Monday, February 27, 2012

Gifts For Medical Students On Match Day

According to the National Residency Matching Program, Match Day is the day when U.S. medical school soon-to-be graduates will find out what internship and residency programs they have "matched" to, after the several months long interview and ranking process. While graduation is the formal and ceremonial completion of medical training that leads to the conferring of a medical degree, in many ways, the match day is the functional culmination of four years of hard work, or in many cases, a lifelong effort. Friends and family often take part in Match Day ceremonies put on by medical schools to celebrate this major transition point with their loved ones. To help celebrate, here are a few gift ideas for the lucky matchee:

1. A tablet

As technology becomes ever more integrated into medicine, having a tablet is becoming an essential device for staying up-to-date with the latest medical knowledge. Many hospitals now provide free Wifi for their staff, making these tools a highly useful as well as stylish "pocket brain." Tablets can also be utilized for performing clinical calculations or even in evaluating patients in the clinic with the use of specialized apps. In many ways, starting internship or residency is almost like going back to school again... except you are getting paid and likely working harder. Still, might as well be prepared like all the other 'students', right? 

 2. A Little Leisure Reading


As well as medical school can prepare a student intellectually for being a practicing physician, there's no substitute for the real thing. All three books above are excellent and describe how the authors made that critical transition in their respective specialties. In fact, the House of God has become so well known that some of the terms coined within entered the general medical lexicon, although usually as kind of an inside joke. 

 3. Or Perhaps Something More Inspirational?


When the doldrums of intern year hit (usually around January/February when the novelty has worn off but the light at the end of the tunnel is still somewhat dim, the two books above both provide a big picture look of why we as doctors do what we do. Whether caring for patients in underserved communities in far flung corners of the world or working to turn the arc of a deadly disease, these doctors have made a difference and show us how our daily work is part of the larger whole. Yes, cliche, but sometimes you need those "Hallmark moments" to push you forward as an intern. 

Haha, and if you really want to impress them, buy the Kindle above and preload it with all these titles! That way they can read the book during downtime even at work! 

 4. Something To Make Them Smile


And when all else fails, why not try something cuddly? Take it into work and put a smile on the faces of your colleagues and patients!

Looking more ideas? Check out some Match Day gift ideas from years past!

Updated 2015-12-25

Monday, February 20, 2012

Categorical, Prelim, or Transitional Internship?

For medical students going into specialties that do not have a pre-defined internship, navigating what to do with that first year of postgraduate training can be quite a challenge. Luckily, the Doctors-In-Training Student Center has a great overview of the different options:
The first year of post-graduate training following medical school is called "internship." Medical school graduates in the first year of post-graduate training are called an "interns" regardless of what that first year of training consists.  Your initial year could be one of the following: a Categorical Year, Transitional Year, or Preliminary Year. 
In many specialties, graduates can go right into specialty training, but several require an intern year of more generalized training before specialty training; hence the Transitional and Preliminary Programs. When this occurs, students must apply and interview at both their specialty programs and their intern year programs, even though they will not begin their specialty training a year after their intern year. This has also made Preliminary and Transitional Programs highly competitive, as many of the very competitive specialties require these types of intern years before specialty training.  
Some of the fields that require a basic training year before beginning residency include: 
  • Radiology 
  • Neurology 
  • Anesthesiology 
  • Ophthalmology 
  • Radiation Oncology 
  • Dermatology  
A Transitional Year is an intern experience that many fields require or prefer where the student experiences a global training before beginning residency training. In this training, the graduate would experience both surgical and internal medicine rotations and be well prepared to enter a specialty where a thorough understanding of pathology, physiology, and surgical procedures are necessary. 
The alternative to the Transitional year for some is the Preliminary Year. Preliminary Programs are further divided into Internal Medicine or Surgery. Surgical specialties will obviously require a Surgical Preliminary Year, but other specialties, such as anesthesiology will accept either a Preliminary Year in Surgery or Internal Medicine.
To learn more, check out their entire article at the DIT site.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What Medical Students Need To Know About Medical Malpractice

Given how much of an effect malpractice has on how healthcare is practiced in the U.S., it is surprising how little it is discussed in medical school. This guest post by Allison Dean provides an overview of what medical students should know about medical malpractice. 

There is something known as the “July Effect,” that every medical student should know about. Most medical students graduate and flock to hospitals on July 1st to begin their residencies; and during that month, according to a 2010 released report from the Journal of General Internal Medicine, “Inside medical institutions, in [U.S.]counties containing teaching hospitals, fatal medication errors spiked by 10% in July and in no other month [JR=1.10 (1.06–1.14)]. In contrast, there was no July spike in counties without teaching hospitals. The greater the concentration of teaching hospitals in a region, the greater the July spike (r=.80; P=.005). These findings held only for medication errors, not for other causes of death.” These findings were based on an analysis of all medication related deaths in the U.S. between 1979 and 2006.

And this only relates to medication related errors. It’s understandable and expected that as a student, you will make mistakes; students/new comers of every occupation make on-the-job mistakes. The problem is that despite all of your work being signed off on and supervised by a superior, you may be sued for your mistakes in this lawsuit-happy country.

Currently, most states allow medical students to be included in medical malpractice cases; generally, the schools that students attend take on the costs of their legal defense. However, the suits can negatively affect students in the long run in the following ways:

  • Impede on education
    Law suits take time, and a lot of time isn’t something medical students have. Apart from working an ungodly number of hours, medical students then have to take time to deal with the responsibilities inherent with the legal case. Additionally, out of fear of suit, schools may not allow students to engage in risky learning activities. Both of these results ultimately hinder medical students’ education.
  • Hurt future job prospectsEven if a suit brought against a medical student is dismissed or dropped, it will follow him/her in the future. People will see that the student was involved in case through court information available to the public.
  • Increased malpractice insurance when soughtBecause court related information is available to the public, when a student seeks malpractice insurance later in life, they could experience higher rates due to their case history.

Given the negative ramifications, some groups are taking action to prevent medical students from being involved in such cases. For instance, Arizona’s governor signed SB1429, a senate act that, if passed, will make medical students not liable in instances of medical malpractice if they were being supervised by a licensed medical professional at the time of their mistake. Hopefully, acts like Arizona’s will catch on in other states; but until then, medical students should be wary of the impact malpractice suits can have on their careers in the long run.

Allison Dean has a long-standing interest in educating medical students and the general public about medical malpractice and its effects on healthcareAllison also writes about medical malpractice lawyers.

Monday, February 06, 2012

5 Healthcare Professional / Medical Student Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

This isn't our first attempt at a Valentine's Day gift guide for med students, but admittedly the last one was a bit gender-biased. For 2012, we're going to try a little different approach, one that may involve a lot heart puns, allusions to cardiology, and other corniness. Or may not. You'll just have to read on to find out!

1. A Stethoscope

Yep, gotta start with the heart (for those scoring at home, that's 1 for the corny rhyme meter). Yes, I know, your loved one already has the plastic $10 stethoscope that can tell if the patient's heart is beating or not... barely. But shouldn't a quality guy or gal work with quality equipment? If they don't have a cardiology grade stethoscope, consider getting them one. It's a gift that they'll use daily in almost any specialty they go into, and one that may potentially last for decades. Read this guide to stethoscopes if you want more background info.

2. Cards... Flash Cards

 And you were thinking cardiology... nope! It's bad pun #2! As much as any med student hates to study, flash cards are an effective way to cram all that information into one's brain. Getting your beloved a soon-to-be beloved set of learning tools is a productive way to help them reach their goals. The pharmacology and ID/microbiology ones are particularly helpful. For you future internists, the Pharm Cards are by the same author as Pocket Medicine (Harvard's Marc Sabatine), the essential guide for any medicine intern or resident.Although, it would be nice to sweeten that pot with....

2b. Cards... Gift Cards

 Haha, kind of takes the sting off of having to study, no?

3. Listen to your Heart

And have your Valentine listen to their new iPod! The Product (RED) iPods donate a portion of the proceeds towards the campaign to help eliminate AIDS (You know Bono from U2, President Bush, and all those Gap t-shirts...)

4. Get that blood pumping

Nothing will get your lover's blood pumping faster than a plush stuffed erythrocyte! Hm, or not, but they just might get a case of the warm fuzzies!

5. Love in the Time of Cholera

And last but not least, for the literary lovebug in your life, might we suggest a non-medical novel? Sure, 100 Year of Solitude is better known, and this book arguably has little to do with infectious diseases ultimately, but it's a good read nonetheless and perhaps a welcome break from the trials and tribulations of modern medicine & medical education. Happy Valentine's Day!

Updated 2015-12-20


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