remake myself in such a way as that they would be unable to bully me. I decided to take up rugby and to start getting fit. I joined a local club, starting playing regularly, joined a gym and was soon looking less tubby. Reflecting (good medical jargon, check) on my life now I can see that my PE teachers saved me. By getting me hooked on rugby they helped get me into many other sports and physical activity in general and without their initial support I think my life would have gone very differently. Rugby was my saviour and also later on a bit of a curse. As I grew up I got bigger and bigger but also sportier. I started putting muscle on my shoulders, chest and legs which I was convinced hid how fat I actually was. I developed a body shape that was large but solid. I was convinced that although I was still carrying lots of excess weight I no longer looked tubby-fat. When I was 14 my PE teachers introduced me to athletics. They soon realised that I was built for shot putt and discuss throwing and after some initial success at small school competitions I joined a club and took it up seriously. At this age I had a waist of about 38” but was doing about 3-4 hours of exercise almost everyday, what with rugby, running, gym, swimming and athletics – in and out of school. My weight had by now increased to roughly 15 stones and my BMI was over 30. I was physically fit and succeeding at sport but still carrying quite a lot of fat. I no longer thought of myself as fat but I knew that other people did. Between the ages of 14 and 18 I started to be picked for regional teams in rugby and for international athletic competitions for Wales. My sporting career was going very well but the downside of this was that I was doing sports that benefited from me being heavier. So the better I got the heavier I wanted to become. I got to the stage where I was eating almost every hour and doing my best to put on weight. At the time I thought that I was putting on muscle and being a huge, toned sports machine. It took me a while to realise that actually my muscles weren't getting any bigger but my waist was! By the time I had completed my A-levels I was for the first time over 18 stones and had a waste of nearly 40”. So, at this point I was doing everything that I had been told that would make me more adapted for my sport and I was succeeding but without noticing it I was actually putting on lots of useless excess weight that in the long term was not good for me! During my first year of university I gave up athletics and decided that I no longer needed to be as heavy for my sports. This decision combined with living away from home, cooking for myself and walking over an hour a day to and from Uni soon began to bear fruit. By the summer of my first year at Uni, aged 19, I had for the first time in my life managed to control my weight. When I came to Uni I was 18 stone. After that first year I was down to 14 stone – a weight I had not been since I was 14 years old! I had played rugby for the Medical school during my first year but as a 2nd row/back row substitute. These positions needed me to be fit and not necessarily all that heavy and this helped me lose the weight. During my second year I began to start as a 2nd row and was soon asked to help out in the front row. I enjoyed playing these positions and again realised that I was pretty good at it and that extra weight would make me even better. So between 2nd year and the end of 3rd year I had put on nearly 5 stone in weight and this put me back to where I started at my graduation at the end of 3rd year. The ironic and sad thing is about all this that the fatter, less “good looking” and unhealthier I became, the better I was adapted for the sports I had chosen. It had never occurred to me that being good at competitive sports might actually be bad for my health. The Change and life lessons learnt At the beginning of my 4th year I had realised that I was fatter than I should be and had started to pick up a number of niggly injuries from playing these tough, body destroying positions in rugby. I decided that I would start to take the rugby less seriously and aim to stay fit and healthy rather than be good at a competitive sport. With this new attitude to life I resolved to lose weight. Over the course of the year there were a number of ups and downs. I firstly went back to all the men’s health magazines that I had stock piled over the years and started to work out where I was going wrong with my health. After a little investigation it became apparent that going running and working out in the gym was not enough to become healthy. If you want to be slim and healthy then your diet is far more important than what physical activity you do. My diet used to be almost entirely based on red meat and carbs: steak, mince, bacon, rice and pasta. Over the year I changed my diet to involve far more vegetables, more fibre, more fruit, more salad and way less meat! The result was that by Christmas 2012 I was finally back below 18 stones. The diet had started to have benefits. Then came exams! By the end of exams in April 2013 I had gone back up 19 stones and a waist of >40”. I was still spending nearly 2 hours a day doing weights in the gym and running or cycling 3 times a week. Even with all this exercise and a new self- awareness of my size, a terrible diet over the 3 week exam period had meant that I gained a lot of fat. After exams I went travelling in China for 3 weeks. While I was there I ate only local food and lots of coffee. Did not each lunch and was walking around exploring for over 6 hours a day. When I got back I was 17.5 stone, about 106kg. My waist had shrunk back down to 36” and I could fit into clothes I had not worn in years. This sudden weight loss was not explained by traveller’s diarrhoea or any increased activity above normal. What made me lose weight was eating a fairly healthy diet and eating far less calories than I normally would. I know this sounds like common sense but I had always read and believed that if you exercised enough then you could lose weight without having to decrease your calorie intake too much. I have always hated the sensation of being hungry and have always eaten regular to avoid this awful gnawing sensation. I had almost become hunger-phobic, always eating when given the opportunity just in case I might feel hungry later and not because I actually needed to eat. The time in China made me realise that actually I don’t NEED to eat that regularly and I don’t NEED to eat that much. I can survive perfectly ably without regular sustenance and have more than enough fat stores to live my life fully without needing to each too much. My eating had just become a habit, a WANT and completely unnecessary. After being home for a month I have had some ups and downs trying to put my new plans into action. Not eating works really easily in a foreign country, where it’s hot, you are busy and you don’t have a house full of food or relatives that want to feed you. I have managed to maintain my weight around 17.5 stones and kept my waist within 36” trousers. I am counting that as a success so far. The plan from now on is to get my weight down to under 16.5 stones because I believe that as this weight I will not be carrying too much excess weight and my BMI will be as close to “not obese” as it is likely to get without going on a starvation diet. I intend to achieve this goal by maintain my level of physical activity – at least 6 hours of gym work a week, 2 cardio sessions, tennis, squash, cycling, swimming and golf as the whim takes me. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, I intend to survive off far fewer calories with a diet based on bran flakes, salad, fruit, nuts, chicken and milk. I am hoping that this very simple plan will work! Conclusion Writing this short(-ish) autobiography was quite cathartic and I would really recommend it for other people who are trying to remake themselves. Its helped me put my thoughts in order. Over the years I wanted to lose weight because I wanted to look better. This desire has now matured into a drive to be not just slimmer but healthier; I no longer want to be slimmer just for the looks but also to reduce the pressure on my joints, to reduce the pressure on my cardiovascular system, to reduce my risks of being fat when I am older, to hopefully reduce the risk of dying prematurely and to some extent to make life cheaper – eating loads of meat to prevent hunger is expensive! I hope this blog has been mildly interesting, but also informative of just how easy it is for even a health conscious, sporty individual to become fat in our society. I also wanted to document how difficult it is to lose weight and maintain that new lower weight for any prolonged length of time. At some point I would like to do a blog on the best methods for weight loss but that may have to wait until I have found what works for me and if I do actually manage to achieve my goals. Would be a bit hypercritical to write such a blog while still having a BMI yo-yoing around 32 I feel! Thought for the day 1 - Gaining wait is easy, becoming fat is easy, losing fat is also technically easy! The hard part is developing AND then maintaining a healthy mental attitude towards your weight. The human body has evolved to survive starvation. We are almost perfectly made to build up high density fat stores just in case next year’s crops fail and we have to go a few months on broth. I will say it again – We are designed to survive hard conditions! The problem with the modern world and with modern society is that we no longer have to fight to survive. For the first time in human history food is no longer scarce… it is in fact incredibly abundant and cheap (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z74og9HbTM). It is no surprise that when a human body is allowed to eat want and how much it craves and then do as little activity as possible, that it puts on fat very quickly. This has to be one of the major ironies of our age – When the human race has evolved society enough that we no longer need to have fat stores in case of disaster, that we are now the fattest humans have ever been! 2 – The best bit of advice I was ever given is this: “Diets ALWAYS fail! No matter what the diet or how determined you are, if you diet then within 2 years you will be the same weight or heavier than you are now. The only way to a healthy body is through a healthy LIFESTYLE CHANGE! You have to make changes that you are prepared to keep for a long time.”
over 8 years ago
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
almost 8 years ago
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.
over 7 years ago
I read an article recently that 90% of surgical trainees have experienced bullying of one form or other in their practice. That’s 90%. That’s shocking. Worryingly it is highly likely that this statistic is not purely isolated to surgery. This is evidence of a major problem that needs to be addressed. We don’t accept bullying in schools and in the workplace policies are in place to stop bullying and harassment– so why have 90% of trainees experienced bullying? I can relate to this from personal experience, as I am sure most of us can. Prior to intercalating I had always had the typical med student ambition of joining the big league and taking on surgery. I had a keen interest in anatomy, I had decided to intercalate in anatomy, I did an SSC on surgical robotics, presented at an undergraduate surgical conference and had a small exposure to surgery in my first couple of years that gave me enough drive to take on a competitive career path. I took it upon myself to try and arrange a brief summer attachment where I would learn as a clinical medical student what it is like to scrub in and be in theatre. At the beginning I was so excited. At the end every time someone mentioned surgery I felt sick. It became apparent very quickly that I was an inconvenience. I think medical students all get this feeling – ‘being in the way’ - but this was different. This was being made to feel deliberately uncomfortable. I asked if I could have some guidance on scrubbing in and this was met with a complete huff and annoyance because I didn’t know how to do it properly (thank goodness for a lovely team of theatre nurses!). I even got assigned a pet name for the week – the ‘limpet’ (notable for their clinging on to rocks) that was frequently used as a humiliation tactic in front of colleagues. By the end of the week I dreaded walking into the hospital and felt physically sick every morning. Now some people might say ‘man up’ and get on with it. Fair enough, but I’m a fairly resilient character and it takes a lot to make me feel like I did that week. This experience completely eradicated any ambition I had at the time to go into surgery. Since then I’ve focused elsewhere and generally dreaded surgical rotations until very recently where I managed to meet a wonderful orthopaedic team who were incredibly encouraging. Bullying can be subjective. Just because a consultant asks you a difficult question doesn’t mean they’re bullying you. By and large clinicians want to stretch you and trigger buttons that make you go and look things up. If it drives you to work and develops you as a professional then it’s not bullying, but if it makes you feel rubbish, sick or less about yourself then you should perhaps think twice about the way you’re being treated. Of course bullying doesn’t stop at professionals. Psychological bullying is rife in medical schools. We’ve all been ‘psyched out’ by our peers – how much do you know? How did you know that when I didn’t? Intimidating behaviour can be just as aggressive. Americans dub these people ‘Gunners’ although we’ve been rather nice and adopted the word ‘keen’ instead. Luckily most medical schools have a port of call for this sort of behaviour. But a word of advice – don’t let anyone shrug it off. If it’s a problem, if it’s affecting you – tell someone. Bullying individuals that are trying to learn and develop as professionals is entirely unacceptable. If you would like to share similar experiences, drop them in the comments box below.
over 7 years ago
It seems a little simple – even childish – coming from a character-driven, family-friendly animation, but this line struck a reflective chord within me. Much like the Guardians in the children’s movie “Jack Frost” who protect the innocence and happiness of children, physicians protect and heal people who are helpless and in need. While the end purpose of a good physician – to effectively and compassionately care for their patients – may be common, the paths and reasons that drive us to walk this path have different and often complicated origins. At the heart of it, I believe we all have our unique “centers.”
over 6 years ago