Providing Women Worldwide With Education

Sitting in Hamilton or Foerderer during lecture, it is easy to think about how our education will impact the lives of our patients and the public at large. What you may not have considered is that, for women worldwide, data consistently shows the most important determinant of health outcomes is education (medical or otherwise).  Though important progress has been made towards gender equality in education and medicine in the US and elsewhere, inequalities remain.  Worldwide, two times as many girls will not start school compared to boys.  Beyond just making sense, providing women with access to education in the developing world has many great outcomes - from better earning potential to improved national GDP and better pregnancy outcomes.  

Organized efforts have emerged to empower both men and women to work as medical professionals in areas with limited healthcare infrastructure.  For instance, Seed Global Health trains doctors, nurses, and midwives worldwide.  Here is an incredible account of one night's work for a SGH-trained midwife in Uganda.  As you progress in your professional development, near forget the wide-ranging impact that your knowledge and skills can have.

Everyday Technology in Medical Education: Touch Surgery Cuts Deal with Johnson & Johnson

“See one, do one, teach one” is a largely repudiated teaching philosophy in medicine that has thankfully nearly been phased out by novel teaching techniques. Many of these new techniques are mediated by technology. According to the AAMC, simulation-based learning is central in training today’s health professionals. One drawback to all this technology, however, is the cost. For example, the da Vinci Surgical System can cost anywhere from $3,000-6,000, and other tech is even more expensive. A trend toward training apps developed for affordable, everyday devices may be a way to avoid these high prices. The new surgery-training app Touch Surgery is just one example. New tools such as this one are designed to produce better-trained physicians more affordably and effectively. 

Read more about the app: Surgery Training App Touch Surgery Cuts Deal with Johnson & Johnson

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Successful Paralysis Reversal in Monkeys

Spinal cord injuries can be some of the most devastating injuries, resulting in paralysis with little to no hope of recovery. Recent studies in monkeys, however, suggest that this dismal outlook may some day change. Study results published in Nature detail how such injuries were bypassed using wireless technology, allowing monkeys to walk again. Although results in monkeys may not translate to such results in humans, the technology is essentially the same as that already used in humans to treat recalcitrant Parkinson’s disease, so human trials may not be far off.

Read more, and watch paralyzed monkeys walk again: 

'Brain wi-fi' reverses leg paralysis in primate first

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Democracy In Practice: Comparing The Healthcare Policies Of The Candidates

Yep, it's that time of year again.  Attack ads crowding the broadcast breaks of your favorite sporting events?  Everyone on Twitter is suddenly even more opinionated about everything?  Saturday Night Live is actually funny again?  A major election must surely be right around the corner.

There was a great article from In Training this week comparing the healthcare policies of the two candidates.   As you can imagine, they are almost diametrically opposed on all issues.  Mr. Trump wants to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, while Secretary Clinton wants to expand it.  Hillary wants to employ telehealth initiatives for rural areas throughout the country, while Donald advocates for "Health Savings Accounts" to supplement high-deductible plans.  This overview from the Commonwealth Fund goes into the details of what the ramifications of each candidate's proposals would be.  Even if you selected your candidate months ago, take a second to read the position from the other side.

The most important takeaway from this Article of the Week is simple - exercise your right to vote!  Break out of the med school bubble and voice your opinion on the future of healthcare (and many other important issues) in this country.

Medical Specialties Divided by Political Party Preference

Specialty choice is difficult decision for many medical students, while others seem to know their defined path from day one. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you fall into, it is interesting to note that some distinctive personality traits seem to correlate with various specialties. While this observation is mostly documented in jokes and online memes, a recent study described in the New York Times found that, at least in terms of political preferences, physicians do differ by specialty. The causes of this have not been investigated, but it is clear that your surgeon colleague is likely a Republican and your psychiatrist colleague is probably a Democrat. See the graph below, or the original article for a list of all specialties by political affiliation. Experts in the field do predict that vastly different healthcare policy will result based on the outcomes of the upcoming presidential election. When going to the polls this November 8th, consider how politics influence healthcare and how your values may or may not align with trends in various specialties.

Breaking The Silence: Hearing And Changing The Story

The complex problem of substance use disorder has existed as a major public health problem in our society for many years, in many iterations. Most recently, the abuse of opioids has caught national attention as drug overdose rises to the number one cause of accidental death in the country. Are we, as medical students, adequately informed about the many facets of this problem and its origins? In First Aid, the disorder is covered in one definition (see below). As doctors, will we know enough about this seemingly intractable issue to screen for it and treat it appropriately and effectively in our communities? In this Article of the Week, Kaitlyn Dykes reflects on these themes in a piece for PEL's student-run journal, the Diagnostic. To further explore these topics join us tonight at 5:00 pm, 

in Connelly Auditorium for our next PEL large group event, Channeling your Convictions: Leadership in Addiction Medicine with Joseph Skrawjewski, MA, MFTI (snacks provided). PEL will also be hosting a networking event afterwards at Strangelove's (discounted menu) that all are invited to attend!  

Article: Breaking the SilenceHearing and Changing the Story 

First Aid Definition of Substance Abuse Disorder: Maladaptive pattern of substance use with 2 or more of the following signs in 1 year: tolerance, withdrawal, substance taken in larger amounts or over a longer time than desired, persistent desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down, significant energy spent obtaining/using/recovering from substance, important activities reduced because of substance use, continued use despite knowing substance causes problems, craving, use in physically dangerous situations, failure to fulfill obligations due to use, conflicts related to substance use.

The Price of "Skin-to-Skin": The Hidden Costs of Childbirth in the US

Nine months of preparation for your little bundle of joy?  $5,000+. A six-week birthing class?  $60-100.  Getting the chance to hold your newborn baby?  Priceless…and $40.   

A Utah couple discovered the true price of that unforgettable moment when they received the bill for their son’s caesarian section and posted their experience on Reddit.  “Skin-to-skin” is a common hospital practice in which newborns are placed on their mother’s chest soon after delivery, which has been shown to promote longer breastfeeding periods and better temperature stability in the infant.  According to the hospital, the charge was incurred due to the extra nurse that needed to be present during the skin-to-skin time - a claim that was supported by a practicing Ob/Gyn.

The larger point in this case concerns the lack of federal rate-setting for the medical materials and procedures in the US.  If you are covered under private insurance or paying out-of-pocket, the hospital sets the prices associated with your care.  The federal government does set the rates for individuals with certain types of coverage, including Medicaid; however, by and large, this is far from the norm.  In fact, the billing process is so bewildering for patients that companies are creating medical billing navigation apps to help them.  

Why the Intersection of Medicine, Dentistry, & Microbiology Should Make You Smile

October 3, 2016

Pop quiz: What happens when the facial nerve (CN VII) causes the zygomaticus major to contract? — you SMILE! One reason to smile is the interdisciplinary work in the fields of medicine, dentistry, and microbiology! Recent collaborative efforts in these areas have identified and are working to prevent infectious outbreaks due to contaminated water at dentists’ offices. Dental unit water lines are ideal for the growth of biofilms, which also form pesky and durable microbial colonies on your teeth. Beyond having to brush a little better, these bacterial aggregates can lead to serious health problems.

Last week in Orange County CA, nearly two-dozen children receiving baby-root canals for dental caries (i.e. cavities) developed dangerous mycobacterium infections via inoculation from a contaminated dental water supply. This isn’t the first infectious outbreak from dental lines; in 2015 another outbreak occurred at a Georgia clinic. While full-blown infection development is rare, it can be serious and possibly even require surgery to treat. To prevent such infections, special water filters and treatments should be paired with frequent water testing at clinics. Meanwhile, research efforts are underway to combat stubborn biofilm growth. While targeted at oral biofilms versus ones associated with the water supply, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine is making progress in the field. Recently their work was published, describing certain plant peptides that act as antimicrobials, rapidly killing tooth-decay-causing bacteria by thwarting biofilm formation!

Article: Infection Outbreak Shines Light on Water Risks at Dentists Offices