Thursday, April 17, 2014

Episode 031: Andrew Solomon, and Parents Raising Unexpectedly Different Children

The Carver College of Medicine's conference on the intersection's between the humanities and medicine was fortunate to book author and psychologist Andrew Solomon as its featured presenter this year. Solomon is an activist and philanthropist in LGBT rights, mental health, education and the arts.

Andrew Solomon, PhD
His latest book, Far From the Tree, is an exploration of families coping with the differences between the parents and their extraordinary children: deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender.

These stories are courageous in their telling, as are the families who opened themselves up to Dr. Solomon over the eleven-year course of writing the book. Ultimately, they led Dr. Solomon to understand his own identity, and helped him with his decision to have his own children.

Students Rachel Press-Goosen, Eric Wilson, and Dwiju Kumar sat down with Dr. Solomon to discuss the book and find out more about the struggles and triumphs these families experienced.

Listen to Episode 031: Andrew Solomon, and Parents Raising Unexpectedly Different Children.

Listen to more great shows for medical students on The Vocalis Podcast Network.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Episode 030: Freestyling in McCowen

We're trying something new with the podcast. It's been a while between episodes, and your erstwhile executive producer hasn't had a lot of time to arrange for great interviewees or topics.  So, I thought, let's get together and  Freestyle, as it were.  We talk with med students Tim Bahr, Pat Hussey, Elizabeth Dupic, and Rhonda Endecott about their highs and lows of the past week, CCOM Match Day results, and whatever crossed our minds, basically.

The worst possible combination of life threatening activities
And there were some news stories that caught my eye recently including infection rates at hospitals according to the CDC (hint: I'd rather drive recklessly than get admitted); and Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales says "Uh, no" to alt-med champions because he'd rather the site feature actually credible medical info (which is good news for basic science course directors, eh?).

Listen to Episode 030: Freestyling in McCowen.
Listen to more great shows for medical students on The Vocalis Podcast Network.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Episode 029: What Tech Makes Med School Easier?

When you're drinking from the firehose, you need a good straw.  This is why medical students often turn to technology to help distill everything down into something they can actually remember and use.  But buried under a mountain of technological possibilities, it’s really difficult to decide on what level of dependence on technology you’ll accept, what apps to use, what websites to trust, how to establish a workflow for studying, whether or not residents (or worse, patients) will ding you for whipping out your smartphone during rounds, how to keep all your devices charged, and how to pay for it all.

Students Alison Pletch, Jesse Van Maanen, and Cole Cheney talked about the tech they use;  what about you?  

Listen to Episode 029: What Tech Makes Med School Easier?.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Episode 028: What Cultural Competency Really Means

You've practiced how to extract from a patient their chief complaint.  You've memorized lists (and lists and lists) of drugs, treatment modalities, and other interventions.  You've learned all the physical exam skills on the test, and you've got every organ system down pat.  You even remember the Kreb's cycle.

Japanese Apothecary Mannequin by Curious Expeditions
Now, your patient has walked into the exam room looking for help with her headache (although she turns out to have none), doesn't appreciate your blank stare when she says her soul is lost, and is very confused about why you're treating her clearly 'hot' illness with a 'hot' medicine.  Time for a psych consult?

Nope.  Time to delve into the patient's cultural beliefs about illness, treatment, and doctors, and reach some sort of understanding between you and your patient that allows for a good outcome.  That's what cultural psychiatrist Hendry Ton, the Medical Director of the Transcultural Wellness Center and Director of Education at UC Davis School of Medicine Center for Reducing Health Disparities, advised UI student Lisa Wehr to do when she encounters a patient whose beliefs just don't line up with those taught by Western medicine.

National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards in Health and Health Care

Listen to Episode 028: What Cultural Competency Really Means.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Episode 027 - A real life Dr. House: Gurpreet Dhaliwal

All our listeners are familiar with the archetype of the master diagnostician, probably best represented in pop culture by Dr. Greg House, the irascible, pill-popping doctor of the eponymous television series.  Every week, House put together the clues and discarded the red herrings to come up with a diagnosis that only he could have thought of.  It’s a great trick, and there are people out there who can really do it.  Some even do it for their peers, at grand rounds that are akin to displays of medical prestidigitation.

Dr. Dhaliwal does an unknown
case presentation for medicine residents.
But it’s about more than tricks.  For instance, in April of this year, a Hopkins review of 25 years of malpractice claim payouts found that diagnostic errors—not surgical mistakes or medication errors—made up the largest fraction of claims, the greatest harm to patients, and the highest total payouts: almost $39 billion during that time.  All this despite the common practice of defensive testing, in which tens of billions are spent each year on unnecessary tests in the hope of protecting doctors from the possibility of lawsuits.

Our guest on this episode is Dr. Gurpreet Dhaliwal, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.  Among Dr. Dhaliwal’s professional interests are clinical reasoning, diagnosis and diagnostic errors, and how physicians can improve in those areas.  He is also much less angry, and students Eric Wilson, Dwiju Kumar, and Alison Pletch found him a lot more fun to talk to, than Greg House.

Listen to Episode 027 - A real life Dr. House: Gurpreet Dhaliwal.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Episode 026 - 'Fake Patients' and Students: a Meeting of the Minds

Few students like exams.  That probably wasn't close-to-mind when, in 1999, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which accredits medical colleges, decreed that the Carver College of Medicine would incorporate clinical skills assessment into the curriculum.  Then, in 2004, the National Board of Medical Examiners began using the Step II Clinical Skills test as part of the United States Medical Licensing Examination.  This Step, one of the three that seeks to ensure students are becoming competent doctors, required students to demonstrate their clinical skills on live actors.  These actors played standardized roles so that the examination results would be meaningful.

So it was that the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, and MD programs across the country, created the Performance-Based Assessment Program.  The PBA program was charged with preparing third-year students for this new exam. They did this the exact same way the NBME did it: by hiring actors to portray patients with various complaints to test what third- and fourth-year students had learned about interviewing such patients.

Since then the program has grown tremendously.  Now they don’t just test medical students, but they teach them as well.  Things like general physical exam skills, PE skills specific to male and female patients, communication skills, and a lot more.

On this episode, students Cole Cheney, Senuri Jayatilleka, Michael Zhang, and Keenan Laraway joined simulated patients JC Luxton and Mary Nell Jackson meet for a little debate and an exchange of views on their roles as students and 'fake patients.' 

Listen to Episode 026 - Who Are These People, Anyway? Simulated Patients and Students.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Episode 025: Henrietta Lacks vs. HeLa, and the People Behind the Specimens

The efficacy of any biomedical researcher is based on his or her foundation of scientific knowledge.  Few would have any problem grasping that idea.  What's less well understood, by both researchers and laypeople alike, are the stories of the biological materials they work with.  Often these materials are cell cultures, tissue samples, human DNA.
From left to right: Dave Etler, Eboni Jones, Victoria Baptiste, David Lacks, Alison Pletch, and Greg Pelc.

Unlike the chemicals, reagents, test tubes, and machinery used in research, these materials often come from people.  That's easily forgotten when they can be ordered from catalogs and websites in the way of other commodities. But those people, who may no longer live among us, have stories.  In the case of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who passed away in the early 1950s of cervical cancer, the cells taken from her without her or her families' knowledge touched off a revolution in biomedical science. 
Henrietta and Day Lacks (From
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,"
R. Skloot, 2009)
They've contributed to the vaccine for polio, were the first cells to be cloned, and have been used in a number of cancer, virus, and pharmacological studies all over the world. Rebecca Skloot's 2009 book "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" noted that Mrs. Lacks' cells have been used in more than 60,000 studies, and 300 more are being added each month.  They are of huge importance to science because they were the first so-called immortal cell line--unlike most cells, they divide and reproduce essentially without limit.  But though no-one in Henrietta Lacks' family knew of their existence at first, the cells ultimately became of huge importance to her descendants.  In this episode, Alison Pletch, Eboni Jones, Greg Pelc, and I were honored to be able to welcome two members of the Lacks family to the show.  David Lacks is Mrs. Lacks' grandson, and Victoria Baptiste is her great granddaughter, and they spoke with us about their ancestor, informed consent, and their work with the National Institutes of Health on HeLa cell research guidelines.

Listen now to Episode 025: Henrietta Lacks vs. HeLa, and the People Behind the Specimens