“Hippocrates vs. Star Trek”

Today on KevinMD, Dr. Richard Levin, president and CEO of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, reflects on white coats and the past and future of medicine.

The rumors of the doctors’ demise are premature. In this country, there have never been as many people organized to figure out how to move the system away from the current dysfunction toward that triple aim, and the specialties are working together in new configurations that give hope to interprofessional training and care delivery. If you saw the faces of the class of 2017, after members of the faculty help them on with their white coats, transformed by the ritual and the oath and the sense of responsibility you would believe that they will fix what’s wrong. Even if we find they must wear airtight garments of special antibacterial fabrics imagined for the 24th century, the white coat with all that it means in the valuation of caring should still be donned by the newcomers to the new health care system.

Here at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, we are very excited to announce that Dr. Levin will be our Annual Humanism Day Celebration speaker. Register today and join us on Thursday, March 13!

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Filed under Education, Humanism

The Moth Radio Quarter-Hour

In this Moth piece, a therapist describes her journey with a patient whose cancer returns. After hours of sessions, what two word sentence is the most comforting?
Take 15 minutes to listen to Segment 1 below (click >> arrow).


Image via http://www.prx.org/themoth

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Filed under Cancer, Storytelling

Treating the patient, not the disease

We frequently hear this phrase, and here’s the thought in action. When homeless former inventor Mike Williams came under Dr. Jong Chen’s care, Chen helped him regroup both medically and socially.

All of that got started with an unusually generous contribution.

“To me, a patient is a patient, no matter what kind of status [they] have,” Chen says. “They need the help, [and] we can give him the help.”

Chen got Williams out of the shelter and back on his feet. He helped him get an apartment, new clothes and treated him to meals when the two would meet.

via NPR

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2112 – Looking back on 300 years of the NEJM

Since 1812, the year of the New England Journal of Medicine‘s founding, medicine has been utterly transformed. We saw the advent of antisepsis and anesthesia (both from the 1840s alone), created ways of imaging the inside of the body, and began transplanting organs. Now the NEJM asks, what do the next 100 years have in store?

Biomedical research, data technologies, and clinical care all require resources, but the era of shifting more and more economic resources toward health care is going to end. The medicine of the future will focus on more efficient use of resources to prevent disease, with the goal of delivering what provides the best value for the patient who needs treatment. The future of medicine also depends on reducing the enormous disparities in health, particularly those between the richest and the poorest countries of the world. A basic standard of sound medical care will become an expectation of every society. Research-rich countries may come to see that achieving basic health care throughout the world is a strategy to promote stability and peace. The increasing power of information and communication technologies can help find ways to improve global health. However, that goal also requires the educational and economic development that are essential for societies to achieve a reasonable standard of health. The moral mandate here only becomes stronger as clinical progress continues to accelerate in developed societies.

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Filed under Public health, Research, Technology

Best medical articles of 2012

If you were busy living, learning, studying, or otherwise occupied in 2012, you may have missed out on some of the fantastic medical journalism and essays of 2012. Fortunately, the editor of Stanford Medicine has curated a thoughtful and intriguing list over at Stanford’s Scope Blog.

Undead: The rabies virus remains a medical mystery, by Monica Murphy and Bill Wasik,Wired
An account of a modern attempt to cure rabies, with lots of history woven in.

Can a jellyfish unlock the secret of immortality? by Nathaniel Rich, New York Times Magazine
Including wondrous jellyfish that grow younger and a researcher who breaks the mold, and it’s told with humor and lyricism.

Two hundred years of surgery, by Atul Gawande, New England Journal of Medicine
For gems like this: “Liston operated so fast that he once accidentally amputated an assistant’s fingers along with a patient’s leg, according to Hollingham. The patient and the assistant both died of sepsis, and a spectator reportedly died of shock, resulting in the only known procedure with a 300% mortality.”

Before you dig into  2013 (starting with last week’s post), check out the rest of Rosanne Spector’s list over at Scope.

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Who am I?

That might be the question Jean Valjean is asking, but hopefully we’re all taking some time in the new year for self-reflection. Yet how do we define ourselves? Pause a moment before diving into 2013 to read Daniel Levitin’s probing piece in The Atlantic, “Amnesia and the Self that Remains When Memory is Lost.

Tom was one of those people we all have in our lives — someone to go out to lunch with in a large group, but not someone I ever spent time with one-on-one. We had some classes together in college and even worked in the same cognitive psychology lab for a while. But I didn’t really know him. Even so, when I heard that he had brain cancer that would kill him in four months, it stopped me cold.

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Filed under Cancer, Memory, Neuroscience

“The Defiant Muse” by Rafael Campo

How one man poured himself into poetry to prevent “the stealing of [his] personhood” by Parkinson’s. From Harvard Medicine’s 2003 bulletin, The Neurobiology of the Arts.

I sat dumbfounded as he went on to recite about a hundred lines of his verse, the tears coming to his eyes as he described, in one particularly moving section, his granddaughter at the piano, the same talented little girl whom he hadn’t been able to recall earlier during our visit. His words rose and fell with all the musicality of a Beethoven or Bach concerto, as if her inerasable presence in his mind had found a last remaining outlet. I wondered whether he had indeed once published his work, in the homeland he could no longer name, in a world that he was fast losing.

Beautiful. Read the whole piece above, excerpted from The Healing Art: A Doctor’s Black Bag of Poetry.

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Filed under Arts, Chronic illness

New Girl, New Diagnosis (spoiler alert)

Medical uncertainty has once again appeared as the subject of a half hour comedy (does this count as dramedy now?). In a recent episode of New Girl, roommate Nick Miller deals with the anxiety of waiting for an ultrasound after his friend’s doctor discovers a lump on his thyroid. (As an aside, since we’re studying for the boards, was it a thyroglossal duct cyst? It moved with swallowing. Okay, enough medicine).

Continue reading

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Filed under Humanism, Professionalism

That’s our namesake!

In an awesome bit of history of medicine news, Andreas Vesalius’ personal 1555 copy of De corporis humani fabrica (On the Workings of the Human Body) has been found. The margins feature his handwritten notes for a new edition. If you’re a new reader here on THF after yesterday’s conference, check out why Vesalius inspired our name.

From the FineBooks & Collections blog:

In 1543, Andreas Vesalius, the founder of modern human anatomy, published De Humani Corporis Fabrica (The Fabric of the Human Body), what is now considered the most famous and beautifully illustrated of all early printed medical books. Later today, Professor Vivian Nutton of the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, will present the discovery of an annotated copy of the later 1555 edition that includes hundreds of Vesalius’ manuscript notes and corrections to the printer plates. It seems the Flemish anatomist was working on a third edition of his magnum opus!

Thanks to @LibraryatNight for the heads-up!
image via evolution.berkeley.edu

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Success!

Wow. Thanks to everyone who made the Inaugural Humanism Day Conference an absolute blast. Check back later on for pictures and updates. And to all our new readers – welcome!

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Filed under Education, Humanism, Outreach, Research