Monthly Archive for July, 2007

forget failure of the healthcare system, what about failure of the medical school admissions system?

Thankfully, all of the hoopla over Michael Moore’s SiCKO has finally died down. Almost. I’m probably the only person in the healthcare field who has not seen his movie. Not because I don’t believe that our current healthcare system is full of flaws, but because I frankly don’t like the guy and his methods. It’s just plain sad that it took his brand of over-the-top sensationalism to wake America up to our healthcare woes.

Let’s wave our magic wand and give everybody free universal healthcare without having to tax doctors or anyone else to come up with the funding. No long waits to see specialists or for imaging or procedures and everyone will get state-of-the-art treatment for all that ails them. Everyone will have access to care. Magic, I say! Then everything will be perfect, right?

Not when we have second- or third-rate doctors providing said universal healthcare. Forget fixing the healthcare system. We can try to fix it all we want, but as long as we allow people who are not cut out to be doctors to become doctors, we’re still screwed. Forget sleazy insurance companies and their shady cost-cutting practices. Welcome to the world of sleazy underhanded medical school admissions practices! During the next year, instead of wallowing away being completely ignored in my lab, I will infiltrate my med school’s admissions committee with my handy secret hidden camera and make a shockumentary on the atrocities that go on behind closed doors. And it will be called WaCKO.

Continue reading ‘forget failure of the healthcare system, what about failure of the medical school admissions system?’

grand rounds 3.45

Don’t forget to check out Grand Rounds today at Health Business Blog.

you quit medicine so get off your damn high horse

Not too long ago, I wrote about an MD who quit her internal medicine residency to pursue a new specialty instead because she couldn’t stand the helplessness that comes from diagnosing people with untreatable conditions.  Well, apparently, she decided that this new specialty wouldn’t quite solve that problem either (duh!) and is not going to finish residency.  Instead, it seems that she plans on pursuing a purely research career, which explains why she’s my major professor’s new teacher’s pet.  That’s fine with me except for the whole stealing my major professor part.

But everyday, I have to listen to her get on her high horse about what’s wrong with medicine today.  Friday, it was a whole tirade against how doctors are too quick to order imaging instead of taking a good history and performing a good physical.  And surprisingly enough, my major professor didn’t interrupt her before she could get two words out, which is how I know she’s his new teacher’s pet.  Then today, I was subjected to her rant on how primary care providers aren’t compensated well enough for what they do because they’re not procedure-based.  What is this?  Second year of med school?!  I’ve had more than enough of these people who complain about what’s wrong with the system yet do nothing to fix it.  And really, if she cared so much, why not go into health care reform instead of research?  Why not finish residency and be one of those doctors who take good histories and perform awesome physicals instead of ordering a bunch of tests?  Ugh.  Bad enough she stole my major professor.  Now she’s going to annoy me to death with her soapbox speeches.  She better shut up or get the hell out of the lab before I throw a microscope at her.

just because…

I’m a nerd and love Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Captain Picard is practically my hero.  He’s always so stoic and serious.  So it’s funny to see the actor who plays him, Patrick Stewart, do and say things that Captain Picard would never do or say.  Just watch the clip below.

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inspirational music for the graduate student 2.3

My major professor has a new teacher’s pet and doesn’t pay any attention to me anymore.  He even forgot Bastille Day, my favorite holiday of the year.  I don’t really care except for the fact that it’s just plain messed up that he’s completely abandoned me so that he can teach someone else.  And to make things even more messed up, he’s demanding my data so that he can use it to write a grant.  Without telling me.  Only problem is: I’m not dumb.  I figured out his little scheme.  It’s like I’m the little black sheep now.  I get kicked around.  And used.  So I guess I’m better off without him.  Except that I need him to finish my PhD.  I’m so screwed.

Since I’m better off without him, my song for the week is: Unkle Bob – Better Off.

As always, feel free to send me song suggestions here.

how doctors think (or fail to think)

My little bout with cellulitis left me so bored that I finally got around to finishing How Doctors Think, a book by Jerome Groopman that got quite a bit of press when it came out a couple of months ago.  It’s a pretty easy read, but it was full of things I had never really thought about before.  For example, we know that we often make assumptions about people because of the way they look or act.  The disheveled guy who shows up at the ER must be a transient looking for a place to sleep.  And it makes sense that doctors and nurses often make these same assumptions when they treat these patients.  What I didn’t really consider is that we also make the opposite assumptions about healthy-looking people; that is, when we see someone who looks fit as a god and who we learn exercises and eats right, we tend to think that they can’t possibly have heart disease and aren’t on full alert when we’re examining them and ordering tests, leading us to possibly miss the diagnosis.  There are also good examples of how doctors can get into a one-track-mind kind of mode once they’ve latched onto a diagnosis that makes sense to them.  All in all, I would recommend this book to medical students and patients alike.  Medical students can become aware of the errors in thinking that doctors can make that they don’t really teach in medical school.  Patients can use this book to learn how to be more proactive in their care–in fact, he gives specific examples of the kinds of questions patients can ask to help steer their doctors away from some of the common mental traps that exist in medicine.

flipping burgers at mcdonalds = well-rounded

Ah, I knew this day was coming. With the current emphasis on being “well-rounded” when it comes to college and professional/graduate school applications, it was just bound to happen. All of a sudden, it’s not enough that people go to China and cure AIDS while at the same time finding the cure for cancer and our dependence on foreign oil. Now, admissions people are favoring applicants that have had good, old get-your-hands-dirty jobs.

I’ve always thought that this (overwhelming) emphasis on extracurricular activities and being well-rounded was a bunch of hogwash used by admissions people to explain away shady affirmative-action-type admissions. I myself will always believe that the person with a 4.0 GPA is better than someone with a 3.3 even if 4.0-person didn’t have a single extracurricular activity (but really, what 4.0-person would be dumb enough to not do any extracurriculars?). What do we care about most when we think of our future doctors? That they actually have the brains or that they built houses in Africa one summer? And now, that they know what it’s like to be a member of the minimum-wage-working class?! Sure, some med students and doctors could stand for a lesson or two in humility, but it means nothing when they are only doing these things to increase their chances of acceptance. Which is what I’ve found most disturbing about the current emphasis on well-roundedness. It breeds a whole new class of applicants who don’t really give a rat’s ass about homelessness, AIDS, Darfur, or whatever their cause-of-choice is, but who mindlessly do these things to make their applications look good. That’s what I saw last year with our Super Special Undergrad Research Internship program and it’s what I continue to see this year. Way back when I was a Super Special Undergrad Research Intern, I really was doing it because of my interest in medicine and research. Because of that, I actually worked my ass off and did meaningful work. Ever since then, all I’ve seen are these spoiled, entitled slackers who somehow get into the program (mostly through connections) sitting around Facebook-stalking all day. It may be trite to say, but their hearts just aren’t in it. Should these people who are just faking it then be chosen over my 4.0 friend just because they faked it? Are these the kind of people we want as our future doctors, scientists, professors?

I’m all for volunteering and contributing to causes. I did my fair share of volunteer-work. But I only did what I was passionate about. My application wasn’t chock full of extracurriculars. And guess what. I still got into college and med school. Because, sometimes, the system actually works and admissions people can smell bullshit when they see lists of 15+ extracurricular activities.

And imagine these poor kids. Their parents are already pushing them to do sports and a bunch of extracurriculars. Now they’re going to have to flip burgers at McDonalds too? I can’t help but be amused by the thought of spoiled-country-club boy miserably flipping burgers at his local McDonalds only to go home reeking of grease. If nothing else, at least this trend in what they define as “well-rounded” is good for a few laughs at the expense of spoiled, rich kids.

grand rounds 3.44

Don’t forget to check out Grand Rounds today at A Chronic Dose.