Category Archives: Media Reviews

Shoes for Clinical Duties – Particularly for the Gents

I know this may seem trivial, silly, unimportant or any of a million other descriptive terms you may come up with, but for people like myself, a quality pair of shoes makes the difference between a day of misery and a day of success. Many people decide to just wear tennis shoes, but I wanted to have a shoe that was suitable for wearing with my business casual attire and scrubs without so I wouldn’t need to worry about transporting multiple pairs. Another important feature was the ease with which they could be cleaned since you never know what is going to end up on your footwear in healthcare. Take one look around any facility and I guarantee you’ll see Dansko shoes worn by someone. While these may be fine for some people, I couldn’t bring myself to wearing them. No offense to any guys reading this with a pair in their closet, but those look like girl shoes. Thus, my search began and eventually ended in success!

Gentleman, if you need a pair of shoes for clinical duties, look no further. I researched several pairs of shoes and ultimately decided on Merrel as the brand to test out. Without a doubt, one of the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve owned and one that meets all of the aforementioned criteria are the Encore Gust Slip-On Shoes available through Amazon.

 

They are extremely comfortable, very easy to clean, durable and at $100, they’re actually cheaper than most Dansko shoes anyway. I can’t comment on the other similar pairs sold by Merrell, but I imagine there are other great choices as well. I know the “EVA footbed” of the pair I purchased is a big reason for the comfort, so you might want to be sure you purchase a pair with this feature as well. Anyways, if you’re in the market for some quality shoes, I highly suggest you give these a shot!

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Book Review: Discover Magazine’s Vital Signs

Discover Magazine’s Vital Signs: True Tales of Medical Mysteries, Obscure Diseases, and Life-Saving Diagnoses by Dr. Rob Norman

If you’re a fun of short medical stories, this is a simple and interesting read. Some stories are definitely more exciting than others, but medicine is a broad subject, filled with a variety of specialties. What one person finds fascinating, another feels completely uninterested. This book features stories published in a Discover Magazine column known as “Vital Signs”. The writers are physicians of varying specialties and bring excitement to the arena of numerous specialties. One important factor that I took from the book is confirmation of the importance of the patient history. Several life-saving diagnoses are made based on a single fact presented by the patient. The best part about this book is the format being numerous short stories. If you don’t have the time to read a large novel, check this book out to get your reading fix fulfilled.

My New Favorite Healthcare App!

Usually I hate advertisements, quickly clicking the close button without giving them the time of day. However, I actually found my new favorite iPhone app through an advertisement on Facebook.

I highly recommend anyone interested in healthcare to download the app “Figure 1”. It’s essentially a social network to share healthcare related images amongst healthcare professionals. You can even create an account on the Figure 1 website if you don’t want to add the app to your phone.

Be sure to check it out!

Figure 1 Website

Book Review – How We Do Harm

How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America by Otis Webb Brawley, M.D., with Paul Goldberg

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it illustrates some sinister complications with the US healthcare system. The author provides some fascinating statistical information regarding a variety of medical subject matter. His illustration of life-altering treatments evokes thought-provoking skepticism from the reader. Simultaneously, physicians who read this book should be encouraged to develop honest relationships with their patients. To be a good doctor, you must put the patient first, before prosperity and/or prestige.

There are few things that detract from my giving it a 5/5 rating, however. Unfortunately, the author expresses a fixation on racial stereotyping throughout the book. Being an African-American, the author probably has had numerous racially provoked experiences, but incessantly discussing racial profiling seems beyond the scope of this book.

Although I do agree there is unnecessary spending in medicine, frivolous expenditures occur in low, middle and high income classes. The author expresses obvious bias when he repeatedly states abuse of the system by private insurance patients, but gives little acknowledgement to the other end of the spectrum.

The author’s ultimate goal is to illustrate a broken healthcare system in the United States, and I must say that he does so successfully. I highly recommend this book to any premed or medical student, as well as to all physicians. There is a lot of information that can undoubtedly lead to better physicians throughout the country. Overall, this was a fantastic read.

Description in one word: Eye-opening

Rating: 4/5

Book Review – Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Imagine succumbing to an illness that slowly and methodically strips you of the characteristics that define you until you’re teetering on the edge of insanity and waking up tied down to a hospital bed. This is the true story presented by Susannah Cahalan, a New York Post reporter plagued with a life-threatening illness in the prime of her life.

This narrative is an astonishing & detailed account of the author’s personal fight against anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. This devastating & potentially lethal illness is an autoimmune disease that wasn’t officially discovered until 2007. Patients of the disease exhibit a variety of symptoms, most notably being psychiatric complications and seizures.

The scariest part about this illness is the fact that is can be easily overlooked by physicians, and most likely caused numerous misdiagnoses prior to its discovery. Imagine experiencing seizures and psychotic episodes, being diagnosed as schizophrenic or bipolar, and in reality you have a curable autoimmune disease.

All neurologists should read this book, but I recommend it to everyone. The story is simply astonishing and extremely insightful. The author presents a sinister situation in an exciting and entertaining manner. Further, she successfully presents scientific information in a way that maintains the readers attention.

Description in a single word: astonishing

Book Review: The House of God by Samuel Shem

Background Information: 

The House of God by Samuel Shem is a book that every healthcare professional should read and illustrates what every patient fears most. This satirical novel provides an illustration of the medical internship that all doctors experience. Published in 1978, this book remains a favorite among medical students, interns, residents, and physicians. It has sold over 2 million copies over the last 30 years and has been received with exuberant praise, as well as harsh criticism.

Samuel Shem is a pseudonym of the psychiatrist Stephen Bergman, who wrote the novel based on his real-life experiences during his internship year at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Hospital in 1974. The author brings to life the inappropriate, yet hilarious behaviors that keep healthcare professionals from going insane, all the while maintaining a professional disposition in the presence of their patients.

Review: 

Having worked in a hospital, I can definitely see the correlation between the material presented in this book and working in healthcare. Some of the situations seem exaggerated, but I wouldn’t put anything out of the realm of possibility. Many reviewers of the novel who read it both before and after experiencing their internship year said they thought it was exaggerated too… that is, until they were an intern.

I loved this book from the very start and literally laughed out loud on multiple occasions. I think it should be required reading for all healthcare professionals but especially for medical students. There are loads of morbid humor and sexually explicit narrations that I’m sure many people would find offensive. However, medical professionals often experience more bizarre, revolting, and morbid situations than most people would ever believe. This book presents a side of healthcare that goes unnoticed by everyone except healthcare professionals and perhaps for good reason. If you work in healthcare and need a good laugh, read this book. If you’re thinking of going into healthcare (more specifically, if you’re going to medical school), this could be a great way to develop an understanding that medicine isn’t like you see on TV. Basically, it’s not always pretty!

I’ll have to read this one again before my internship year, as well as after I’ve experienced the life of an intern. I’ve seen several physicians say you have an entirely different appreciation for it once you’ve actually experienced the situations illustrated. If this book provides any insight to my future in medicine, one thing is for sure: it’s going to be an interesting ride!  In summary, I highly recommend this book.

A description in a single word: hilarious.

Foreign Language Website/App Review: Duolingo = EXCELLENT!

Alright, so I feel like I have to post about a foreign language app you can download, which has an interactive website as well. It’s called Duolingo and I was first introduced to this gem in the iTunes stores. I’ve always had an interest in Spanish so I created an account and decided to give this app a shot. If I had to describe my feelings towards it in a single word, I think I’d keep it simple and go with “excellent”!

  1. First and most importantly, the app works. Obviously this is the most important aspect of any foreign language software. According to the Duolingo website, they have evidence that 32 hours of their program is equivalent to an entire semester of taking a Spanish class. Although I can’t validate this and it could obviously be statistical propaganda, it definitely is a worthwhile program.
  2. A major selling point for me and I’m sure many other users is that this application is completely FREE! Even better news is you shouldn’t expect that to change. The website explicitly discusses how it’s currently free and will always be free… forever!
  3. A third huge selling point for this application is the social aspect. You can invite friends from Facebook and/or Twitter and compete with each other in learning a language. Each lesson you complete gives points based on how well you did. Anyone you’re friends with through the Duolingo program can follow your progress and vice versa. There is even a leaderboard where you can see who amongst you is #1. Who doesn’t love some friendly competition to make things a little more intriguing? One of the hardest parts of learning a foreign language in my opinion is persistence, and the social aspect of this program will make you more determined to keep up the hard work.

I’ve only had this app for 2 days now, but I already am in love with it. Anyone with an interest in learning a foreign language should give it a shot. Honestly, you have no reason not to give it a try. It’s completely free so if you somehow don’t like it, a quick delete and you can act like it never existed. Try it out!

Book Review: The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, MD

Checklists… one of the simplest methods of organization. In a world with exponential growth of complex products, ideas, processes, and professions, the importance of something so minute seems infinitesimal. Yet, Atul Gawande demonstrates how the simplest of solutions can lead to dramatic results. This book explains how checklists can benefit someone undertaking any endeavor, with a specific regard to it’s much-needed use in medicine. Numerous stories are provided to substantiate the drastic effects of using checklists, and the evidence is so compelling it’s hard not to feel like you should adopt a checklist in aspect of your life immediately.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to all readers, not just medical students and physicians. The techniques employed with a simple checklist can help various areas of specialty, and several fields are discussed throughout the book. As the book discusses, we have tendencies to avoid seemingly mundane tasks such as checklists, but the use of them can drastically change lives. In my opinion, this should be required reading for all medical professionals.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

The author Mary Roach is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  It seems like she can make even the most mundane facts and information fascinating, and her propensity to research far from typical subject matter (oftentimes, subjects that would make many people queasy) is especially appealing as well.  In this short read, you will learn answers to many questions you may have asked yourself, as well as many more you haven’t thought about before.  Ranging from information regarding eating to bowel movements, chewing to stomach acid, and everything in between, this book is a phenomenal read.  While the information may not be for everyone, those who enjoy anatomy and physiology, this is an excellent book.  As always with books by Mary Roach, this is an entertaining read to say the least.

Please check out my “Recommended Books & Media” page if you haven’t yet!

Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance

This book is an excellent read for anyone interested in healthcare, and I highly recommend it to any and all medical (or premed) students.  At it’s core, the book examines a fundamental goal of any and all physicians in hopes of determining the seemingly simple concept of how they can do better.  The author divides this core concept of doing better into qualities and characteristics that doctors should strive to develop and maintain throughout their career and continuing education.  The reader will encounter numerous medical and ethical dilemmas that are discussed in detail, inspiring thought-provoking ideas the entire time.  Multiple controversial topics are included within the text, each consisting of subject matter than all aspiring physicians should make themselves well aware of.  My only personal discontent with this book is when I finished it, simply because I didn’t want it to end.

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