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Medical students and professionals sharing their thoughts and experiences.
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Developing Resilience at Work

Don't wait for others to change things for you, do what you can now, especially if that means stopping.  
Dr Dee Gray
almost 3 years ago
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Being Black in America is Bad for Your Health

Being Black in America is dangerous. We hear about the deaths by police shooting or white supremacist - and by gun violence generally, which disproportionately plagues Black communities. But we hardly ever discuss the persistent discrepancy in life expectancy between white and black. There are many ways to attack the latter through healthcare policy and practice -- if we are willing. That remains the question for America 48 years after King was killed.  
Andrew Tarsy
almost 3 years ago
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Doctors’ Rotas: The Jokes, The Incompetence and The Illegal

Have you ever felt an organisation was treating you as another cog in a machine? Welcome to junior doctors' rotas  
jacob matthews
over 2 years ago
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Machine Learning in Medicine.

It is important to understand how machine learning helps patients and healthcare staff.  
Deleted User
over 2 years ago
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Machine Learning in Medicine.

It is important to understand how machine learning helps patients and healthcare staff.  
Deleted User
over 4 years ago
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Machine Learning in Medicine.

It is important to understand how machine learning helps patients and healthcare staff.  
Deleted User
over 4 years ago
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Machine Learning in Medicine.

It is important to understand how machine learning helps patients and healthcare staff.  
Deleted User
almost 3 years ago
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Machine Learning in Medicine.

It is important to understand how machine learning helps patients and healthcare staff.  
Deleted User
over 2 years ago
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Machine Learning in Medicine.

It is important to understand how machine learning helps patients and healthcare staff.  
Deleted User
over 2 years ago
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Machine Learning in Medicine.

It is important to understand how machine learning helps patients and healthcare staff.  
Dr Alastair Buick
about 1 year ago
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The Medical Education Fraud

Does spending more time on the wards as medical students actually produce more competent junior doctors?  
jacob matthews
over 2 years ago
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Introducing Confidence

We've launched Confidence - a free exam room for medical students with over 3,500 questions and explanations written by expert educators.  
Jeremy Walker
almost 3 years ago
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A plea following the death of my partner

A Pecha Kucha talk (400 second video). I hope that by sharing my personal story in this way, it will help raise awareness of unfit drivers and the responsibilities involved when assessing fitness to drive.  
Dr Genevieve Yates
about 3 years ago
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Another Way Down Under

A snapshot of how I ended up starting my "FY3" in Australia teaching anatomy to medical students and the lessons I have learnt along the way. I hope this will help current foundation year trainees consider something a little different...  
Dr. Luke Farmery
almost 3 years ago
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Neuropsychiatry's Fuzzy Borderlands

In NeuroPsychiatry it might be difficult to locate its territory, and find its niche. This might be an uneasy endeavour as its two parent branches neurology and psychiatry are still viable, also it siblings organic psychiatry, behavioural neurology and biological psychiatry are also present. This blogpost attempts to search for the definition and domains of neuropsychiatry. Neuropsychiatry can be defined as the 'biologic face' of mental health (Royal Melbourne Hospital, Neuropsychiatry unit). It is the neurological aspects of psychiatry and the psychiatric aspects of neurology (Pacific Neurpsychiatry Institute). It is not a new term. Many physicians used to brand themselves as neuropsychiatrists at the rise of the twentieth century. It has been looked upon with a sense of unease as a hybrid branch. Also, it was subject to pejorative connotations, as the provenance of amateurs in both parent disciplines (Lishman, 1987). The foundational claim is that 'all' mental disorders are disorders of the brain' (Berrios and Marková, 2002). The American NeuroPsychiatric Association (ANPA) defines it as 'the integrated study of psychiatric and neurologic disorders' (ANPA, 2013). The overlap between neuropsychiatry and biological psychiatry was observed (Trimble and George, 2010) as the domain of enquiry of the first and the approach of the second will meet at point. Berrios and Marková seemed to have focused on the degree of conversion among biological psychiatry, organic psychiatry, neuropsychiatry and behavioural neurology. They stated that they share the same foundational claims (FCcs): (1) mental disorder is a disorder of the brain; (2) reasons are not good enough as causes of mental disorder; and (3) biological psychiatry and its congeners have the patrimony of scientific truth. They further elaborated that the difference is primarily due to difference in historic origins. (D'haenen et al., 2002). The American Neuropsychiatric Association (ANPA) defines neuropsychiatry as the integrative study of neurological and psychiatric disorders on a clinical level, on a theoretical level; ANPA defines it as the bridge between neuroscience and clinical practice. The interrelation between both specialities is adopted by The Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists as it defines it as a psychiatric subspeciality. This seems to resonate the concept that 'biologisation' of psychiatry is inevitable (Sachdev and Mohan, 2013). The definition according to Gale Encyclopedia encompasses the interface between the two disciplines (Fundukian and Wilson, 2008). In order to acknowledge the wide use of the term 'neuropsychiatry'; the fourth edition of Lishman's Organic Psychiatry, appeared and it was renamed as 'textbook of neuropsychiatry'. The editor stated that the term is not used in its more restrictive sense (David, 2009). Ostow backtracked the origin of biological causes for illness to humoral view of temperament.In the nineteenth century, the differentiation between both did not seem to be apparent. The schism seems to have emerged in the twentieth century. The difficulties that arose with such early adoption of neuronal basis to psychiatric disorders are that they were based on on unsubstantiated beliefs and wild logic rather than scientific substance. (Panksepp, 2004). Folstein stated that Freud and Charcot postulated psychological and social roots for abnormal behaviours, thus differentiating neurology from psychiatry. (David, 2009). The separation may have lead to alienation of doctors on both camps and helped in creating an arbitary division in their scope of knowledge and skills. The re-emergence of interest in neurospsychiatry has been described to be due to the growing sense of discomfort in the lack of acknowledgment of brain disorders when considering psychiatric symptoms (Arciniegas and Beresford, 2001). There is considerable blurring regarding defining the territory and the boundaries of neuropsychiatry. The Royal College of Psychiatrists founded section of Neuropsychiatry in 2008. The major working groups include epilepsy, sleep disorders, brain injury and complex neurodisability. In 1987 the British NeuroPsychiatry Association was established, to address the professional need for distinction, without adopting the concept of formal affiliation with parent disciplinary bodies as the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The ANPA was founded in 1988. It issued training guide for residents. The guide included neurological and psychiatric assessments, interpretation of EEG and brain imaging techniques. With regards to the territory, it included delirium, dementia, psychosis, mood and anxiety disorders due to general medical condition. Neurpsychiatric aspects of psychopharmacologic treatments, epilepsy, neuropsychiatric aspects of traumatic brain injury and stroke. The diagnosis of movement disorders, neurobehavioural disorders, demyelinating disease, intellectual and developmental disorders, as well as sleep disorders was also included. The World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) was established in Buenos Aires in 1974 to address the rising significance of biological psychiatry and to join local national societies together. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is currently working on a biologically-based diagnosis, that incorporates neural circuits, cells, molecules to behavioural changes. The diagnostic system - named 'Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) - is agnostic to current classification systems DSM-5 & ICD-10. Especially that the current diagnostic classficiations are mostly based on descriptive rather than neurobiological aetiological basis. (Insel et al., 2010). For example, the ICD-10 F-Code designates the first block to Organic illness, however, it seems to stop short of localisation of the cause of illness apart from the common prefix organic. It also addresses adverse drug events as tardive dyskinesia but stops short of describing it neural correlates. Also, psychosocial roots of mental illness seem to be apparent in aetiologically-based diagnoses as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, acute stress reaction, and adjustment disorders, the diagnostic cluster emphasise the necessity of having 'stress'. Other diagnoses seem to draw from the psychodynamic literature, e.g. conversion[dissociative] disorder. The need for neuropsychiatry, has been increasing as the advances in diagnostic imaging and laboratory investigations became more clinically relevant. Nowadays, there are tests as DaT-Scan that can tell the difference between neurocognitive disorder with Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's Disease. Vascular neurocognitive disorders warrant imaging as the rule rather than the exception, vascular depression has been addressed is a separate entity. Frontal Lobe Syndromes have been subdivided into orbitofrontal and dorsolateral (Moore,2008) Much training is needed to address this subspeciality. The early cases that may have stirred up the neurological roots of psychiatric disorders can be backdated to the case of Phineas Gage, and later, the case H.M. The eearlier fruits of adopting a neuropsychiatric perspective can be shown in the writings of Eliot Slater, as he attempted to search for the scientific underpinnings of psychiatry, and helped via seminal articles to highlight the organic aspect of psychiatry. Articles like 'The diagnosis of "Hysteria", where Slater, challenged the common wisdom of concepts like hysteria and conversion, rejecting the social roots of mental illness, and presenting a very strong case for the possibility of organicity, and actual cases of for which 'hysteria' was a plain misdiagnosis was way ahead of its time prior to CT Brain. Slater even challenged the mere existence of the concept of 'hysteria. (Slater, 1965) Within the same decade Alwyn Lishman published his textbook 'Organic Psychiatry' addressing the organic aspects of psychiatric disorders. Around the same time, the pioneers of social/psychological roots of mental illness became under attack. Hans Eysenck, published his book 'Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire'. Eysenck stated clearly that the case of Anna O. seems to have been mispresented and that she never had 'hysteria' and recovered she actually had 'tuberculous meningitis' and she died of its complications (Eysenck, 1986). To summarise, it seems difficult and may be futile to sharply delineate neurpsychiatry, biological psychiatry, organic psychiatry and behavioural neurology. However, it seems important to learn about the biological psychiatry as an approach and practice neuropsychiatry as a subspeciality. The territory is yet unclear from gross organic lesions as stroke to the potential of encompassing entire psychiatry as the arbitary distinction between 'functional' and 'organic' fades away. Perhaps practice will help to shape the domain of the speciality, and imaging will guide it. To date, the number of post-graduate studies are still low in comparison to the need for such speciality, much more board certification may be needed as well as the currently emerging masters and doctoral degrees. This post is previously posted on bmj doc2doc blogs Bibliography Eysenck, H.J., Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire, Pelican Series, 1986 German E Berrios, I.S.M., The concept of neuropsychiatry: A historical overview, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2002, Vol. 53, pp. 629-638 Kieran O’Driscoll, J.P.L., “No longer Gage”: an iron bar through the head, British Medical Journal, 1998, Vol. 317, pp. 1637-1638 Perminder S. Sachdev, A.M., Neuropsychiatry: Where Are We And Where Do We Go From Here?, Mens Sana Monographs, 2013, Vol. 11(1), pp. 4-15 Slater, E., The Diagnosis of "Hysteria", British Medical Journal, 1965, Vol. 5447(1), pp. 1395–1399 Thomas Insel, Bruce Cuthbert, R.H.M.G.K.Q.C.S.P.W., Research Domain Criteria (RDoC): Toward a New Classification Framework for Research on Mental Disorders, American Journal of Psychiatry, 2010, Vol. 167:7, pp. 748-751 Organic Psychiatry, Anthony S. David, Simon Fleminger, M. D. K. S. L. J. D. M. (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell, 2009 Neuropsychiatry an introductory approach, Arciniegas & Beresford (ed.), Cambridge University Press, 2001 Biological Psychiatry, Hugo D’haenen, J.A. den Boer, P. W. (ed.), John Wiley and Sons, 2010 Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health, Laurie J. Fundukian, J. W. (ed.), Thomson Gale, 2008 Biological Psychiatry, M. Trimble, M. G. (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell, 2010 Textbook of Neuropsychiatry, Moore, D. P. (ed.), Hodder Arnold, 2008 Textbook of Biological Psychiatry, Panksepp, J. (ed.), John Wiley and Sons, 2004 The American Neuropsychiatric Association Website www.anpaonline.org The Royal Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Unit Website http://www.neuropsychiatry.org.au/ The British Neuropsychiatry Association website www.bnpa.org.uk The Royal College of Psychiatrists website www.rcpsych.ac.uk The World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry website www.wfsbp.org  
Dr Emad Sidhom
about 4 years ago
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Pennyless Med Students: Medical student finance FARCE

There are roughly 7000 medical students graduating each year from 33 medical schools in the UK. Medical degrees take either 4, 5 or 6 years depending on the route you take. The government via the Student Finance Company will pay for your tuition fees for the first 4 years of any undergraduate degree. After this the NHS will pay for the last year or 2 years of the undergraduate medical tuition fees. The maintenance loan depends on family income. The figures aren’t easy to find for the background of most UK medical students but a ‘guestimate’ based on my medical school is that 50% went to a private school, 30% went to selective state schools and 20% went to a comprehensive. Of the private school kids probably about half had a scholarship or bursary. So, a rough guess would be that 70% of med students come from a “middle class” family who have a decent income but not huge wealth and are therefore eligible for a ‘maintenance loan’ above the minimum. This majority therefore rely on there loan to get through the year. An average student income is between £1000 and £1500/term (£1200 average-ish). Most university terms are 10 weeks, hence average income is about £120/week. As a preclinical medical student this is fine and we are on par with everyone else. As soon as we become clinical med students the game changes! Clinical years are far longer, more like 40 weeks a year rather than 30. Students are on placement, have to dress professionally and travel to placement daily. This adds additional costs and requires the money to stretch further. Doubly bad! Once, the NHS starts paying the tuition fees, the Student Loans Company starts reducing the maintenance loan, by half! Why? A final year student or a 4th year who has intercalated now has to survive at University for one of their course’s longest years with half the money they had previously. >40 weeks on a loan of roughly £1500/year. This situation is pretty much unique to medical students. Some students are lucky enough to have parents who can afford the extra couple of thousand pounds required for the year. Some students get selected into the military and get a salary. A greater proportion find part time jobs to help cover the cost and the rest have to resort to saving money where they can and taking out loans. When I was a member of the BMA medical student committee I did a project as part of the finance sub-committee investigating the loans available for medical students. Many banks used to “professional development loans” which allowed medical and law students to borrow money for a year before they had to start repaying the loan. Hardly any banks now offer this service, so the only loan available is an overdraft or a standard loan that requires you to have a regular income. This means that final year medical students with limited family support may have to live for a year on less than £2000. Does this seem fair? Does this seem sensible government policy? Medical students are 99% guaranteed to be earning over £25 thousand pounds within a year. We will be able to repay any loans. So why isn’t the Student Loan Company allowing us to continue having a ‘normal’ maintenance loan? And why aren’t banks giving us the benefit of the doubt and helping us out in our time of need? When I was on the BMA MSC there was talk of having a campaign to lobby government and the banks to rectify this situation but I can’t say I’ve been aware of any such campaign. Are the NUS, BMA, UKMSA or anyone else doing anything about this? Please do leave a comment if you do know if there has been a progress and if there hasn’t why don’t we start making a fuss about this!  
jacob matthews
about 4 years ago
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The NHS should care … for it's staff

The NHS is one of the largest employers in the world. It is one of the largest healthcare providers in the world and it is one of the most loved and needed institutions in this country. The downsides to the NHS is that it is constantly ‘in crisis’ and it is expected to provide better care and newer treatments with less money and not enough staff. Recently, this has caused a significant drop in staff morale and the beginnings of an exodus of trained staff out of the NHS. This needs to be addressed. If you read almost any management textbook, journal article or magazine, they will tell you that happy staff perform better. This ethos is easy to theorise but less easy to practice. Companies like Google and Apple have taken this to heart but so did some of the old Victorian companies like Cadbury’s and Roundtree. These companies aimed to make a profit but also to invest and look after their staff because of moral and economic principles… and it worked. I believe the NHS needs to embrace this old fashioned paternalistic concept, if it wishes to continue to be a world leader in excellent, affordable healthcare and professional training. If the NHS invests in its staff now, it will increase staff morale, encourage people to stay working in the NHS and ensure top quality patient care. The reforms Staff canteens open 24/7 (or near enough), that serve good quality, healthy and affordable food. If staff have to work unsociable shifts, it seems unfair not to provide them with the chance to eat a healthy meal at 2am rather than a Domino's. Staff canteens also allow the staff to unwind and socialise away from the wards and the public, they can be unofficial hubs of productivity where the 'real business' takes place away from the meetings. Staff rooms with free tea and coffee - it doesn't cost much and every appreciates a 'cuppa'. A** crèche** for the children of staff, on site or nearby. Reduces the stress of having to take children to carers and pick them up, allows greater flexibility for the staff. Free staff car parking (if they car share). Staff have to get to work and cars are the most practical way for most people, so why punish them by charging car parking? An onsite gym that is free/reduced price for staff and open 24/7 so that staff can pop in around their various shifts. The physio gym could just be expanded so patients and staff use the same facilities. Providing healthcare is stressful, takes long hours and is antisocial. All these factors make it easy to put on weight, especially with most hospitals only providing unhealthy meals, Costa and Gregs. So, an onsite gym would make it a lot more convenient for the staff to get the exercise they need to burn off all that stress and calories. Healthier, happier staff! A hospital/ centre social society like a student ‘MedSoc’ to organise staff socials and sports teams etc. This organisation could even organise special events for the staff like a summer ball or sports day. Anything fun that would bring the staff together and let them blow off steam. It could easily incorporate, elected officials from the professional bodies and elected representatives of the different employees and act as an unofficial staff voice. Regular staff forums that allow each group of employees to raise concerns or solutions to problems with the organisations management and senior staff. Staff rota’s should not just be imposed by management but should be organised in a flexible manner that allows staff input. The NHS management should encourage and provide extra learning opportunities for the staff. By investing in staff education they provide people with opportunities to develop them selves which will benefit the organisation and increase their sense of satisfaction with what they are doing. Team based points systems for good performance and regular rewards for excellent care. These points systems can then be used to promote competition between teams which should raise the level of care. Have a monthly leader board and reward the best team with a day at a spa or something. These changes may hark back to ideas that are out of favour now with the increased desires for measured ‘efficiency’, but I believe that these suggestions would hugely increase staff well being, which would hopefully improve their attitudes towards the organisation they work for and would hence make them happier and less stressed when they are caring for patients. If you have any other suggestions for improving staff wellbeing please do leave comments. The NHS is enormous and has a huge variety. It would be fascinating to survey as many parts of it as possible and see how many places have these services available for the staff already. Please feel free to contact me if you know of any study like this or if you are keen of setting up a study like this with me.  
jacob matthews
about 4 years ago
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Clinical Exam Still Matters

After I retired from my academic position at the University of Miami, I started working as an intermittent ob & gyn in various cultural settings in the US and abroad. In 2006 I practiced in a hospital in New Zealand. I saw many interesting cases during my six months at Whangarei Hospital. One stands out in particular. This was a middle aged native Mauri woman who had been seeing her family doctor for several years because she was gaining too much weight, her abdomen was getting bigger, and she was constipated. Each time the family doctor saw her, he did not examine her but patted her on the back and encouraged her to eat less, eat more fruit and vegetables and be more active so that she would lose weight. When much later he finally examined her, he noticed a large tumor in her abdomen and referred her to the hospital. To make a long story short, we operated on her and removed a large ovarian cyst weighing more than 18 kilograms (about 40 pounds). This cyst fortunately turned out to be benign and the woman did well. The operation itself was something else as we needed an extra assistant to hold the tumor in her arms while we removed it without breaking it. Even though this large tumor was certainly not a record, we ended up publishing the case in a New Zealaned medical journal for family practice (see reference below), not so much for the nature of the tumor itself as for pointing out to family doctors (all doctors, in fact) that examining patients before giving them advice is most important. Alison Gale, Tommy Cobb, Robert Norelli, William LeMaire. Increasing Abdominal Girth. The Importance of Clinical Examination. New Zealand Family Physician. 2006; 33 (4): 250-252  
DR William LeMaire
about 4 years ago
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Dying to do an expedition

As a hospital doctor, surgeon or GP we encounter death frequently. We quickly learn to cope. It helps when we know that we have done everything within our power to prevent death. When death is close we have the ability, medication and specialists services to make the process as 'comfortable' as possible. In the final moments it is rare that the patient is alone; whether in the company of family, friends or health care professionals. When an individual dies on expedition it may have been avoidable, you have very little kit to prevent it, they may be alone and they probably were your friend. No one prepares you for the potential of a client dying. But it happens. First of all, I am not trying to put you off doing an expedition. I love expedition medicine and have dedicated the last five years of my life to it. But I was not prepared for my first near death experience and I want to make sure you are. AVOIDABLE DEATHS During an expedition injuries, near misses and deaths are sometimes avoidable. There may have been a faulty bit of kit, medication which wasn't packed or route marker that fell down ... Hindsight is a wonderful thing. You, the team and the organisers work within what is feasible and normal health and safety don't and can't apply. I am NOT saying it is ok to be negligent, but a degree of pragmatism is need. What you need to remember is the competitors/ clients are aware of the dangers and, as medics, we should be too. LIMITED KIT Many medics are shocked by the lack of kit taken on expedition. But you need to think about the environment you are in and then think rationally. If your nearest decompression chamber is 3 days away by boat, is there much point taking oxygen on a diving expedition? If you are on expedition in the middle of the jungle is there any point taking a defib if any client in need of a defib is unlikely to survive extrication. You have to work within the limits of your environment and with the kit you have. As the medic you need to be aware of the nearest hospital and their facilities, the nearest large hospital with surgical and ITU facilities and the casevac plan. THE CLIENTS During expeditions the clients often become good friends. You will experience their highs and lows and share incredible experiences. This makes it especially hard when unfortunate events occur. At this point our role as medic often broadens to counsellor and bereavement officer. The other clients, organisers and medics need support during this time. Try to start this process whilst you are out there. Even with near misses, the psychological effect on people can be huge. Signs and symptoms are generally easy to spot, but screen for them at clinics. Be aware during race events that grief may manifest though clients pulling out, loss of performance and increased injuries due to lack of sleep, low mood or poor concentration. No matter what happens when you are on expedition my advice is; you can only work within your skill set and with the equipment you have. As a foundation doctor, if you’re faced with an unresponsive client - you are not expected to perform RSI and intubate. Work through your ABCDE and work within your limitations. If you would like to suggest any other blog topics or have any questions please post below.  
Dr Rachel Saunders
over 4 years ago

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