Sunday, November 29, 2009

Watch Medicine

In lieu of the holiday season and the thought of possibly having a little time to kill while on vacation I have sought out forms of digital entertainment that are sure to keep you amused while feeding the inner medical monster.

Medical Media

Fortunately, I do not own a television. Despite the shock this might cause, it is really a blessing considering how much homework I have. Every now and then, however, I just need a respite from the books and take advantage of the offerings provided by the World Wide Web. Below are links to free medical television shows, movies and procedures for your downtime enjoyment (if you have other suggestions, please leave them in the comments):

Medical TV

  • House - An arrogant physician and great diagnostician takes on intricate cases
  • Grey's Anatomy - Resident and veteran doctors dramatize their medical lives
  • Mercy - Television drama at Mercy Hospital
  • Private Practice - A drama about a neonatal surgeon practicing in California
  • Trauma - Paramedics from San Francisco race to save lives
  • Scrubs - A comical show about healthcare providers at Sacred Heart Hospital
  • Emergency! - Los Angeles paramedics respond to emergencies in this older series
  • St. Elsewhere - An 80's look at health providers in a Boston hospital
  • Nip/Tuck - The dramatized life of plastic surgeons
  • ReGenesis - Episodes about a team of anti-bioterrorists
  • Chicago Hope - A healthcare team provides treatment to those who have lost hope
  • Doogie Howser, M.D. - A young physician's approach to healthcare
Medical Movies
  • Lorenzo's Oil - A moving story about parents who race to save their dying child
  • Patch Adams - A comical view of humor in medicine
  • Sicko - Comparison documentary between socialized medicine and American medicine
  • Awakenings - New treatment permits catatonic patients to return to society
Medical Procedures
  • ORLive - Watch recorded or live surgical procedures
  • MedlinePlus - Various surgical videos available online
Board Prep Question of the Week

A patient presents to your clinic with a complaint of visual difficulties. On physical exam, you notice that when the patient looks to the left, only his right eye moves. The rest of the exam was within normal limits. The nerve responsible for this patient's problem travels through which of the following structures?

A. Internal auditory meatus
B. Foramen ovale
C. Foramen rotundum
D. Optic canal
E. Superior orbital fissure

Answer & Explanation

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Giving Thanks

In this season of thanksgiving, I reflect on that for which I am grateful. My supportive family and friends are at the top of my list along with endless opportunities to serve my community. I am usually not grateful for the ability to grow so much hair on my lip, but this month is a little different.

Local Volunteer Opportunities

With the little time we have outside of classes, it is refreshing to give back to the community on occasion. Since we are in medical school, it commonly comes in the form of optimizing health through sports physicals or public screenings. Recently, I joined my peers in a 5k walk for chronic hypoinsulinemia on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). In addition to raising money for a good cause, we caught a little fresh air and exercise at the same time.

In an ongoing effort to address prostate cancer awareness, men all over the world are "changing the face of men's health" by growing a mustache for Movember. I joined my classmates as Student Physicians for Fuzzy Philtrums, with the goal of contributing our follicular skills to this beneficial cause. If you have a prostate or love someone who does, please contribute to this noteworthy cause by sponsoring my fuzzy philtrum with a small donation. All proceeds go to the Prostate Research Foundation in cooperation with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. (After clicking the above link, you will be able to provide your contribution information online, if you have questions, please leave a comment.) Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

Board Prep Question of the Week

A 29 year old female with type 1 diabetes goes on a trip to the Caribbean and loses her insulin on the way. Three days after her last insulin dose she goes to the hospital. Lab work shows hyperglycemia and increased anion gap metabolic acidosis. Which of the following pathways is mainly responsible for providing the substrate of her acid-base disorder?

A. B-oxidation of fatty acids
B. Catabolism of branched chain amino acids
C. Citric acid cycle
D. Gluconeogenesis
E. Glycogenolysis

Answer & Explanation

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Not On My Watch

Iatrogenic (caused be medical personnel) and nosocomial (obtained in the hospital) infections are unfortunately a sad reality in healthcare. When we visit the doctor, the last thing we want is to become more ill than our initial visit from an avoidable cause.

Healthcare Associated Infections

Hospitals are rightfully expected to get you better but that's not always the case. Sometimes people are picking up infections, from pneumonia to antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA), while under treatment for other health problems, or even while just in the hospital having a baby. That's a situation that could, and should, be completely avoidable.

The fast pace medical environments such as clinics and hospitals make it easy to understand how healthcare professionals can facilitate the spread of infectious diseases from one patient to another. As simple as it is, hand washing is still one of the most effective means of reducing the spread of infection. Research has shown that alcohol based lotions equally accomplish the task in less time, hence the common practice of their use in medical facilities.

Healthcare associated infections not only have a significant financial impact on the medical system, but they are detrimental to the health of patients everywhere. The global campaign, "Not On My Watch" aims to educate healthcare providers how they can participate in reducing the spread of infection. If we all do our part, we can play an important role in the health of others and our own.

Board Prep Question of the Week

Five days after a mitral valve replacement, a 63 year old woman becomes hypotensive, tachycardic, and febrile. She is rushed to the CCU where an emergent transesophogeal echocardiogram shows multiple vegetations on the new mitral valve. Blood cultures are taken the patient is started on vancomycin and gentamycin. The initial Gram stain shows gram positive cocci. What additional bacterial characteristics are likely to be found?

A. Catalase negative with no hemolysis
B. Catalase negative with partial hemolysis and a positive quellung test
C. Catalase negative with partial hemolysis and no capsule
D. Catalase positive, coagulase negative
E. Catalase positive, coagulase positive

Answer & Explanation

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fertility Institute

With the new block comes new material. In anticipation of next semester's "project prepare," we have started our training of the genitourinary and reproductive systems. In terms of productiveness, we are gaining a fertile education.

Avoiding Educational Infertility

Although fascinating to learn about, the hormones involved in the endocrine system can be quite difficult with the first few passes. In working order, they control normal reproductive functioning and health. When the hormones are imbalanced, disease can easily take over resulting in various health complications.

It extends beyond the hormones into the histology, anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. The more we learn the "cooler" it gets as medicine incorporates so many fields into one.

As medical students we simply try to pack in as much of the information now, let it ruminate and make the clinical connections when the appropriate time comes. A significant part of our education is based off of getting the knowledge now so that we understand the clinical importance later. It may be wishful thinking, but I hope that the clinical experience really solidifies the chaotic sea of information that is floating around in my head. Books, flashcards and lectures can only go so far.

Board Prep Question of the Week

An 18-year-old female presents with abdominal pain determined to be related to ovulation. In reviewing the hormones of the menstrual cycle, you correctly remember that which of the following is responsible for ovulation? (Hint: Shown in the image above)

A. Estrogen
B. Follicle stimulating hormone
C. Luteinizing hormone
D. Progesterone
E. Prolactin

Answer & Explanation

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Board Review

As we move forward into our last block of the semester, we often consider the inevitable board exam following our second year of medical school. For those of us who have not already started preparing, there are some very useful tools and programs available to make the most of time and resources.

Step 1 Board Exam Preparation

Whether you prefer reading from a book, listening to a lecturer, or answering thousands of practice questions, this is one test you have to prepare for well in advance. Some of the representatives of the programs have visited our school to share information, but it is important to know what fits you.

Below I have compiled a list of recommended review materials (and pricing when available) from those who have been through the process. As is often the case, the sales happen early, so do not wait too long to make your purchase. If you have suggestions, please leave a comment for others to read.


Review Courses
  • Doctors In Training - ($700) They are inexpensive, send bi-weekly emails with topics and have a three week online review. The price is lower because they do not include a question bank and use the First Aid book as their text.
  • Kaplan - The old standard that provides excessive information at a high price. They offer practice exams, a question bank, and review sessions.
  • Northwestern - ($400-$1500) Their emphasis is on COMLEX preparation, but they offer USMLE options. Pricing varies on supplies and package purchased. They offer a range of high yield courses or extended two week sessions.
Question Banks (Discounted prices are often available if purchased early)
  • COMQUEST - ($75-$350) COMLEX oriented with 30-365 day subscriptions
  • Combank - ($89-$389) COMLEX oriented with 30-360 day subscriptions
  • USMLE World - ($99-$399) USMLE format with 30-360 day subscriptions; 2,000+ questions
  • USMLE Rx - ($99-$199) USMLE style from the authors of First Aid offering 1 and 3 month subscriptions or until you pass; 3,000+ questions
  • Kaplan - COMLEX and USMLE questions
  • Northwestern - ($75-$145) COMLEX and USMLE questions with 1-6 month subscriptions
Board Prep Question of the Week

A 58 year old man presents with a past medical history of hypertension presents with a cough. The medical team suspects that the cough is due to one of his antihypertensive medications. Which of the following is a characteristic of the best alternative drug for this patient?

A. Interference with binding of angiotensin I
B. Interference with binding of angiotensin II
C. Reduction of serum angiotensin II levels
D. Decreased production of a key enzyme produced in the lungs
E. None of the above

Answer & Explanation

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