Hi guys, my name is Angela! I am currently an F2 doing a year in Australia! My key interest is neurosurgery and as a neurosurgery SHO now in Adelaide, I thought I'd start a blog on a few neurosurgery/neurology issues I encounter regularly on the wards. This is aimed to help all medical students studying neurology/F1/SHO in neurosurgery. Few topics could include:
Basic management of neurosurgery/neurology patients - the neurology exam
Ophthalmology exam and lesion representation
Raised intracranial pressure
Acute head injury
Decreased conscious level
Electrolytes imbalance in the neurosurgical patient
Fluid management in the neurosurgical patient
2014 is already more than a month old (if you can believe it) and with each passing day, the world we live in is speeding towards breakthroughs in every sphere of life. We're running full tilt, wanting to be bigger and better than we were the day or the hour before. Every passing day reinvents the 'cutting edge' of technology, including medical progress and advancement. Gone are the medieval days when doctors were considered all knowing deities, while medicine consisted of leeches being used to drain 'bad blood'. Nowadays, health isn't just about waiting around until you pick up an infection, then going to your local GP to get treated; in today's world it's all about sustaining your wellbeing. And for that, the new kid on the block is biohacking.
Biohacking is the art and science of maximizing your biological potential. As a hacker aims to gain complete control of the system he's trying to infiltrate, be it social or technological; similarly a biohacker aims to obtain full control of his own biology. Simply put, a biohacker looks for techniques to improve himself and his way of life. Before you let your imagination run away with you and start thinking of genetic experiments gone wrong, let me assure you that a biohack is really just about any activity you can do to increase your capabilities or advance your wellbeing. Exercising daily can be a biohack. So can doing the crossword or solving math sums, if it raises your IQ by a few points or improves your general knowledge. What characterizes biohacking is the end goal and the consequent modification of activities to achieve that goal.
So what kind of goals would a biohacker have? World domination? Not quite. Adding more productive hours to the day and more productivity to those hours? Check. Eliminating stress and it's causes from their lives? Check. Improving mood, memory and recall, and general happiness? You bet.
So the question arises; aren't we all biohackers of sorts? After all, the above mentioned objectives are what everyone aspires to achieve in their lives at one point or the other. unfortunately for all the lazy people out there (including yours truly), biohacking involves being just a tad bit more pro active than just scribbling down a list of such goals as New Year resolutions!
There are two main approaches to selecting a biohack that works for you- the biggest aim and the biggest gain. The biggest aim would be targeting those capabilities, an improvement in which would greatly benefit you. This could be as specific as improving your public speaking skills or as general as working upon your diet so you feel more fit and alert. In today's competitive, cut throat world, even the slightest edge can ensure that you reach the finish line first.
The biggest gain would be to choose a technique that is low cost- in other words, one that is beneficial yet doesn't burn a hole through your pocket!
It isn't possible to give a detailed description of all the methods pioneering biohackers have initiated, but here are some general areas that you can try to upgrade in your life:
Hack your diet- They say you are what you eat. Your energy levels are related to what you eat, when you take your meals, the quantity you consume etc. your mood and mental wellbeing is greatly affected by your diet. I could go on and on, but this point is self expanatory. You need to hack your diet! Eat healthier and live longer.
Hack your brain- Our minds are capable of incredible things when they're trained to function productively. Had this not been the case, you and I would still be sitting in our respective caves, shivering and waiting for someone to think long enough to discover fire. You don't have to be a neuroscientist to improve your mental performance-studies show that simply knowing you have the power to improve your intelligence is the first step to doing it.
Hack your abilities- Your mindset often determines your capacity to rise to a challenge and your ability to achieve. For instance, if you're told that you can't achieve a certain goal because you're a woman, or because you're black or you're too fat or too short, well obviously you're bound to restrict yourself in a mental prison of your own shortcomings. But it's a brave new world so push yourself further. Try something new, be that tacking on an extra lap to your daily exercise routine or squeezing out the extra time to do some volunteer work. Your talents should keep growing right along with you.
Hack your age- You might not be able to do much about those birthday candles that just keep adding up...but you can certainly hack how 'old' you feel. Instead of buying in on the notion that you decline as you grow older, look around you. Even simple things such as breathing and stamina building exercises can change the way you age.
We have a responsibility to ourselves and to those around us to live our lives to the fullest. So maximise your potential, push against your boundaries, build the learning curve as you go along. After all, health isn't just the absence of disease but complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and biohacking seems to be Yellow Brick Road leading right to it!
The NHS is one of the largest employers in the world. It is one of the largest healthcare providers in the world and it is one of the most loved and needed institutions in this country.
The downsides to the NHS is that it is constantly ‘in crisis’ and it is expected to provide better care and newer treatments with less money and not enough staff. Recently, this has caused a significant drop in staff morale and the beginnings of an exodus of trained staff out of the NHS. This needs to be addressed.
If you read almost any management textbook, journal article or magazine, they will tell you that happy staff perform better. This ethos is easy to theorise but less easy to practice. Companies like Google and Apple have taken this to heart but so did some of the old Victorian companies like Cadbury’s and Roundtree. These companies aimed to make a profit but also to invest and look after their staff because of moral and economic principles… and it worked.
I believe the NHS needs to embrace this old fashioned paternalistic concept, if it wishes to continue to be a world leader in excellent, affordable healthcare and professional training. If the NHS invests in its staff now, it will increase staff morale, encourage people to stay working in the NHS and ensure top quality patient care.
Staff canteens open 24/7 (or near enough), that serve good quality, healthy and affordable food. If staff have to work unsociable shifts, it seems unfair not to provide them with the chance to eat a healthy meal at 2am rather than a Domino's. Staff canteens also allow the staff to unwind and socialise away from the wards and the public, they can be unofficial hubs of productivity where the 'real business' takes place away from the meetings.
Staff rooms with free tea and coffee - it doesn't cost much and every appreciates a 'cuppa'.
A** crèche** for the children of staff, on site or nearby. Reduces the stress of having to take children to carers and pick them up, allows greater flexibility for the staff.
Free staff car parking (if they car share). Staff have to get to work and cars are the most practical way for most people, so why punish them by charging car parking?
An onsite gym that is free/reduced price for staff and open 24/7 so that staff can pop in around their various shifts. The physio gym could just be expanded so patients and staff use the same facilities. Providing healthcare is stressful, takes long hours and is antisocial. All these factors make it easy to put on weight, especially with most hospitals only providing unhealthy meals, Costa and Gregs. So, an onsite gym would make it a lot more convenient for the staff to get the exercise they need to burn off all that stress and calories. Healthier, happier staff!
A hospital/ centre social society like a student ‘MedSoc’ to organise staff socials and sports teams etc. This organisation could even organise special events for the staff like a summer ball or sports day. Anything fun that would bring the staff together and let them blow off steam. It could easily incorporate, elected officials from the professional bodies and elected representatives of the different employees and act as an unofficial staff voice.
Regular staff forums that allow each group of employees to raise concerns or solutions to problems with the organisations management and senior staff.
Staff rota’s should not just be imposed by management but should be organised in a flexible manner that allows staff input.
The NHS management should encourage and provide extra learning opportunities for the staff. By investing in staff education they provide people with opportunities to develop them selves which will benefit the organisation and increase their sense of satisfaction with what they are doing.
Team based points systems for good performance and regular rewards for excellent care. These points systems can then be used to promote competition between teams which should raise the level of care. Have a monthly leader board and reward the best team with a day at a spa or something.
These changes may hark back to ideas that are out of favour now with the increased desires for measured ‘efficiency’, but I believe that these suggestions would hugely increase staff well being, which would hopefully improve their attitudes towards the organisation they work for and would hence make them happier and less stressed when they are caring for patients.
If you have any other suggestions for improving staff wellbeing please do leave comments.
The NHS is enormous and has a huge variety. It would be fascinating to survey as many parts of it as possible and see how many places have these services available for the staff already. Please feel free to contact me if you know of any study like this or if you are keen of setting up a study like this with me.