Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Ultrasound—More Than Just a Diagnostic Device

Today's guest post discusses some of the cutting edge work being done using ultrasound. 

Imagine a world where a woman can give herself an ultrasound without leaving the comfort of her own home. To anyone who has ever gotten an ultrasound, this sounds like science fiction. After all, it currently takes anywhere between 2-4 years of sonography school become a fully qualified ultrasound technician. The level of training and technical expertise required to use an ultrasound machine make it difficult to imagine a world where getting a sonogram is as easy as taking your own temperature.
According to Paul Carson, a professor of radiological sciences at the University of Michigan, sonography machines will someday be among the many medical appliances that have made their way from our hospitals into our homes. If the current rate of technological development continues, we could have hospital quality, at-home sonogram technology within the next twenty years.
At-home sonogram technology won’t render ultrasound technicians obsolete any more than at-home thermometers rendered nurses obsolete. That said, the rapid rate at which sonogram technology is advancing could redefine the role that ultrasound technicians are expected to play.  
There are many medical professionals, for example, who believe that ultrasound technology could one day become the foundation for entirely new types of surgery. A team of scientists at the University of Michigan, for example, has recently pioneered a technique they’ve labeled “histotripsy”. 
For those who haven’t heard of it, histortripsy involves using high-intensity ultrasounds to create and break apart microbubbles, which fragments cell-tissues with a high degree of accuracy. Doctors could theoretically use histortripsy to target and destroy damaged cells while leaving healthy cells intact.
Other doctors are experimenting with ultrasound technology to develop more effective methods of drug delivery. One of the experiments that Professor Carson’s team is conducting involves injecting inert liquid droplets into the body, then vaporizing those droplets with targeted ultrasound blasts. 
There are two benefits to this new process. First, an active drug contained within an inert liquid droplet is exposed, but only in the part of the body targeted by the ultrasound. Second, doctors can deliver much higher doses of drugs without having to worry about side-effects that would otherwise be present.
If these experiments are successful, it could expand the medicinal role that ultrasound technicians are expected to play. People would begin to rely on ultrasound technicians for both diagnosis and treatment. The implications of these technological trends are all too obvious—if you’re considering become a ultrasound technician, there’s no better time than now.

Arthur Posey is a retired guidance counselor who now spends his days as a freelance blogger. Given his wealth of experience in the field, Arthur frequently writes about the importance of pairing students with the right trade school. When he's not doing that, Arthur is likely to be found rafting on his favorite rivers or working on his motorcycle.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ultrasound Technician Online Classes

Our guest post today talks about the exciting field of ultrasound and online ultrasound technician classes

The field of ultrasound technology is focused on utilizing advanced equipment to direct sound waves into a human body and analyzing the outcome images to diagnose medical ailments. Ultrasound technicians, also known as sonographers, must be well acquainted with sonographic instruments as well as human anatomy and the physics. Online ultrasound technician course offers students insight into different sectors of sonography including echocardiography, abdominal sonography, ob/gyn sonography, and vascular sonography. These courses allow students to improve their critical data analysis, manual dexterity, administrative, communication, and computer skills.

Knowledge Gained

Online ultrasound technician classes offer students with knowledge in various sectors, including:
  • Abdominal Sonography: Students may learn to use noninvasive imaging to detect and analyze medical ailments within the organs and structures of the abdominal area. This area of study includes the spleen, kidneys, urinary bladder, pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. 
  • OB/GYN Sonography: Classes concentrated on ob/gyn discuss the fields of gynecologic sonography and obstetric sonography. The gynecologic sonographic deals with the organs of the pelvic region, while the obstetric sonography examines the progress and condition of an expecting woman and her fetus. 
  • Vascular Sonography: The vascular sonography classes teach students about the pathology of the veins and arteries of the human body. Students learn to diagnose the diseases of the blood vessels that can cause conditions such as aneurysms, strokes, peripheral arterial diseases, and pulmonary embolisms. 
  • Anatomy and Physiology: Anatomy and physiology classes teach students about the structure of body. Through these courses students become familiar with respiratory system, circulatory system, skeletal system, functions, placement and appearance of organs, and many more. 
  • Sonographic Instrumentation: Students learn about the physics and different advanced sonography equipment. Typically the coursework of sonographic instrumentation include digital imaging station, EKG machine, and ultrasound transducer/probe. 

Skills Developed

The online sonography classes help students to develop their skills in various areas including:
  • Communication: It is a must for potential ultrasound technicians to master the medical dialect. They must be able to communicate properly in a hospital setting, deal directly with patients, and convey the condition of patients to superiors properly. 
  • Administrative: Students learn to do the administrative tasks which go along with the technical activities. They learn how to prepare various reports, record results, participate in the maintenance of laboratory accreditation, and organize tight schedules for the specific machines. 
  • Computer Skills: The computer classes teach students about the current medical technologies. Students are taught about the software which is required to create ultrasound waves and turn them to proper digital images. 
  • Data Analysis: Students learn how to analyze and interpret the data returned by the ultrasound frequencies and differentiate between pathologic and normal findings, as well as the different sorts of phenomena that can take place during imaging such as propagation artifacts and attenuation artifacts. 
  • Dexterity: Students learn to manipulate the transducer around different areas of human body, maintain advanced sonography equipment, and take care of other related health care materials. They are also taught to place the patients in proper position for imaging procedures. 

Kenneth Miller is a career counselor and a blogger. He has written lots of articles about online education and training. Find out more on his blog.

Monday, June 10, 2013

How to Get into Med School The Second Time Around

This guest post sheds some light on those of you who are reapplying to medical school: 

The first time you attempted to go to medical school, things didn't really work out so well. For whatever reason, you either did not make it there, or you left before you could finish. Now, you are ready to try again. If this sounds like you, check out these tips, because the process may not be as straightforward as you think.

Brush Up
If it's been some time since you last attended a college course, you need to brush up on those hard sciences. This will facilitate success on both your application and your eventual coursework. While you may not need to take every single class over again, you should pay particular attention to those courses in which you didn't do well. Perhaps you didn't get into medical school because your grades were low, and now you have an opportunity to fix these problems. To save money, find out if the school will accept community college credits. It's key to remember that med schools are looking for big improvements. If you earned a B in Organic Chem, shoot for nothing less than an A. Simply upgrading to a B+ won't do much for you.

Study, Study, Study
The MCATs are a huge part of getting into medical school, so you must be prepared. Remember, in order to score well on the MCATs, you also need to sharpen your writing skills. Enrolling in a class specifically designed for medical school students is the smartest thing that you can do. If you took the MCATs the first time you tried to get into medical school, think about what might have gone wrong on that particular exam. Even if you did well, your score should improve, at least marginally. The last thing you want to do is get better grades and more life experience, but do worse on your MCAT.

Gain Practical Experience
Speaking of which, how can you help yourself if your grades are low and you don't think they're going to improve? In all honesty, it will be tough to get into medical school with sub-par grades. Furthermore, it may be a sign that you won't do so well once you're there. However, if they are hovering somewhere that you still think you have a shot,, adding on more practical experience could certainly be of help. Try to attain an internship in your desired field. Since you probably have a bachelor's degree in an associated field, look for job openings that require the use of your skills. When medical schools see that you have practical experience in the field, it's a sign that you're serious and can see yourself there everyday. However, this can definitely reach a point of diminishing returns. If you've already got great internships, part-time jobs and more on resume, consider something big. How about a year volunteering in a medical clinic in Africa? You want to stand out - don't let yourself fall between the cracks of generic candidates with a 3.56 GPA, a few years as a CNA and 29 on the MCATs.

Set Realistic Expectations
Knowing what schools you can reasonably get into is a major part of succeeding in your application endeavor. For example, when your grades and MCAT scores are just average, you are probably not going to get into the top medical school in the country. Of course, you can still submit your application, but you should have some more practical choices lined up in there as well. Talk to your college adviser or find out if the campus career center has any information to offer you. You want to be sure that you are applying to a wide enough range of schools that you actually get into one of the programs you want. You may need to apply to international schools in the Caribbean if you really want to be a doctor.

Stepping Stones
Sometimes, you need to take a step back to really set yourself apart. Consider applying to a PA, Nursing or MPH program. If you know you have the skills to succeed there, you could do well in the degree program, get a few years of experience, find solid recommendations and then come back to earn your MD within a few years. It may not sound practical, but it may exactly what you need to be successful.

You might feel a little bit discouraged since you did not get into your intended program the first time you applied to medical school. However, you shouldn't give up hope. Instead, think a little bit harder this time around and figure out exactly what you need to do to succeed. Always, always, always meet with professional advisors to be sure you're putting your best self forward!

Jackie Taylor writes about education. Her recent work is on online health informatics degrees.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Overcoming The Biggest Hurdles in Med School

Briani Delgado writes today about some tips to getting through medical school:

As you probably know, medical school can be overwhelming. You're going to face some pretty difficult obstacles, and you might not know how to get through them. However, by employing the following tips, you should be able to accomplish your goals. Here's what to keep in mind:

Support System
Trying to get through medical school without a support system isn't something anyone should try. For example, if you're preparing for an exam, working with a study group is always a smart idea. When you all have questions about a particular topic, you can overcome them together. Of course, you'll be busy with your schoolwork, but you don't want to cut off all of your family members and friends either! They can be a huge source of support on your journey.

Refresher Courses
Sometimes, you might find that the subject matter is just too much for you to understand, and you wind up withdrawing from that course for a particular semester. Before doing so, find out what your school's policies are on withdrawals and if they can negatively affect you later. Before you attempt to take the class again, taking a refresher course would be wise. Your school might offer them, or you may be able to find them at a local community college.

Talk to Professors
Yes, it can be intimidating to tell your professor that you don't understand what is going on. This fear is especially pronounced when you're competing against so many other intelligent individuals. However, your professors can be a valuable source of information, and they can help you to be successful. If you;re having difficulty with a particular subject, ask your professor how you can learn more about it. Professors might be able to recommend tutoring services or other programs, and they generally have office hours during which you can speak to them about your concerns. They want you to come in - who knows, these could lead to great connections someday.

Some students assume that since they are in medical school, they would never need tutoring. However, tutoring can be an extremely valuable tool. Normally, an official tutor employed by your school will already have completed the class, and perhaps the biggest aspect of help they will provide you is what you actually need to learn from all the information you've been presented. They can tell you to not worry about this, focus on that, and exactly what something seemingly vast and complicated boils down to in a few points.

Briani Delgado writes about health sciences and careers. Her most well-known work is about earning an online associates in health informatics

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How Is Canadian Healthcare Doing?

This guest post by William Sheffield discusses the history and current state of healthcare of our neighbors to the north:

The Canadian government takes a different approach to healthcare than its neighbor. In the U.S., the healthcare system is private - each citizen pays for his or her own medical services through insurance or out of pocket. In Canada, the physicians and hospitals are also private, however, the country employs a single payer system. Put simply, all medical services are paid for by the government.

The Birth of Canada's Health Care System

It was the shortage of doctors in the Saskatchewan province around 1946 that inspired the single payer system used by the country today. By 1972, all provinces had complementary programs.

Around 1977, the federal government found it necessary to create a single plan. Having each province design its own health care system was cumbersome. In 1984, 
the Canada Health Act streamlined the process further.

About the Canada Health Care System

The Canada Health Act set criteria for the system in each province but has left management in the hands of the local governments. The Act states that medical insurance must operate on a non-profit basis. Doctors and hospitals remain for-profit businesses.

Canada supplies a physician-to-population ratio much like other countries, but employs more practicing nurses than the U.S. There are significant drawbacks to this approach in both countries. The most common complaint is wait times. The Canadian government addressed this issue in 2010 by 
establishing Patient Wait Times Guarantees to limit the amount of time a patient could be asked to wait before being treated.

Does the Canadian Health Care System Work?

In the sense that all residents have access to medical care, the system works. In the U.S., people without insurance can be denied help in non-emergency cases. The quality is also comparable to other countries. 
Statistics from the journal Health Affairs scores Canada healthcare at the same level as other countries including England, Australia, and the U.S. when looking at in survival rates for cancer and wellness care.

One of the most effective benefits of the Canadian approach is the distribution of funds. The bulk of a payment goes for medical services, not to the administration. The U.S. has allowed politics to clog their healthcare facilities. Over-administration takes funding away from service providers, driving up the cost of medical care to patients.

The Drawbacks

Canada has one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world. Other healthcare systems, especially those in under-developed regions, provide quality care for less money. That is the principle behind medical tourism--people travel to these areas for surgeries that are prohibitively expensive at home.

Even with the changes made to reduce wait times, Canadian residents still have problems getting timely access to services. Part of the reason for this is the inflexibility of the system. It is difficult for the government to stay on top of all the issues because the program is so massive.

Above all things, the health care system in Canada must remain financially viable and that makes the decision-making process primarily political. The government is deciding what it can and cannot do based on budgeting restrictions. This limits the care offered to the Canadian public and forces them to look elsewhere for service.

It is safe to say that there are good and bad aspects to the universal health care system offered in Canada. The government is attempting to improve it, but the vastness of the program makes management difficult.

William Sheffield is a freelance writer who focuses on health insurance, medical science, medical education, the medical profession and other related matters. Those looking into health insurance in Canada should consider the coverage options at Kanetix in order to obtain a desirable deal.


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