Compiled by Jennifer Salopek and Sarah Sonies
Welcome to the June edition of “Chart Review.” Schools are preparing to let out for the summer, and while medical students everywhere are celebrating the approaching break from the books, we put together a round-up of posts to celebrate their hard work and highlight their experiences. Read on for insights from across North America from medical students and residents.
Manu et Corde
With Latin name that translates to “with both hand and heart”, this blog from a second-year Canadian med student features a post on converting social media in the classroom from a distraction to a real-time learning tool. While some professors have expressed irritation at students’ frequent flipping between lecture notes and social media profile tabs, the professors in this student’s class “flipped the distraction” and encouraged students to not only live-tweet the geriatric-psychiatry lecture but to take the discussion online outside of the classroom. With the prevalence of social media in everyday life, is it possible that “flipping the distraction” is the next step in online learning?
In the second part of a two-part post, Jeff W., an internal medicine resident in Southern California, writes about a patient with a particularly touching story. Helen, ill with terminal cancer, had returned to the hospital a few weeks after her release and requested to be placed in the hospital’s palliative care unit. The next few weeks at the hospital were hectic, and the author was unable to say goodbye to Helen before she passed away. Jeff reflects on how even small interactions with patients can stay with physicians long after the patient has left.
The change in residency requirements has led to concerns that residents aren’t getting enough time with patients, leading to errors in patient safety. However, in a post responding to a recent New York Times Well article by Pauline Chen, MD, this Canadian internal medicine resident says that reduced residency hours shouldn’t be the sole blame factor for patient errors: Physician teams must work together to ensure that busy schedules do not get in the way of proper patient handoffs. “Medical errors are more likely to be made when processes are rushed and when you have to make clinical decisions for patients you are not familiar with. More handovers leads to more chances for errors to occur,” the author writes.
Medicine for Change
The Oregon Medicaid study results have received coverage with mixed opinions from mainstream news media and health care policy bloggers. A major criticism of the study is that, while the results can be used to argue that Medicaid works as health insurance, it gives little indication of how to improve the health system because the study sample was so randomized. Emily Lu, a medical student at the University of Chicago, expresses her concern that instead of quality or access to care, the study emphasized the costs of Medicaid without placing the data into context. ” The policy wonks may focus on costs and heart disease, but as a health care provider, I need to be focusing on what enables all my patients to access better health care,” Lu writes.
Mind on Medicine
In addition to serving as an information or discussion tool, social media gives patients a voice. In this instance, a patient’s husband, Cameron, approached the curator of this blog (a third-year medical student in Texas) and offered to write about his experience serving as a caregiver to his wife, Heather, during her struggle with mesothelioma soon after giving birth to their first child. Blogging provided Cameron an outlet to process the swirl of emotions he was feeling and tell the story of how medicine doesn’t stop at the doctor’s office door.
This May Hurt a Bit
Shara Yurkiewicz’s blog, ”This May Hurt a Bit,” is part of the Scientific American blog network. In it, Yurkiewicz explores the “sights, sounds, and intuitions” of a medical student. In a March 13 post, she discusses what makes a “good” patient. While emotions can run the gamut in a hospital setting, many patients make efforts to put on a brave face: ”politeness, agreeability, compliance with treatment, and the ability to understand without asking too many questions.” But when patients attempt to be “good patients,” Yurkiewicz’s concern is that positive emotions get swept under the rug as well in an effort to remain calm and controlled.
Burnt Orange Scrubs
“To Surgery or Not to Surgery” is not only the title of this post, but a thoughtful question this blogger poses when reflecting on a previous rotation. A surgery rotation can have grueling, long hours, with little time in between to study. Passion for the subject matter can overshadow the downsides to some rotations— no better time to realize a passion than when immersed in the subject matter. This student’s advice? Use each rotation not just to memorize the related material, but shadow as much as possible to get a sense for the realities of the field and contextual practice. Think about what areas of study really ignite your passion for medicine.
IHI Open School
For 10 weeks, Colleen McCormick, a medical student at Wright State University, worked with an interprofessional team on her first quality improvement project through IHI Open School. McCormick’s project focused on a palliative care initiative at a hospital in Dayton, Ohio. She and her team identified a lack of encouragement and conversation about end-of-life care in her hospital. They then designed a tool to guide care teams and patients through the process of making informed end-of-life decisions. The full 10-week blog series is chronicled here.
Loma Linda University School of Medicine Student Blog
Medical student blogs are the places to go to for insightful posts on how to make the most of the med school experience. Christine, a fourth-year medical student at Loma Linda School of Medicine, authored a detailed essay with tips for preparing for the fourth year, including suggestions on how to pick electives, cost estimates for residency application and interview travel, and other helpful tips for incoming fourth-years. The post addresses some of the more commonly asked questions related to medical school and is worth sharing with medical students who are choosing electives and prepping for their fourth year.
“Chart Review” is a monthly feature in which the editors at Wing of Zock highlight our favorite blog posts from the previous month. We focus on blogs about academic medicine, whether from the perspective of student, resident, faculty member, dean, or administrator. Medical schools and teaching hospitals provide fertile ground for innovative responses to health care challenges. We are pleased to highlight some of the best here, and hope you will send us your favorites as well.
Stay tuned July’s Chart Review. Have a blog in mind? Send your nominations to Managing Editor Jennifer Salopek at firstname.lastname@example.org.