Three Ancient Medicinal Practices: A Look Back Through History

Get ready to be skeeved out and generally disgusted. In this article we will take a trip through history to review three different types of ancient medicinal practices. Warning, this article may contain content that can cause an unsettled stomach, (but the small amounts of humor and interesting facts can be an antidote).  Bloodletting Originating in the time of the Romans and Ancient Greeks, bloodletting is the practice of doing exactly what it sounds like, letting out blood to cure the disease.  Ancient physicians like Hippocrates and Galen thought influenced the idea that blood was made of of four basic components, yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm.  So the practice ensued that if you had a sore throat, blood; migraines and stomach ache, blood; the plague, yep you can probably guess where I’m going with this.  Basically, any type of illness was thought to be solved through the purifying of one of the substances of the body.  This makes me appreciate history and the development of our society so much more, that I now can have a minor cold and go to the doctor without getting a leech attached to my arm or a knife to the leg. Animal Dung Ointments Another self explanatory name for another disgusting medicinal practice.  Poop, yes poop, used to be CELEBRATED by Egyptian physicians circa 1500 b.c.  It was used for it’s...

When the Baton is Passed to the Echo Boomers

When a baton is passed in a relay, there is a brief moment where both hands are on the baton. It is in those moments, as the baton is passed from the baby boomers to the echo boomers, where conduction occurs.   An echo boomer, Cassandra Batson, is coordinating the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) first-ever High School STEM day. On Wednesday, November 21st, 2018, students from 9th grade through the 12th grade will participate in a scientific conference that will allow them to engage in and recognize the real-world connections of STEM beyond the walls of the classroom.   I was lured into participating for many reasons, but mainly as a budding female scientist myself I wanted to use my novice voice to inspire other rookie females into careers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. “…when you educate a woman you educate a generation” –African Proverb I not only agreed to participate in the High School STEM Day myself but also was inspired during preparation for the day to highlight her efforts as a way to continue to the dialogue of exposing youth to STEM careers in revolutionizing ways.   Shout out to a few leading ladies in STEM: Jean Fan, Founder of https://custemized.org/. CuSTEMized engages, encourages, and empowers young girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math by providing them with tangible products and educational experiences that foster a positive...

A Lesson from Research: Advocacy

In 2013, the office was abuzz with conversations about the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act. The HOPE Act would have significant implications for our work and was particularly relevant as former President Barack Obama planned to sign it into law a mere two months after I began working.   But despite its landmark significance, I was surprised to find that the HIV+ patient population was unaware of this law. More importantly, HIV+ patients’ willingness to accept HIV+ organs remained unknown. So, we developed a survey to understand patients’ attitudes towards HIV-to-HIV transplantation. Understanding these perspectives is paramount to gauging the level of support for the HIV-to-HIV organ donation program, specifically whether HIV+ patients are willing to accept HIV+ organs.   With the support of the Fulbright Scholarship, I continued this exploration on the knowledge of and attitudes toward HIV-to-HIV transplantation within the HIV+ population at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Consolidating the evidence of countless interviews I had collected from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, I recognized how easily biomedical science could remain within scientific journals without ever translating to the population we had in mind when designing the studies. Research, though valuable and critical, is limited if not accessible to the patients it hoped to benefit.   “Research, though valuable and critical, is limited if not accessible to the patients it hoped...

Is The Need To Feel Productive Taking Over Your Life?

The fact that someone is interested in medicine tells a lot about them. In most cases, it’s safe to assume that they possess a certain degree of self-drive, passion for the human condition, and an urge to prove themselves. However, with this burning fire comes an insatiable need to make the most use of one’s time and a tendency to feel the guilt when that is not the case. Is the Need To Feel Productive Taking Over Your Life? This sense of self-reflection is exacerbated even further as a medical student, a stage where every second counts towards better understanding the basic medical disciplines (and working towards that great board score of course!). I myself will admit being victim to this notion even right now (compelling me to write this article rather than slacking off for an hour or two). However, there are certain steps that you can take to assuage your concerns and obsessions with the need to feel productive. Another way to look at this is by finding ways to make better use of your free time. Laura Vanderkam delves into this very concept in her TED Talk below. For us future physicians, this presents an especially interesting dilemma. Compared to most professions, medicine is one of the few fields demanding a workweek that can quite easily exceed 60 hours. However, at the same time, the concept of...

How Doctors and Nurses Can Work Together

Believe it or not, maintaining a healthy working relationship is often the most difficult thing for some nurses to accomplish in their career. This is usually because we are trained in nursing school to be emotional and empathic to our patient’s needs. For some, this comes more natural, while others really struggle at this.  When it comes to being professional we sometimes tend to react more emotionally then we should. It is unfortunate but lateral aggression, drama, power trips, and attention seeking personalities plague almost every workplace and especially in the healthcare field. As a nurse and particularly as a travel nurse you will run into these personalities everywhere. So let me share with you a few tips on how to fight this kind of behavior, which in turn can help you maintain a healthy working relationship with fellow nurses and physicians. Don’t Be So Emotional! Let me first start off by saying that nurses are emotional. This is not necessarily a bad thing to say considering we need to be in order to be sensitive to our patient’s needs. But reacting emotionally in tense situations and when receiving negative feedback can be a career ender for any nurse. You need to learn when to be emotional and when not to be. Make sense? It’s a tricky and often difficult skill to learn as a nurse. Let’s go over...

How To Get To Your Residency Interviews

This post is all about getting ready for residency interviews. I essentially just began interviewing, so much of the information in my next two posts will be based on advice from countless friends, blogs, and attendings, in addition to my personal experience. I’ll follow these up with a post at the end of interview season to add anything I wish I had known beforehand. The very first step in preparing for interviews is setting up your 4th year schedule. This is based completely on personal preference and the requirements of your specialty. I took Step 2 in late June because about 30% of General Surgery programs require a Step 2 score for an interview. I chose an easy rotation in October, so that I could check my email constantly, and I am taking November and December off for interviews. Like I said, this is personal preference. Air travel stresses me out, so trying to arrange flights around an active rotation would drive me insane. I’d rather just have a rotation in April while the rest of my friends are on a beach somewhere. But the beach might be really important to you, so you’ll figure out how to make it work. As for the items below, you should start this process in September, before you actually get invited to any interviews (or even earlier if you have busy rotations in...

8 Films Every Health Professional Student Should Watch

I don’t know about you, but some films can really leave a mark. Over my journey, I have watched many medically related films but these 8 continue to surface to the top of my memory. Next time you need a pick-me-up, choose one of the following:   Hacksaw Ridge is a 2016 biographical war drama film directed by Mel Gibson. The film focuses on the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, a combat medic who refused to carry or use a weapon or firearm of any kind. Doss was the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor.   Something the Lord Made is a 2004 biographical drama film directed by Joseph Sargent. This film is about Vivien Thomas, a cardiac pioneer, and his complex partnership with Alfred Blalock, a pioneer of modern cardiac surgery.   Patch Adams is a 1998 comedy-drama film directed by Tom Shadyac. This film is based on the life story of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams who built and ran the free community hospital, Gesundheit Institute, in West Virginia.   Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a 2017 film directed by George C. Wolfe. The film is based on the best-selling book by Rebecca Skloot and documents the story of Henrietta Lacks whose cancer cells (HeLa cells) changed the course of cancer treatment forever.   The Heart of Nuba is a 2016...

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