Virtual Reality is the Future of Medicine

What does it really feel like to manage an emergency in the operating room? The Cleveland Clinic Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery is using virtual reality (VR) simulations of OR cardiac emergencies to replicate the experience as closely as possible and train cardiac surgery residents. “The two-minute video shows how Cleveland Clinic is using virtual reality scenarios to teach cardiac surgery residents how to maintain ideal performance under the pressure of OR crises.” The VR simulations incorporate scenarios from real operations to create an immersive, realistic, 360-degree experience that includes the viewpoints of multiple members of the surgical team. The scenarios map right decisions, wrong decisions, and their consequences. This video, narrated by Douglas Johnston, MD, the cardiac surgeon who heads the program, shows the scenario of a patient who has gone into ventricular fibrillation as seen through the VR headset of a surgical resident. From the study on pubmed.gov: The traditional system of clinical education in emergency medicine relies on practicing diagnostic, therapeutic, and procedural skills on live patients. The ethical, financial, and practical weaknesses of this system are well recognized, but the alternatives that have been explored to date have shown even greater flaws. However, ongoing progress in the area of virtual reality and computer-enhanced simulation is now providing educational applications that show tremendous promise in overcoming most of the deficiencies associated with live-patient training. It will...

Science Classes Too Boring? Applying What We Learn In the Real World

As pre-med students, about ninety percent of our time is spent in classrooms, lecture halls and the library learning about the numerous, obscure laws of nature. The remaining ten percent of our time is divided between eating, sleeping and breathing. We take classes such as physics, organic, general and biochemistry, biology, statistics, upper level math and psychology and often wonder, well when the heck are we ever going to use something like this as doctors? Are the science classes we take too boring? How can we apply physics, chemistry, and biology to the real world? Through my first three years of college, I had the same recurring thoughts, making me lose motivation in school because nothing I was doing seemed directly applicable to a clinical setting. Now I’ll give it to you, many of the dense specifics that we cram into our heads are omitted and irrelevant to a degree when it comes to practicing medicine. After going through paramedic school, I see where I was wrong. I know this is easier for me to realize and say, but every treatment that I perform in the field, in one way or another, relates back to these classes. It just takes a little time to think that way. A good way to think about it is using what’s called the bottom-up process. This is a processing method done by the...

The Worst Social Media Platform For Mental Health

While social media can be a great tool for storytelling, sharing information, and staying in touch with friends, colleagues, and family, there’s no denying that there are negative effects. A previous study by Igor Pantic, MD, PhD on The National Center for Biotechnology Information chronicled the relationship between Facebook and a teenager’s self-esteem and depression, due to user’s narcissistic tendencies. According to the study: One of the possible explanations regarding the negative relationship between Facebook and self-esteem is that all social networking platforms where self-presentation is the principal user activity cause or at least promote narcissistic behavior. A report by Mehdizadeh described the findings of a study in which 100 Facebook users at York University provided self-esteem and narcissistic personality self-reports. The results indicated that individuals with lower self-esteem are more active online in terms of having more self-promotional content on their SNS profiles. In other words, certain Facebook activities (such as “The Main Photo” feature) were negatively correlated with self-esteem measured with the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. On the other hand, some authors have presented results indicating that Facebook use may actually enhance self-esteem. A study by Gonzales and Hancock included groups of student participants exposed to three different settings: exposure to a mirror, exposure to one’s own Facebook profile, and a control setting. The level of self-esteem in all participants was estimated using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. The results showed the positive...

Managing Stress In The Fast-Paced Medical Field

The other day I cried in front of my attending in the little office we share at an adult outpatient practice. We had only worked together once so were still somewhat uncomfortable around each other – still learning about each other and feeling out our individual expectations. I started crying because I was a few minutes late which normally wouldn’t have stressed me out enough to begin weeping but I had been dealing with some pretty heavy personal stuff that had completely sapped all of my emotional energy. When I arrived at the office, worn out after staying up all night trying to deal with what was going on, I couldn’t handle the crushing guilt I felt over my tardiness. Managing stress, especially in health and medicine, is tough. It’s important to be honest here so I will also say I was considerably upset about my attending seeing me this way – emotional, not in control, allowing my personal life to affect my work. I apologized over and over as I blotted my tears with the Kleenex he held out to me with a sympathetic look on his face. “I’m not usually like this” I remember saying at least three times. He commiserated. He understood what I was going through. He normalized it for me and told me everything would be ok. He suggested I take the rest of...

Trumpcare is Bad for Women’s Health

The American Health Care Act (AHCA), or Trumpcare, doesn’t seem to care for women’s health. The bill—which was narrowly passed by the House of Representatives on May 4th—allows states to withdraw from providing essential health benefits, which includes maternity and preventive care. Under Obamacare, all insurance plans are required to provide ten essential health benefits. This provision protects patients—it mandates insurance companies to cover the costs of important care, while also preventing them from selling barebones coverage to consumers. However, as the AHCA/Trumpcare permits states to waive coverage of essential health benefits, the cost of care will shift from insurance company to the patient. And, patients will be forced to pick up a huge tab out of pocket. This will disproportionately affect women who, without coverage, will have to pay high prices for treatment that’s vital to their health, including birth control, cancer screenings, and routine vaccines. Fortunately, the AHCA/Trumpcare isn’t the law yet. But imagine just how much women will potentially have to pay under its provisions! Amino, a healthcare transparency company, looked through their database of nine billion health insurance claims to uncover the astronomically high prices women patients may have to pay under the AHCA. Here’s a summary: About $1,000 for an intrauterine device (IUD). IUDs provide long-lasting birth control. Depending on the type, they need to be replaced every three to 10 years. $4,000 for...

Top 5 Reasons Why Studying Medicine in Israel is Sababa (Hebrew for: Awesome)

Many people often would study abroad for medical school, especially if they want a different experience. Dahlia Pasik lists the best reasons why studying medicine in Israel is a unique and fulfilling experience.  Kosher Food. And a lot of it – Whether you are Jewish, Italian, Christian, or perhaps a bit of all three, there is one thing Israel is in no shortage of for one to enjoy – and that’s kosher food. Sure, you will likely find kosher products distributed amongst various supermarkets in countries in the USA and in Canada, but not close to the proportion that Israel has to offer. So whether it’s falafel, shawarma, or just a good taste of steamy fresh potato kugel (Yiddish for pudding) you’re craving, the Holy Land has got you covered. More Hands-On Medical Experience – Israeli culture is quite different than typical American/Canadian culture. I remember when I was a premed and was looking to shadow a doctor in a locally based hospital in NY, there were so many permission forms to fill out and medical records to be tracked, I might have been better off just never shadowing. Once approved to follow this particular doctor, the hospital was so stringent about non-medical professionals being able to observe medically related procedures, I probably would’ve gained more exposure from watching a few melodramatic Greys Anatomy episodes. Well, Israel is different in...

Before You Board That Plane – Have You Had Your Measles Vaccination?

The  Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) shot is one of the many immunizations recommended by the CDC for healthcare workers and it is on the immunization schedule for children as early as 12 months. However, small outbreaks of Measles continue to occur in the US, with the vast majority of these infections coming from travelers returning from overseas trips. A highly contagious virus, Measles symptoms include high fever, cough and runny nose, followed by a red rash. In about 30% of cases there are serious complications, such as brain inflammation, blindness and pneumonia. Before immunization became common in the United States there were 3-4 million cases of measles each year, but as of 2016, the WHO declared that Measles was no longer endemic in the Americas. A new study from the Annals of Internal Medicine takes a closer look at pre-travel health consultations and the missed opportunities to establish measles immunity in adults travelling overseas. In association with the CDC’s Global TravEpiNet, researchers utilized data from 24 sites where adults born after 1957 filled out a survey regarding their pre-travel medical consultations. From an initial pool of 40,810 travelers, 6,612 travelers were deemed eligible to receive the MMR vaccination at the time of the consultation, meaning that they were in good health and did not report already having the MMR vaccination. Despite their eligibility, over 53% of patients did not go...

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