It’s quick, it’s easy and we’ve all done it. Don’t blush, whether it’s at our leisure or behind the consultant’s back we can confess to having used the world’s sixth most popular website. You might have seen it, sitting pride of place on the podium of practically any Google result page. Of course, it’s the tell tale sign of one of Web 2.0’s speediest and most successful offspring, Wikipedia.
Now for fear of patronizing a generation who have sucked on the teat of this resource since its fledgling years, the formalities will remain delightfully short. Wikipedia is the free, multilingual, online encyclopedia, which harnesses the collective intelligence of the world’s internet users to produce a collaboratively written and openly modifiable body of knowledge. The technology it runs on is a highly flexible web application called wiki. It is open-source software; hence the explosion of wiki sites all united under the banner of combined authorship. Anyone with internet access can edit the content and do so with relative anonymity. It would be unthinkable that a source, which does not prioritize the fidelity of its content, could possibly play a role in medical education. How ironic it seems that medical students can waste hours pondering which textbook to swear their allegiance for the forthcoming rotation, yet not spare a second thought typing their next medical query into Wikipedia. Evidently it has carved itself a niche and not just among medical students, but healthcare professionals as well. According to a small qualitative study published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics, 70% of their sample, which comprised of graduates from London medical schools currently at FY2 and ST1 level, used Wikipedia in a given week for ‘clinical purposes’. These ranged from general background reading to double checking a differential and looking up medications.
We are so ensnared by the allure of instantaneous enlightenment; it’s somewhat comparable to relieving an itch. "Just Google it..." is common parlance. We need that quick fix. When the consultant asks about his or her favourite eponymous syndrome or you’re a little short on ammunition before a tutorial, the breadth and ease-of-use offered by a service accessible from our phones is a clandestine escape.
The concept of Wikipedia, the idea that its articles are in a way living bodies because of the continual editing process, is its strength. Conversely textbooks are to a degree outmoded by the time they reach their publication date. While I commend the contributors of Wikipedia for at least trying to bolster their pages with references to high impact journals, it does not soften the fact that the authorship is unverifiable. Visitors, lay people, registered members under some less than flattering pseudonyms such as Epicgenius and Mean as custard, don’t impart the sense of credibility students (or for that matter patients)expect from an encyclopedia. Since the prestige of direct authorship if off the cards, it does beg the question of what is their motivation and I’m afraid ‘the pursuit of knowledge and improving humanity’s lot' is the quaint response. There is a distinct lack of transparency. It has become a playground where a contributor can impress his/her particular theory regarding a controversial subject unchallenged. Considering there is no direct ownership of the article, who then has the authority to curate the multiple theories on offer and portray a balanced view? Does an edit war ensue? It is not unheard of for drug representatives to tailor articles detailing their product and erase the less pleasant side-effects. Obviously Wikipedia is not unguarded, defences are in place and there is such a thing as quality control. Recent changes will come under the scrutiny of more established editors, pages that are particularly prone to vandalism are vetted and there are a special breed of editors called administrators, who uphold a custodial post, blocking and banishing rebellious editors. A study featured in the First Monday journal put Wikipedia to the test by deliberately slipping minor errors into the entries of past philosophers. Within 48 hours half of these errors had been addressed. Evidently, the service has the potential to improve over time; provided there is a pool of committed and qualified editors.
Wikiproject Medicine is such a group of trusted editors composed primarily of doctors, medical students, nurses, clinical scientists and patients. Since 2004, its two hundred or so participants have graded an excess of 25,000 health-related articles according to quality parameters not dissimilar to peer review. However, the vast majority of articles are in a state of intermediate quality, somewhere between a stub and featured article. Having some degree of professional input towards a service as far reaching as Wikipedia will no doubt have an impact on global health, particularly in developing countries where internet access is considered a luxury.
March this year saw the medical pages of the English Wikipedia reach a lofty 249,386,264 hits. Its ubiquity is enviable; it maintains a commanding lead over competing medical websites. The accessibility of this information has catapulted Wikipedia far beyond its scope as a humble encyclopedia and into a medical resource. Patients arrive to clinics armed with the printouts. As future doctors we will have to be just that one step ahead, to recognise the limitations of a source that does not put a premium on provenance but is nevertheless the current public health tool of choice.
Illustrator Edward Wong
This blog post is a reproduction of an article published in the Medical Student Newspaper, November 2013 issue.
A resource made to accompany an RLO on peri-arrest arrhythmias I designed as part of my Doctors as Teachers project at Peninsula. It describes the assessment and management of peri-arrest arrhythmias as well as pharmacology of certain drugs used in their management. Hope you find it useful x
The handy guide comprises a series of 5 short videos explaining different aspects of anaemia.
The videos show my hands displaying cardboard cut outs of pictures I drew to explain the story of anaemia, an idea which I thought might make the information more memorable for students.
“There is nothing new under the sun” - Ecclesiastes 1:4-11.
If any of you have read one of my blogs before you will have realised that I am a huge fan of books.
The blog I am writing today is also about a book, but more than that, it is about an idea. The idea is simple, practical and nothing especially new. It is an idea that many call common sense but few call common practice. It is an idea that has been used in every sort of organisation for over 20 years. It is an idea that needs to be applied on a greater scale to the health service.
The idea is not new. How the book is written is not new. But how the book explains the idea and applies it to healthcare is new and it will change how you view the health service. It is a revolutionary book.
The book is called “Pride and Joy” by Alex Knight view here.
How I came to read this book is a classic story of a Brownian motion (a chance encounter), leading to an altered life trajectory. The summer before starting medical school I was working as a labourer cleaning out a chaps guttering. During a tea break in the hot summer sun he asked me what I was going to study at Uni. As soon as I said “Medicine”, he said “then you need to come see this”.
He took me into his office and showed me a presentation he had given the year before about a hospital in Ireland. He was a management consultant and had been applying a management theory he had learned while working in industry. With his help the hospital had managed to reduce waiting times by a huge amount. The management theory he was applying is called "The Theory of Constraints" (TOC).
I thought that his presentation was fascinating and I could not understand why it was not more widely applied. I went away and read the books he suggested and promised that I would stay in touch.
Four years later and I had been exposed to enough of the clinical environment to realise that something needs to change in how the health service is run. To this end, a couple of colleagues and myself founded the Birmingham Medical Leadership society (BMLS) with help from the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM). The aim of which is to help healthcare students and professionals understand the systems they are working in.
The first thing I did after founding the society was contact that friendly management consultant and ask him for his advice on what we should cover. He immediately put me in contact with QFI consulting, @QFIConsulting.
This small firm has been working with hospitals all over the world to implement this simple theory called the Theory of Constraints. They were absolutely fantastic and within 2 emails had promised to come to Birmingham to run a completely free workshop for our society’s members.
The workshop was on March 8th at Birmingham Medical School. Through our society’s contacts we managed to encourage 15 local students to take a revision break to attend the workshop on a sunny Saturday. We were also able to find 11 local registrars/ consultants who wanted to improve their management knowledge. It just so happens that the chap leading this workshop was Mr Alex Knight. The workshop sparked all of our interests and when he mentioned that he had just written a book, pretty much the whole crowd asked for a copy.
When I got my copy, I thought I would leave it to read for after my end of year exams. However, I got very bored a few days before the first written paper and needed a revision break – so I decided that reading a few pages here and there wouldn't hurt. Trouble was that this book was a page turner and I soon couldn't put it down.
I won’t spoil the book for all of you out there, who I hope will read it. I shall just say that if you are interested in healthcare, training to work in healthcare, already work in healthcare or just want a riveting book to read by the pool then you really should read it. The basic premise is that healthcare is getting more expensive and yet there appears to be an increase in the number of healthcare crises'. So if more money isn't making healthcare better, then maybe it is time to try a different approach.
“Marketing is what you do when your product is no good” – Edward Land, inventor of the Polaroid Camera.
Mr Land was a wise man and I can happily say that I have no conflict of interest in writing this blog. I have not been promised anything in return for this glowing review. The only reason that I have written this is because I believe it is important for people to have a greater understanding of how the health service works and what we can do to make it even better!
As a very junior healthcare professional, there is not much that we can do on a practical level but that does not mean we are impotent. We can still share best practice and show our enthusiasm for new approaches.
Healthcare students and professionals, if you care about how your service works and you want to help make it better. Please find a copy of this book and read it. It won’t take you long and I promise that it will have an impact on you.
NB - Note all of the folded down corners. These pages have something insightful that I want to read again... there are a lot of folded pages!
So, I think its about time I posted another blog post!
A few weeks ago I received the results from my most recent scan. I was both nervous and excited to find out my results, after months of tests and being misdiagnosed several times I just wanted to know what was wrong with me. However, as I read through the letter from my consultant I realised that my journey was just beginning. I was diagnosed with a rare stomach condition.
Gastroparesis. A chronic illness. There is no known cure, just various treatments with limited success. I didn’t really know how to react to this news. Shouldn’t I be happy that I finally knew what was wrong?
I had convinced myself for months that as soon as the doctors found out what was wrong, they could fix it and I’d be better in no time, but this wasn’t to be. I couldn’t understand how this could happen. Slowly the reality began to sink in, I’ll probably be fighting this battle for the rest of my life.
I think the mental aspect of chronic conditions is so commonly overlooked. I’ve sat through endless lectures about the pathophysiology of illnesses but I’ve never once stopped to think what it must be like to actually have it. The way it can limit your life, from not being able to go for a drink with friends because you’re in too much pain to the countless hospital appointments that your life seems to revolve around. The thing that hit me the most is the amount of medications I have to take on a daily basis just to make my symptoms bearable. I no longer have full control of my life and that's the worst part.
This experience has given me an invaluable insight into how patients with chronic illness feel. It affects almost every aspect of your life and you can never escape. It scares me to think of the future, I never know when I’m going to get my next flare up or how long its going to last. I just have to take one day at a time and hope that when I wake up tomorrow I won’t be too nauseous.
After spending a few weeks feeling down about it all, I’ve realised that I just have to enjoy life when I can and be grateful that I can still live a normal-ish life. It doesn’t matter how much I complain, it's not going to go away, and I think I’ve finally accepted that fact.
If anything, this experience has made me more determined to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. I’ve been a lot more motivated to work harder so that one day I can help others like me through some of their toughest times, hopefully bringing them some comfort and relief.
In the lead up to finals time our latest podcast could be really useful for your practical sessions
In it we discuss how you will get the best out of presenting findings to an examiner in a medical student final OSCE or VIVA situation
These situations can be stressful and if you dont think about your presentation [...]
Anatomy and pathology of the nervous system is understood by directly visualizing it. This is best accomplished by handling the brain (or model of the brain as the case may be) and dissecting or taking it apart for direct examination. The purpose (for the clinician) of understanding neuroanatomy and neurophysiology is to be able to use that knowledge to solve clinical problems. The first step in solving a clinical problem is anatomical localization. So, if one cannot directly inspect the patient's brain, how is this localization accomplished? The "window" to the patient's brain is the neurological examination. The neuro exam is a series of tests and observations that reflects the function of various parts of the brain. If the exam is approached in a systematic and logical fashion that is organized in terms of anatomical levels and systems then the clinician is lead to the anatomical location of the patient's problem.
There are various triangles of the neck, largely divided by the sternocleidomastoid muscle to form anterior and posterior triangles. Some triangles are more 'important' that others, and this simplified visual mnemonic hopes to emphasises this.
I’m sure there are times when all us GPs feel under-appreciated — by our patients, staff, specialist colleagues or society in general. You can’t blame them for sometimes taking us for granted — it’s part of the human condition. People don’t value what they have until they lose it, whether “it” is the ability to walk or a domestic fairy who makes sure there’s always spare toilet paper.
It’s a common lament that we can’t be at our own funerals to hear how much we’re loved. Mind you, eulogies are rarely objective and balanced. Nonetheless, it’s a pity we’re not around to hear the praise — deserved or otherwise — that is expressed once we’re gone.
The long-serving, somewhat-taken-for-granted GP has a non-fatal way of bringing out the appreciation in his or her patients and staff: moving on.
After 10 years of GP-ing in the Noosa hinterland and a lifetime of living in south-east Queensland, I headed south of the border: to northern NSW. The hardest part of the move for me — harder than selling my house in a depressed market, harder than dealing with banks, builders, real estate agents, solicitors and Australia Post, harder even than trying to get rational answers out of my telecommunications company after they cut off my internet and phone prematurely — was telling my patients that I was leaving.
I knew many of my patients were very attached. I knew they’d come to me expecting to receive a loyal, life-long partner kind of doctoring, rather than the one-night-stand variety. But I had no idea how difficult it would be to break the “I’m leaving you” news again and again and again.
Hard as breaking up a relationship may be, at least you only have to do it once when you leave a romantic partnership. For me, telling patients I was leaving felt a bit like breaking up with hundreds of boyfriends, one after the other after the other.
You may interpret this as my being too close to my patients or not close enough to my boyfriends, but the fact is I found the protracted process exhausting, emotionally draining and just plain horrible. The “it’s not you, it’s me” part goes without saying and
I know I am far from irreplaceable, but seeing the tears well up in countless eyes because of the words I’ve uttered was enough to break my tender heart.
Looking on the bright side, as I am wont to do, if I’d ever felt under-appreciated, I sure don’t now. I received more expressions of gratitude in those last three months than I did in the previous decade. To hear how influential I was in some of my patients’ lives put a warm glow in my battered heart. And as much as it hurt me to see my patients upset, it probably would’ve hurt me more if they’d been completely indifferent to my leaving.
However, I did please someone. Mrs L had been trying for years to get her husband to agree to move interstate to be near family. His last remaining excuse was that his multiple complex medical problems meant that he couldn’t possibly leave me, his long-term GP. A grateful Mrs L rang me within hours of my informing them of my impending departure to say:
“He’s finally come around. Thank you so much for deciding to leave us.”
It’s nice to be appreciated!
(This blog post has been adapted from a column first published in Australian Doctor www.australiandoctor.com.au/opinions/the-last-word/the-last-word-on-moving-on- )
Dr Genevieve Yates is an Australian GP, medical educator, medico-legal presenter and writer. You can read more of her work at http://genevieveyates.com/
It is understandable why resume writing is daunting for most students – they haven’t achieved many significant things at such young age and they have difficulties to present usual things as something extraordinary. However, you shouldn’t give up on your efforts, because you will be surprised by all things your potential employers consider valuable. All you have to do is find the right way to demonstrate your achievements and relate them to the job you are applying for.
The following tips will help you write a great resume that will represent you as an ideal candidate for every employer.
1. Start the process by listing your experiences. You cannot tackle the challenge right where it gets most difficult, so you should gradually work your way towards the precise professional language. Start with brainstorming and create a list of all experiences you consider significant. You can draw experiences from all life aspects, such as school, academic activities, internships, prior employments, community service, sports, and whatever else you consider important. Look at that list and distinguish the most motivating experiences that led you to the point where you currently are.
2. Target the resume towards the job. Sending the same generic resume to all potential employers is a common mistake students do. You should tailor a custom-written resume for each job application, representing experiences and skills that will be relevant for the position you’re applying for.
3. Present yourself as a dynamic person. Find the most active components of your experiences and present them in the resume. Focus on action verbs, because they are attention-grabbing and make powerful statements (trained, evaluated, taught, researched, organized, led, oriented, calculated, interviewed, wrote, and so on).
4. Mark the most notable elements of your experiences and use them to start your descriptions. An employer couldn’t care less about the mundane aspects of college or internships, so feel free to leave them out and highlight your persona as a professional who would be a great choice for an employee.
5. Show what you can do for the organization. Employers are only looking for candidates who can contribute towards the growth of their companies, so make sure to portray yourself as someone who can accomplish great things in the role you are applying for. You can do this by reviewing your experiences and highlighting any success you achieved, no matter how small it is.
6. Don’t forget that your most important job at the moment is being a student. While you’re a student, that’s the most important aspect of your life and you should forget to mention that you are an engaged learner in your resume. Include the high GPA and the achievements in your major as important information in your resume.
7. Describe the most important academic projects. At this stage of life, you don’t have many professional experiences to brag about, but your academic projects can also be included in your resume because they show your collaborative, critical thinking, research, writing, and presentation skills.
8. Present yourself as a leader. If you were ever engaged as a leader in a project, make sure to include the information about recruiting and organizing your peers, as well as training, leading, and motivating them.
9. Include information about community service. If all students knew that employers appreciate community service as an activity that shows that the person has matured and cares for the society, they wouldn’t underestimate it so much. Make sure to include information about your activities as a volunteer – your potential employers will definitely appreciate it.
10. Review before you submit! Your resume will require some serious reviewing before you can send it safely to employers. This isn’t the place where you can allow spelling and grammatical errors to slip through. The best advice would be to hire a professional editor to bring this important document to perfection.
One of the most important things to remember is that writing a great resume requires a lot of time and devotion. Make sure to follow the above-listed steps, and you will make the entire process less daunting.
Maybe it’s just me, but I cannot get my head around pharmacology and antibiotics are certainly doing their best to finish me off! My group at uni decided that this was one area that we needed to revise, and the task fell on my hands to provide the material for a revision session. So, the night before the session I began to panic about how to come up with any useful tips for my group, or indeed anyone at all, to try to remember anything useful about antibiotics at all. If only Paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin was a real drug, it would make our lives so much easier. Come on Adam Kay and Suman Biswas, get the trials started and create your wonderful super drug. For the mean time I guess I will just have to keep blissfully singing along to your song. However, that is not going to help me with my task in hand.
After a lot of research that even took me beyond the realms of Wikipedia (something I do not often like to do), I found various sources suggesting remembering these Top 10 Rules (and their exceptions)
All cell wall inhibitors are ?-lactams (except vancomycin)
All penicillins are water soluble (nafcillin)
All protein synthesis inhibitors are bacteriostatic (aminoglycosides)
All cocci are Gram positive (Neisseria spp.)
All bacilli are Gram negative (anthrax, tetanus, botulism, diptheria)
All spirochetes are Gram negative
Tetracyclines and macrolides are used for intracellular bacteria
Pregnant women should not take tetracyclines, aminoglycosides,
fluroquinolones, or sulfonamides
Antibiotics beginning with a ‘C’ are particularly associated with
While the penicillins are the most famous for causing allergies, people may also react to cephalosporins
If those work for you, then I guess you can stop reading now… If they don’t, I can’t promise that I have anything better, but give these other tips that I found a whirl… Alternatively, I have created a Page on my own blog called Rang and Dale’s answer to Antibiotics, which summarises their information, so please take a look at that.
Most people will suggest that you can categorise antibiotics in three ways, and it’s best to pick one and learn examples of them.
Mode of action:
bacteriostatic (stop multiplying)
2 mnemonics to potentially help you remember examples:
We’re ECSTaTiC about bacteriostatics?
Erythromycin Clindamycin Sulphonamides Tetracyclines Trimethoprim
Very Finely Proficient At Cell Murder (bactericidal) - Vancomycin Fluroquinolones Penicillins Aminoglycosides Cephalosporins
Spectrum of activity:
broad-spectrum (gram positive AND negative)
narrow (gram positive OR negative)
Mechanism of action
Inhibit cell wall synthesis
Inhibit nucleic acid synthesis
Inhibit protein synthesis
Inhibit cell membrane synthesis
If you have any more weird and wonderful ways to remember antibiotics, let me
know and I will add them! As always, thank you for reading.