Monday, March 2, 2015

My Own Life

Dr. Oliver Sacks is a Professor or Neurology at New York University School of Medicine who has written numerous best-selling books including, "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" and "Awakenings." He recently wrote a moving piece in the NYT called "My Own Life" about learning that he has terminal cancer. It's worth a read.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Med Schools Have No Patience for No Patients

For those undergraduates who are starting to think about their medical school applications, I will tell you a secret: One of the biggest weaknesses I advise candidates on is their lack of clinical experience. I've seen students with MCATs in the high 30s who did not get into medical school on their first try. They had little or no patient experience.

So, ensure your application has robust clinical activities. Some suggestions:

Clinical Care Extender
Low Income Clinic Volunteer
Hospice Volunteer
Veterinarian's Assistant (a great way to get hands-on procedural experience)

If you are not excited about getting clinical experience, it is time to question your interest in a career in medicine... which is exactly what admissions committees will do if they don't see that experience :).

Take a look below at my Guru on the Go© Video about this topic.

Monday, February 16, 2015

NRMP Rank Deadline Approaching

Please remember that on February 25 your rank list must be certified by 9pm EST, and changes cannot be made after that time. The NRMP will not enter a list; add, delete or move programs; or modify a rank order list. 

Every year I see applicants making changes to their lists at the last minute. Please take some time to consider your decisions, and submit your rank list well before the deadline.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Paid Undergraduate Science Writers' Fellowship Opportunity

In 1995, I was selected to be an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mass Media Fellow. I was paid to intern at the Oregonian newspaper where I improved my science journalism skills. The experience was fantastic, and I strongly recommend the fellowship to other science students.

The AAAS has a relatively new fellowship, specifically for minority science writers. The below is information from the AAAS about this paid internship:

The AAAS Pitts Family Foundation Minority Science Writers Internship is for undergraduates who are interested in journalism as a career and who want to learn about science writing. In addition to improving their skills, the program seeks to make a dent in the demographics of the profession: Although science is a global activity, the journalists who cover it don't reflect that diversity.

Funded by the Pitts Family Foundation, the internship takes place each summer at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of AAAS's Science magazine, the largest interdisciplinary journal in the world. Interns spend ten weeks at Science under the guidance of award-winning reporters and editors practicing what science writers do for a living. They have a chance to meet leading scientists, attend conferences and hearings, and cover breaking news.

Interns are expected to contribute to all facets of the news operation, including writing bylined articles for the print magazine and online news service, engaging in social media, and contributing to other news products. Interns receive a weekly stipend as well as the cost of a round-trip ticket to and from Washington, D.C. The internship runs from early June to mid-August. This year's application deadline is March 1, 2015. To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate academic program at the time they submit their application.

Monday, February 2, 2015

No Ring, No Thing

Residency applicants, please take a look at this Guru on the Go© video. Remember that promises made by a residency director during the interview process should not affect your rank list in any way.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Medical School Wait List: Can Anything Be Done?

Just when you’ve completed your medical school interviews and feel that you can sit back and relax because – after all – the rest is out of your hands, you may be surprised by a wait list notification. What is the next step? What can you do?

First of all, realize that getting into medical school has become increasingly competitive year by year. Being wait listed is better than being rejected, and thus a positive, despite the anxiety is causes.

A few things you can do:
1. Send a letter of intent. Let the school know of your continued interest and your new accomplishments. Ensure the letter is well written, streamlined and brief. Be explicit about your enthusiasm, and if the school is your first choice, let the admissions committee know that.
2. Ask the school if you can set up a second look. A second visit indicates to the institution that you are serious, and it offers you more data in making your decision if you are later offered a spot.
3. Do not neglect your other options. Don’t focus all of your attention on this institution to the exclusion of others: Ensure you are well-prepared for upcoming interviews at other medical schools.
4. Plan for last minute notice. At some schools applicants are offered slots off the wait list throughout the summer. I’ve even heard of acceptances being offered the day before medical school was to begin. Would you be able to change your living situation, move your personal belongings and uproot if this were to happen?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Evidence-Based Decision Making Regarding Your Planned Specialty

For those first-, second-, and third-year medical students who are trying to pick a specialty, remember to start with the facts: The NRMP published Charting Outcomes of the Matchfemale doctor with xray to give applicants an idea of what characteristics successful 2014 Main Residency Match candidates had. While sobering (the mean Step 2 score for successful radiology U.S. senior applicants was 249), the information is valuable as you approach the decision-making process.

If you're early in the process, you can strategically plan your candidacy for success. If you're later in the process, you can decide whether you have the characteristics necessary to pursue a successful Match process.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Doctor, Shut Up and Listen

This recent NYT piece by Nirmal Joshi is interesting, and as someone with a human biology background, I'm a big fan of improving patient-doctor communication.

But the author fails to address a critical factor here - oppressive patient volumes. In the Emergency Department (ED), a physician must balance the time she's spending with each patient with the wait time that many others are suffering without having had the privilege of seeing a doctor yet. And crushing patient volume is not just an ED problem. A primary care friend of mine told me she has to see one patient every 15 minutes to keep on schedule. She points out that just getting a thorough history from a new, elderly patient and counseling on preventive care can take all of that time.