University of Southern California November 28, 2012 Volume III | Issue I TrojanHealthConnection.com
c e n t e r sp r e a d f e atu r e :
An Insider’s Look at the Different Medical Specialties. | PAGES 4-5
America’s “Primary” Concern: Why Pre-Meds Should Seriously Consider General Medicine
Physician Assistants By GURLEEN CHADHA Editor
EDITORS MEGAN BERNSTEIN &GURLEEN CHADHA
By Jung-Gi MIN Writer Traditionally, it has been held that most premeds want to become doctors to help other people. “We have an obligation...to sacrifice time and resources to aid our society and the societies outside of the States, because our community made a great investment in training us with the skills that we need to promote health,” said Veronica Winget, a USC Global Medicine Masters student. Despite the honest intentions of premeds however, the truth is that primary care is being ignored by potential doctors. According to the New York Times, only 20% of medical students are interested in primary care by their
third years. The actual number of students that end up practicing general medicine is closer to 15%. This is problematic for the US, which faces an increasing need for primary care physicians, projected to increase eight-fold by 2025. Currently, the US, despite spending more money per capita than any other country on healthcare, has one of the worst systems amongst the developed nations. Without proper primary care, it is difficult to prevent simple problems from spiraling into more complex health issues. In addition, a weak primary care system increases the cost of care. “Our system, in the U.S., is overspecialized. The ratio of specialists to primary care doctors is out of balance, and this drives up the cost of care,” Dr. Erin
Quinn, Director of Medical Education at the Keck School of Medicine, said. “If the healthcare was coordinated by primary care, the majority of all our healthcare issues can be handled by one doctor.” Medical schools have not invested enough in raising interest in primary care. Furthermore, the US healthcare system itself has provided little incentive to practice general medicine, as the doctors in specialties continue to make two to three times the salary of an average primary care physician. The need for general practitioners is only expected to increase due to the Affordable Care Act. This dilemma is certainly something that every premed should have in mind while pursuing their education to serve the interests of their communities. n
Ask students about healthcare jobs, and the standard answers will be: doctor, dentist, or nurse. Students who limit themselves to these positions are doing themselves a disservice. A physician assistant (PA) is a nationally certified, state-licensed medical professional who can diagnose and treat illnesses, perform procedures, and assist in surgery. “PAs do literally everything physicians do, except for analyzing labs,” said prePA junior Henna Manglani. “There’s a huge misconception that PAs are not involved in diagnosing, or hands-on treatment. But they have a lot of the same roles as doctors.” The major difference between PAs and physicians is that a PA must work as part of a team with the supervision or sponsorship of a physician. “Rather than being the leader, you work as part of a team with NPs and physicians, and that teamwork aspect appeals to me,” said Manglani. The concept of a PA was created to fill the shortage of primary-care physicians. IThe PA curriculum was based on the fast-track doctor training that was implemented in the military during World War II, consisting of two years instead of four. The majority of PA training... — see PA Overview, page 7
From USC Pre-Med to Medical Student: Trojan Alumni Reflect on Their Undergraduate Pre-Health Experience at USC
By JANIE CHEN, FAIZAN MALIK, AISHA LODIN, IFRAH HASSAN, and REBECCA GAO Associate Editor, Senior Editor, Editors, & Editor-in-Chief Q: What did you wish you knew as an undergraduate? Jonathan Lerner, Keck School of Medicine: You really should take your time to immerse yourself in other majors and fields. Amanda Bogart, Keck School of Medicine: Ask (the right person) and you shall receive, should really be blazoned on every archway
...because there really is someone willing to help you achieve anything. If you’re proactive about your goals, you’re set at [USC]. Q: What’s the most surprising part of med school? Bijan Ketabchi, Keck School of Medicine: [Clinical experience] is tougher than you think, but it’s also my favorite...It really reinforces my reasons for attending medical school.
Alice Kim, Keck School of Medicine: Studying every day is the norm, and it’s basically like taking multiple science classes at the same time (at least for the first semester of first year).
freshman year to buffer my science grades and getting used to the work load, and then gradually taking part in more social activities...
Hao-Hua Wu, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania: The best part about Penn is the team-building focus that the curriculum offers. At Penn, our class is broken up into “Learning Teams”
of 7 and “Doctoring Groups” of 14. Also, our curriculum is designed to foster collaboration so we often take exams in our learning teams and do problem-based learning problem sets together. Q: When you were an undergraduate, how did you stick with the pre-med path? Bogart: I think a key factor for me was working particularly hard my
which are just as important in developing a good bedside manner Lerner: For me, remaining connected to my eventual goals was key. I found that shadowing at LAC+USC Hospital was particularly motivating. Being able to see health care delivered in clinics and the OR reminded me why I ultimately wanted to become a physician. Q: What is your best advice to current premed students? Ketabchi: Don’t let the MCAT consume your whole
life. None of you will believe me now, but once you get to the interview stage you’ll start to realize how little the MCAT matters. Personality and extracurriculars are just as important. Sarra Shahawy, Harvard Medical School: Find the things that you love and do them passionately and for a purpose. Never be afraid to break out from the norms; there [are] no criteria for being pre-med, and everyone has non-science interests. n
For the full interviews and more, please visit: www.TrojanHealthConnection.com
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November 28, 2012
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Letter from the Editors-in-Chief
EDITORS-IN-CHIEF REBECCA GAO & JESSICA KUO
SECTION EDITORS MORGAN ROGERS & NATASHA SOSA EDITORS
SENIOR EDITORS ANJLIE GUPTA
GURLEEN CHADHA IFRAH HASSAN
FAIZAN MALIK ASSOCIATE EDITORS:
JANIE CHEN, JESSICA DALLAS, AISHA LODIN, Francine liang MANAGERS: JACQUELINE DINH, Layout Editor; Amanda Ciozda, SCOTT WEY, Web Managers; ASMAA ALBAROUDI, PETER ESKANDER, ALISON YU, Public Relations Managers; HAN DAO, GINA LEE, Photo Managers Senior Writers: KAUSAR ALI, NICOLE BASLER, lynn benjauthrit, AIMEE CHANG, KRISTINA CHIU, DIANA CHUNG, ANNETTE EOM, JESSICA FRANKEBERGER, DIANA HANG, ROBERT HA, ALINE HESSE, TIFFANY NAZAR, NIKKI NOE, SEHAR SALMAN, chukwumaMKPAM uzoegwu Writers: BRIDGET ARRIAZA, SANA AZAM, SAYULI BAHIDE, KELSI CHESNEY, ABRAM ESTAFANOUS, DALTON BANH, KRISTIANNA GADALLA, MANU GANDHAM, PURNIMA GURUNG, EMILY HE, AMRIT JAGGI, ALEX LEE, JUNG-GI MIN, LAUREN MOHABBER, PETER PAULINO, KEITH PELTON, AKSHAY SUBRAMANIAN, LU TIAN, LINDA TSUI, JANIS YUE Photographers: MICHELLE CHONG, RUNXIN LIANG, DANIEL WANG, JESSICA WANG HAO-HUA WU & TAKANORI OHKUBO Founders
What is Healthcare? By SEHAR SALMAN Writer With the re-election of President Obama and the Supreme Court’s favorable ruling, the Affordable Care Act seems likely to stay. Healthcare has become such a controversial topic that it can be quite difficult to address it from a neutral viewpoint without falling victim to party bias. The Merriam Webster Encyclopedia Brittanica describes healthcare as “the maintaining and restoration of health by the treatment and prevention of disease especially by trained and licensed professionals.” It seems like this description is about as broad and as it gets. It makes no mention of physical health as opposed to mental health. Nothing is noted about a child’s health as opposed to an adult’s or an elderly person’s health. Neither race nor sexual orientation is addressed. Socioeconomic class doesn’t even make an appearance. In fact, the definition says nothing about what kind of health, and what kind of person’s health falls into the realm of healthcare. It portrays healthcare, very literally, as caring for one’s health. The description does not characterize healthcare at all. There is no mention of the Federal Drug Administration, or anything specific about what is considered a “clinically verified” versus an “experimental” treatment. Herbal, homeopathic, osteopathic, allopathic and psychiatric practices are all fair game. By this definition, taking an ibuprofen for a headache is as much a part of healthcare as is heart surgery for a birth defect, or an herbal mixture for a stomachache or even an exorcism for the possessed soul performed by the village shaman. Maybe it is. If anything, our current view of healthcare is not comprehensive enough. There is almost no consideration for preventative measures. Condoms protect against sexually transmitted diseases, vaccines protect against influenza and related viruses, and malaria pills against the mosquito borne illness. Covering your mouth and washing your hands are intended to help limit the spread of disease – they are also preventative measures. And who exactly are trained and licensed professionals? Doctors, dentists, psychiatrists? What about teachers and researchers? While the first three professionals mentioned are those most associated with healthcare, the others play just as significant roles in both disease prevention and the development of new cures and treatments. Eventually, we have to develop our own definitions of what healthcare constitutes, of who provides it, of who “deserves” it, and - seemingly the most pertinent question - of who pays for it. The present debate seems to be focused on the new Affordable Care Act, more colloquially referred to as Obamacare. In essence, this act aims to have more people covered by health insurance and to reform the health system to improve efficiency and put a greater focus on public health and prevention. Whether this reform will prove good or bad is up to debate. How expensive will it be? Is it socialism? Or is it putting into place programs and regulations that should already be in place? Regardless, there has to be a fundamental shift in the way we view healthcare. At the moment, healthcare in the US is viewed too narrowly as “fix what is broken” when we should try to prevent the breakage to begin with. n
ear Reader, This issue, we’re looking towards the future. We’re looking at our futures in the changing healthcare field. With the application season coming to a close and the next one soon beginning, we at Trojan Health Connection were reminded of our friends and mentors who were undergraduates at USC, but have now gone off to medical school. We wanted to see how they were faring and hoped to glean some “pearls of wisdom” from their successes. This issue, we’re sharing with you what we’ve learned.
We’re also looking beyond medical school with profiles of physicians in different specialties. We were curious about the daily lives of cardiologists and the research that rheumatologists do. At the same time, we cannot overlook the importance of primary care. Our front page article discusses the alarming consequences of the increasing shortage of primary care physicians on the US healthcare system. A little bit closer to home, a new, ground-breaking Health Care studies minor shaping the future of pre-health at USC. On page 6,
we’re featuring new organizations such as Trojan Vision’s Trojan Health Show and Hudson Clinic Volunteers, a community clinic within walking distance now open to USC students. On our back page, we explore how media and social technology are transforming the future of medicine. New apps like DrawMD and are facilitating physician-patient communication. And as for the future of THC, we hope for your continued support and readership and promise to bring you more relevant stories in the coming years. Sincerely, Jessica and Rebecca
Staying Healthy While Pre-Health By KAUSAR ALI Writer
Do you struggle to squeeze in a workout between classes, labs, research, and other extracurricular activities? Many pre-health students worry about not being able to balance their personal health with their demanding academic schedule and social life. Some simply say that there is just not enough time. Undergraduate Daniel McPhie says, “I work out every day in the summer, but once I come back to school, my routine just falls apart.” It can be difficult to manage time between studying for midterm exams, going to the gym, sleeping, and eating healthy meals. “If I make time to study for both biology or chemistry and go work out, I lose out on extra time to sleep or cook a healthy homemade meal. I have to sacrifice some things to do another,” says USC undergraduate Keri Armstrong. Nonetheless, staying healthy and exercising regularly is important. Some students go to the Lyon Center to lift weights, run, swim, do yoga, do Zumba, rock climb or jump rope. Other students go to gyms at off-campus apartments or even have their own stay-athome exercise routines. Waking up early to exercise or even doing pushups, crunches and jump ropes during study
breaks can help instill a healthy exercise plan into one’s routine. Squeezing in a workout is just as imperative as finding the time to study for upcoming exams. Students like Zade Shakir use exercise as a means to de-stress from the pressures and demands of a science-based career track.
studying, and allows one to be more focused in class. Jason Hsu says, “Doing things I enjoy like playing the guitar and going on a short run help me release tension when I am really stressed. Afterwards, I can focus on my work and study more efficiently.” Of course, once midterms and finals seasons come around, it is easy to stray from a workout routine. Keep in mind that exercising does not have to be an hour-long each time. Studies have shown that just 20 minutes a day can have significant health benefits. Some pre-health students make up for not being able to squeeze in an exercise by just eating healthy. “When I can’t go work out with my usual daily routine because I have an exam I need to study for, I just make sure I maintain a healthy diet to make up for it,” says Lookmaan Ismail. Working out is a way for Photo Manager Han Dao students to make time for “I make sure to fit exercise themselves and to develop good into my schedule every day...to life-long habits. Health care promaintain a healthy regime....It viders must take care of themis a way for me to relieve stress selves before they can begin to and just have down-time for mytake care of others. self,” said Shakir. Exercise can also provide stuStudies have shown that students with the self-confidence dents who exercise tend to have that comes with feeling healthy improved memory and learnand good about themselves. This ing. Thus, taking a break from confidence may prove a motivastudying to work out can be a tion for them to excel as individbeneficial investment that reuals and to be the competitive applicant they desire to be. n leases stress, promotes effective
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November 28, 2012
New Health Care Studies Minor By DIANA CHUNG Writer The new Health Care Studies minor is a collaboration with the Keck School of Medicine at USC to prepare students for navigating a career within the health care system. Assistant Dean for Pre-Health Undergraduate Studies Stuart Swadron says that health care professionals nowadays involves much more than the standard material taught in medical schools. “For the people that are going into medical care, I don’t think it’s any longer acceptable for them to be unaware of the legal, economic, social, political and business environments that we as physicians live in,” Swadron said. “[The students] get to learn about how it actually works, who disciplines doctors, who makes sure hospitals are doing the right things, who pays them, [and] what role the government plays in health care. There’s a whole language that the students have to learn.”
Preparing Students for the “Real World” of Medicine
Program Coordinator Erin Yamauchi stated that with the program’s expanded view of the professions involved in health care studies, the minor provides an opportunity for students of other majors to see how their fields of study can integrate with medicine. “The world is becoming much smaller due to globalization,” Yamauchi said. “The economy and everything else is becoming much more interconnected and I think there are going to be very few professions in the future that you can go into without touching upon some other profession or some other area of interest.” The elective courses are structured so that students can see how each branch of health care relates to other subjects. “A class on poisons will involve ethics, money, and economics,” Swadron said. “It will involve the concepts of government regulation because, as we take our journey learning about toxicology, it will take us to poison control centers and how those work. It will take us to public policy issues such as who decides what medicines are
Nontraditional Pre-Health Majors
available.” By bringing in faculty who specialize in each of these fields, the minor also introduces new opportunities for mentoring relationships between professors and students. “In our MEDS 490 class, directed biomedical research, [students] are paired oneon-one with a faculty member or scientist,” Yamauchi said. “The students get the opportunity to work, devise their own research question and hypothesis and work through the actual project with not only their mentor, but also the mentor’s lab assistants, the lab director, any post doctorates, and medical students who are also operating in there.” Many of the elective courses directly correlate to classes taken in medical school, allowing future medical students
What to do with an MD Degree? Alternative Career Paths in Health for Aspiring MDs By IFRAH HASSAN Editor
Courtesy of Craig Schwartz for the USC School of Dramatic Arts
By JESSICA DALLAS and TIFFANY NAZAR Associate Editor & Writer With the motivation to pursue a career in health care comes the decision to choose a pre-health major; traditional majors generally are science-based, like biology or chemistry, and nontraditional majors are often in the humanities or arts. Different majors have unique advantages and disadvantages, and a student should not choose a science-based major just for application purposes. Selecting the right major depends upon a student’s passions, abilities, and career goals. Theater A theater major requires students to critically analyze the motives and sympathies of the writers and characters in a production. Theater students also learn to organize and direct myriad elements within a performance to create a flawless product. Furthermore, theater majors are taught to tightly control their voice and movement in order to fully embody a character. Each of these skills requires the patience to hone their abilities and a great deal of self-monitoring, both of which are integral to becoming successful in the medical field. “I think that theater gives me diversity in the application process,” said Max Glickman, a fourth year pre-medical student and theater major. However, Glickman recognized the advantages and disadvantages of his major as well. “I don’t necessarily get to dive in as deeply as my friends and peers in either of my areas of study,” Glickman said. “But the advantage is, I think, that I am a really well-rounded person. This is what I wanted to do and if someone appreciates that, then it’ll get me there." Gender Studies A gender studies major allows to students to observe genderrelated issues in society from multiple angles, often requiring a great deal of analysis and critical thinking on the students’ part. Furthermore, gender studies majors are asked to contemplate how abstract ideas, theories, and generalizations affect societies and communities in practical ways. “Personally, I would say that my coursework is ‘easier’,” said Monica Ramsey, a second year pre-medical student majoring in gender studies. “Technically, I have fewer exams and less dry studying. That being said, I think my humanities classes make up the difference in their intellectual rigor.” In terms of applying to medical school, Ramsey is confident that her major will give her an advantage over students with sciencebased majors. “I believe that I am more competitive because I offer a unique outlook and perspective on the importance of medicine in a gendered context,” Ramsey said. n
to gain an advantage over their peers. “[The classes] will all give you a better understanding of what medical school is like,” Michael Habib, a professor in the program said. “Their largest advantage will...when you get to medical school, and you’ve done some of these things before. You’re not in a whole new world, and it’s going to give you a head start." n
An MD allows an individual to pursue a variety of professions not limited to a hospital setting, and many undergraduates do not consider these options when choosing a professional track. Teaching is one possible avenue for medical school graduates. The prospect of teaching at an undergraduate level or at medical schools can be attractive for clinical physicians who enjoy passing on knowledge to the next generation. However, physicians may have to balance their time in between clinical, academic, and research pursuits. Medical journalism is another option for MDs who have a passion for both the humanities and the sciences. A medical journalist communicates health-related issues and medical breakthroughs to the public. Research can be incorporated into a medical journalist’s writing to provide readers a clearer understanding of medical breakthroughs. MDs can also pursue public health and epidemiology. An epidemiologist studies the patterns and etiologies of disease prevalent in society and emphasizes disease prevention. He or she can either directly perform research on the diseases they wish to prevent or they can communicate the preventive measures necessary to hospitals and medical staff. The job opportunities for epidemiologists are diverse, ranging from the hospital setting to pharmaceutical companies, Centers for Disease Control, the United Nations and a variety of health-related organizations. Medical directors work in hospitals, clinics, nursing
homes or other healthcare facilities. A medical director oversees the training of staff and ensures the facility abides by federal, state and local laws. Overall, the medical director’s job is to ensure that the best quality of care is provided at the facility of which he or she is in charge. Medical directors often have an MBA as well. Research permits individuals to delve deeper into their specialties and further explore health-related issues. The researcher is regarded as a medical scientist and works to find treatments for diseases and to improve health. Medical scientists can work in the private sector, developing medical instruments and pharmaceutical drugs. They can also work in the government such as for the National Institutes of Health or in universities. Medical scientists can choose from several branches of research. They can work on the molecular level with signaling pathways, the clinical level with patients, or in translational research which bridges the divide between molecular advances and clinical practices. Medical consulting is available for those who have a passion for both health and business. Consultants may weigh in on medical ethics cases, improving drug efficacy, streamlining hospital procedures, or refining the way global aid organizations deliver health care. Medical consultants also advise for legislative or judicial procedures such as the passing of the Affordable Care Act. Various professions are available to those possessing a medical degree. MDs do not have to follow a traditional path and work in a hospital or a private practice clinic. Blending a medical degree with another field is a good way to pursue more than one passion at once. n
November 28, 2012
By Kausar Ali Writer
Neonatology is a relatively new subspecialty of pediatrics that has gained much ground since the 1970s. The field focuses on the care of newborn, premature, and sick babies who are placed in a specific Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the hospital. Neonatologists treat babies who are critically ill due to underdeveloped organs, breathing problems, birth defects, and other conditions upon birth. Dr. Sandip Patel, MD, a neonatologist running NICUs in several hospitals, said, “The hardest thing a neonatologist has to do is know when to let the baby grow on his own.” It is important in neonatology to allow the normal growth and development of infants without intervening too much with excessive surgeries and medications. In certain cases, performing many medical procedures and surgeries on him or her will actually put more strain on the body and limit normal growth. The educational track to become a neonatologist consists of four years of medical school, three years of a pediatric internship and residency, and three years of a neonatology fellowship. According to the Neonatal Perinatal Fellows Workforce Report, there are about 123 neonatology fellowship programs in the U.S., to which 175 fellows are recruited. A neonatologist typically works in a hospital because he or she cannot see infant patients in a private office. The salary ranges from $180,000 to $250,000 per year.
Pathology By Dalton Banh Writer
Pathology is the study and diagnosis of disease through the examination of tissues and bodily fluids. Pathologists are physicians who typically work in a laboratory located within a clinical setting, such as a community hospital or a university medical center. A smaller number of pathologists work in private labs, coroner’s offices, and forensic crime labs. According to Dr. Fa-Chyi Lee, MD, a medical oncologist and Professor at the University of New Mexico Medical School, the role of a pathologist is to characterize disease and to act as consultants to other physicians in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Pathologists not only detect abnormalities and tumors, but also monitor By Emily He chronic illnesses and the progression of cancer. Writer Lee said, “A pathologist makes a molecular diagnosis. But the job of a pathologist is beyond just deterAnesthesiologists are physicians trained to deliver mining what the disease or tumor is; the pathologist anesthesia and monitor the safety of patients during also determines what test would be useful and most surgery. This means they play an integral role in the efficient and advises us [the doctors] on how we can surgical process, not only during the surgical procedure, treat the patient better.” but before and after by alleviating pain and ensuring Pathologists perform necessary tests such as blood overall safety. counts, Pap tests, biopsies and bone marrow aspira“Anesthesiology is like a titration more than a pretions. However, according to Lee, the pathologist is scription. If [the anesthesia] works generally anonymous to patients and well, do a little more. If it doesn’t interaction is minimal. work, you need to make adjust“Pathologists generally don’t inter[An anesthesiments,” said Dr. Steven M. Haddy, act with patients. Instead, they work MD, Associate Professor of Clinical in the lab and primarily interact with ologist] must be Anesthesiology at the Keck Hospital of doctors. We tell them what we’d able to disregard the USC. like them do to, and they respond by Though anesthesiologists have the telling us what we need to do,” said outside influence choice of working in a hospital, private and deal with un- Lee. practice, or health care clinic, the hours Pathology can be branched into two can be variable and unpredictable. certainty. divisions during residency—anatomi“[The downside to anesthesiology] prical and clinical pathology. marily is lack of making your own schedLee said, “Anatomical pathologists -Dr. Steven M. Haddy Associate Professor ule. It is difficult to plan with family and work with specimens directly. For of Clinical Anesthesiology kids” Haddy said. example, they perform immunohistoWhen asked about what qualities make chemical staining to diagnose tumors for a good anesthesiologist, Haddy said stress manageand abnormal cell growth. Molecular (clinical) patholoment and the ability to work under pressure is key. gists perform tests such as DNA and RNA sequencing, “I look for those who are compulsively dedicated to and PCR.” details--not OCD. Someone who is focused and tentaClinical pathology fellowships include hematology, tive. They must be able to disregard outside influence transfusion medicine, clinical chemistry, and medical and deal with uncertainty” he said. microbiology. Haddy himself became interested in anesthesiology Pathology is a specialty that encompasses almost because “it is fulfilling to make an intervention and reevery area of medicine and pathologists play a criticeive immediate feedback” he said. cal role in patient care as a physician’s consultant. However, he also warned that the field is not as glamFor this reason, the pathologist has been traditionally orous as some other specialties which means it somenicknamed the “doctors’ doctor.” times goes unrecognized by patients and staff. Still, the “As an oncologist, I work with pathologists every future is bright for anesthesiology and he encouraged day. They determine how severe a tumor is and recomundergraduates to pursue the field if it’s their passion. mend to me possible courses of treatment. The impor“The new generation of anesthesiologists learn a diftance of their job cannot be stressed enough,” said Lee. ferent skill set from what I learned” Haddy said. “This changes the flavor of the floor. We are not looking at the same practice anymore.”
Photo illustrations by Jackie Dinh All images courtesy of google.com
For full articles and more specialties, visit www.TrojanHealthConnection.com
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Cardiology, like other medical specialties, has gone through many changes over the past couple decades. Nobody knows this better than Dr. Samee Syed, a cardiologist who has been practicing medicine for almost 30 years.“Cardiology was only one field when I completed medical school,” Syed said. “Over these thirty years, the field has expanded and advanced both in terms of knowledge and technology.” According to Syed, cardiology is also one of the most demanding and difficult medical specialties to practice in. There are many sacrifices that must be made to succeed in the field, such as time, sleep, and a personal life. “Young people should try to like what they are doing,” Syed said with respect to young, ambitious students. “They should understand what the medical specialty demands, and be prepared.” In fact, Syed himself had to give up spending time with his family in order to excel in his work life. “For me it was more time away from the family,” Syed said. Due to the current climate of health in America there a great demand for cardiologists, and cardio-subspecialists. The rise in heart disease, and other cardiovascular problems calls for more attention to the field of cardiology. According to the American Heart Association, there is a preventable death from cardiovascular disease every 35 seconds, and heart disease is currently the number one killer in America. “The number of patients needing care for the heart is much larger than other specialties,” Syed said. Cardiology is a competitive specialty, but it’s one that can give a practicing physician great satisfaction and fulfillment, according to Syed. “It requires ongoing training and education. You have to constantly update your skills and knowledge,” Syed said. “But I don’t regret what I have done.”
“One out of every six patients that enters the hospital is a neurology patient,” said Dr. Leslie Weiner, MD, former Chair of the Department of Neurology at the Keck School of Medicine. With stroke being the third-leading cause of death in the United States and neurological disorders being the leading cause of disability, neurology has come into its own as an important field in the medical world. Neurology is an increasingly popular field, currently populated by around 16,000 licensed physicians. These doctors see patients dealing with a variety of different disorders and diseases, from Alzheimer’s Disease to Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and stroke. However, neurologists also see patients with more common problems such as migraines, seizures and neck pain. Neurology also tends to require a certain type of personality. “It’s intellectually quite challenging,” Weiner said. “Neurology is complicated. The brain is complicated. You have to be curious and like to think about problems.” Not all neurology cases are straightforward. If an MRI is not enough to give you a clear picture of what is going on in the patient, the diagnosis can be quite challenging. In addition, sometimes an MRI can look positive for one disease while the tissue biopsies simultaneously test negative, so neurologists must always think about alternate solutions to problems. In the end, however, the most important quality that an aspiring neurologist should possess is a genuine passion for the field. “Follow what you’re most interested in,” Weiner said. “Do what you think will do the most good.”
students interested in arthritis and other cone disorders might consider rheumatology as an icine specialty in musculoskeletal disease. Rheutreat a variety of conditions involving pain and n in bones, joints, muscles, and the tissues that m. t specialty if you’re interested in high technology ing edge of medicine,” said Dr. Daniel Arkfeld, ld is always evolving and it’s very conducive to ose relationships with patients.” s Christianakis, MD, also saw rheumatology as a connect with patients on a more personal level. edical school I wanted to pursue orthopedic surd, “But then I realized that I enjoyed my rounds clinic more than the ones spent in the OR. rgery is more isolated and detached, pursuing y allowed me to develop long-term relationships s.” ritis (OA) is the most common disease that falls risdiction of rheumatology, as it affects approxity-seven million Americans. Also known as wear hritis, osteoarthritis is generally the result of agaracterized by the breakdown of cartilage. This to rub together, which results in pain, swelling, . revalent disorder is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), s about 1.3 million Americans. Research on or RA is being conducted by physicians like Dr. alba, MD, who said, “technology is a gift when it ing the puzzle that is RA treatment. Equipment nd has been hugely essential to the progress that and hopefully will continue to make.”
Reconstructive surgery, with its endless ange of application and demanding level of echnical proficiency, attracts self-critical and daptive surgeons who are constantly in the ursuit of perfection and never accept their uccesses without first examining their failures. Unlike other surgical fields where surgeons might perform identical surgeries countless imes, every reconstructive surgery presents unique challenge. From facial deformities to joint abnormaliies and traumatic injury sites, no two proceures are same, making reconstructive surery very difficult to master. Because of this, he most important quality in an aspiring econstructive surgeon is his or her ability to espond to failure. Dr. Jeffrey Hammoudeh, MD, a pediatric lastic and craniofacial surgeon at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, said he likes the word ailure. He cited his ability to learn from his ailures as the reason behind the level of masery he exhibits today. “No matter how well you complete an opertion,” he said, “you can just accept your level f performance, or push yourself to do better.” While a reconstructive surgeon might pend a typical workday performing skin rafts to heal burned skin or donating time to
By Kristianna Gadalla
By Manu Gandham
November 28, 2012
perform pro-bono cleft-palate corrections for underprivileged children, every operation presents with a unique set of circumstances that requires the surgeon to be strategically adaptive. Hammoudeh said that even his mentors, reconstructive surgery veterans, still push themselves to achieve the elusive goal of a perfect surgical reconstruction. Hammoudeh said he first became interested in pediatric reconstructive surgery after realizing that in just one operation, he could dramatically improve the quality of a child’s life. For example, just one procedure to repair a child’s cleft-lip or cleft palate can allow the child to eat, drink and speak normally, granting them a life free from challenging developmental complications. However, the transformative power of reconstructive surgery goes beyond restoring function to damaged or disfigured body parts. “Even something as simple as removing a mole on the forehead of a child,” Hammoudeh said, “can significantly improve the child’s psychological health, when you understand that the child is going to go to school and may be made fun of or bullied.” For those who are inspired to continuously raise their standards for success, repairing children’s smiles may just be the first of many rewards.
Pediatric Surgery By Amanda Ciozda Web Manager
For pediatric surgical resident Dr. Megan Groff, a typical workday can often be unpredictable. Although it always begin with rounds, during which the incoming surgical team learns about the approximately fifty patients for whom they will be responsible that day, the rest of the day may include a variety of tasks, such as caring for patients in the surgical wards, monitoring the progress of patients in the ICU, consulting on trauma cases, or performing scheduled surgical procedures. For Groff, the ability to intervene and alter a patient’s quality of life attracted her to the surgical profession. “You can drastically change somebody’s life pretty quickly,” she says. The variety of surgical work she performs as pediatric surgeon is also appealing to her. “Pediatric general surgeons perform operations on every organ system except the brain, heart, and bone, [whereas] adult general surgeons often subspecialize.” Additionally, she finds working with younger patients enjoyable, although the approach can be very different from working with adults. “Kids get better faster than adults do, and they often bounce back to their previous level of functioning….It is a very different dynamic treating a young patient compared to treating an eighty year-old who has lived a long life. [Additionally,] in this field, you are not only taking care of the child, but also the parents.” Groff would advise pre-medical students not to limit themselves by deciding to enter a particular area of medicine too early. “When you are pre-med, you need to think about the general picturewhether or not medicine is right for you,” she says. “Once you start medical school you can start considering a specific specialty so you can strengthen your residency application with certain activities and learning what area of medicine your personality might work well in.” While some aspects of her job, such time management and performing difficult surgical skills, can be challenging at times, Groff enjoys the satisfaction she receives when she sees her patients functioning as happy, healthy children. “The most rewarding part of this job is seeing our sickest patients go home. When they come back to visit looking like normal kids, I know I have made a difference.”
November 28, 2012
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Volunteering and Shadowing with Hudson Clinic Volunteers By LYNN BENJAUTHRIT Writer Hudson Clinic Volunteers (HCV) is a new organization initiated last spring by Dr. Kenneth Geller, MD, Director of the Pre-Health Advisement Office. HCV aims to benefit both pre-health students and the local community through a volunteering and shadowing program at the H. Claude Hudson Comprehensive Health Center Urgent Care Clinic, located five blocks away from USC. The formation of HCV simultaneously serves the demands of pre-health students for clinical experiences and the needs of Hudson Clinic for volunteers. “I was having tremendous difficulty getting our students cleared to do shadowing and volunteering at LA County + USC Medical Center,” Geller said. “The process became so difficult for lots of reasons and a lot of the students were getting discouraged.” HCV provides students a more organized
alternative for clinical experience in a similar patient population. In addition, the Hudson Clinic is in need of volunteer assistance to reduce the overflowing demand for emergency room services among uninsured patients in South Los Angeles. “Since Hudson Clinic doesn’t get funding for staff, they only get funding for doctors and nurses,” said Mallory Jebbia, a HCV founder and 2012 USC graduate. “They don’t have enough volunteers to do the clerical tasks and to take care of patient flow.” Considering the wide range of services offered at Hudson clinic and its underserved patient population, HCV provides a diverse learning experience for volunteers. “They have a women’s clinic, they have pediatrics, they have urgent care, and they actually do surgery there,” said Geller. “So, there are all these opportunities for the students to experience and shadow.” HCV also includes opportunities for students interested in other areas of medicine. “Students can shadow physicians and nurses and even pharmacists. They can
shadow the health administrator and learn what it is to be a health administrator instead of going to medical school,” Geller said.
H. Claude Hudson Comprehensive Health Center Urgent Care Clinic.
Although HCV is currently still in the developmental stages of helping students obtain clearance and badges, Geller and a group of students have already helped to pave the road.
BMEStart Creates Medical Devices of the Future By ANNETTE EOM Writer BMEStart is a USC student organization part of the Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering (ASBME). It is named after the national conference BMEStart, a medical device design competition for undergraduate biomedical engineering students. The competition BMEStart is open to undergraduate students to develop a device or technology designed to solve such devices with problems in the medical or clinical care field. Participants submit their projects in early May and the finalists are
Web Manager Amanda Ciozda
announced by the end of July. Clemson University won the competition for 2012. The main objective of this club is to improve the flaws of current medical devices and to invent effective medical technologies to solve current clinical problems. Students participating in USC BMEStart work throughout the whole academic year. During the fall semester, the club has several general meetings in which students brainstorm ideas for the upcoming competition in order to decide on which idea to focus on. Students consult with health professionals, professors, or people working at the emergency room to obtain outside ideas and field expertise. Students then break up into three different groups, research, development, and business, to make a design during the spring semester so that they could submit their work in May. The club is composed of two co-chairs, three upperclassmen captains, two underclassmen captains, and around 50 active members. Velin Tchalakov, a senior in Biomedical Engineering and one of the co-chairs, said the club received a lot of help this year from Dr. Gerald Loeb, MD, a professor in Biomedical Engineering at USC. Tchalakov said, “All the professors are very insightful and willing to help whenever we ask for it.”
Currently, they are working on ideas such as the glucose sugar level test, bite blocks used in dentistry and a pill dispenser for elderly. The final idea that BMEStart will be working on for this academic year has not been chosen yet. Unfortunately USC BMEStart did not make it to the finals for the BMEStart competition last year. However, they received funding from USC Viterbi School of Engineering and were invited to make a speech at the 2012 USC Student Innovator Showcase sponsored by the Stevens Institute of Innovation on Friday, October 19. As most of the team leaders are graduating this year, the club is at a transitional point. Tchalakov said “We are looking forward to pass all this to the next generation and we are looking for passionate individuals to continue on challenging on the competition.” He said, “The biggest benefit of this organization is that it is a great experience to have a chance to acknowledge the problems out there and have an idea to fix them. “Classes do not necessarily give you a chance to go out and figure stuff out by yourself but this actually teaches you what it takes to think of something brand new.” n
“To volunteer at Hudson, students need to go through LA County to get a badge, anyway. So we worked on the applications this summer to make sure they won’t get sent back, which is what happens a lot of the time,” Jebbia said. Students may also find the volunteer shift system to be more facilitated. Designed to be fair and sustainable, HCV implements a system in which underclassmen must volunteer a certain number of hours before transitioning to shadowing. Though there are many reasons to join HCV, Geller believes HCV’s mission resounds with most pre-health students. “We want to become pre-health students because we want to become physicians to help the community. Otherwise we wouldn’t go through all that training for 15 years. You have to have it in your heart to do it, and here’s an opportunity that’s five blocks from here,” Geller said. Interested students may contact USC’s Pre-Health Advisement Office, located at FIG 107, for more information. n
Trojan Vision Broadcasts on Health Issues By ABRAM ESTEFANOUS Writer The Trojan Health Show is a new student-run television program airing on Trojan Vision starting next semester in spring 2013 that aims to inform USC students about prevalent health issues among college students. “This show is more attractive to college students with topics like pregnancy and contraception,” producer and USC senior Craig Hung said. In order to focus on health issues relevant to the USC student body, the Trojan Health Show producers work closely with the show’s sponsor, University Park Health Center. Thus, the show’s selected topics, ranging from fitness and nutrition to immunization and health insurance, align with the recurring health issues that the Health Center faculty handles.
Remedy through Music Provides Unique Therapy By NICOLE BASLER Writer The impact of music on health and medicine and its therapeutical potential is a concept long research. Now, a group of USC students have brought this theory to practice in the greater Los Angeles community through the organization Remedy through Music (RTHM). RTHM is a student-run philanthropic club of student musicians committed to providing music therapy to medical and care centers across Los Angeles County. One to two times per week, a group of 10-15 students travel to hospitals, convalescent homes, and medical care centers to perform for the patients in these locations. They perform a variety of musical genres from classical to pop in a relaxed and casual environment. Songs by artists from Bach to the Beatles are sung and played using a range of instruments from the acoustic guitar to the French horn. Sara Ford, Co-President of RTHM, says, “We get a large audience, so we try to make our performances as interactive as possible. The patients and their families, even the doctors and the staff, stop and listen. They get really interested in our work and ask a lot of questions too.” Students also play for the patients in their rooms in an interactive, intimate
setting. RTHM’s members communicate with the patients and take song requests. Ford says, “The goal of RTHM is to spread the joy of music to people who don’t have the opportunity of experiencing live music. Hearing us play is an intense experience for them….especially coming from
in the organization are pursuing prehealth tracks at USC. RTHM allows these students to utilize music therapeutically to improve the health of individuals with diseases or mental illnesses. The organization believes that a single song can greatly improve an individual’s overall well-being. “When we first arrive [at the centers], the general atmosphere is… cold and detached. No one wants to be there…you can feel the tension.” Ford continues, “We use music to create a cohesive community through a creative outlet. We can detect a change…a sense of action and expression in even the most passive of patients.” RTHM’s E-board plans to expand the club’s presence by playing at more locations and spreading greater awareness of its work and impact through social media, rehearsals, meetings and fundraisers. Photo Manager Ford adds, “Remedy through such young performers.” Music is truly a unique and rewardRTHM’s members usually perform ing club. It combines diverse values and on Friday afternoons and occasionally passions into one community and group Sunday services. The club members regu– service, health and music. [It] embodies larly visit four to five locations, including the best of various worlds.” California Hospital Medical Center and Club membership does not require an Grand Park Medical Center. In addition, application but prospective members need RTHM holds general meetings and occaprevious instrumental or vocal experience. sional rehearsals before the performances. For more information, please email the club at firstname.lastname@example.org. n A majority of the students participating
Courtesy Trojan Vision “Each of these issues tackles an aspect of a college student’s life,” Hung said. Although the show is student-run, the doctors and nurses of the University Park Health Center write the scripts. The student producers and hosts, however, will breathe life into the issues through the talk show-like episodes, dramatizations of real-life events, and student interviews. Aside from the show’s college-specific health issues, The Trojan Health Show is different from popular health programs like “The Dr. Oz Show” because of the diverse and mostly student-run crew; including executive producer Richard Goldlander, a USC film student, and hosts Hung and Diana Zardouz, undergraduate students at the USC School Davis of Gerontology and the Ostrow School of Dentistry, respectively. “I feel that if you have healthy people, you have happy people,” Hung said. With this emphasis on health, The Trojan Health Show crew is currently preparing for Trojan Vision’s first health show and hopes to release the first episode in January or February 2013. “We look forward to developing the show and seeing its success moving forward,” Goldlander said. To watch the Trojan Health Show, tune into the Trojan Vision channel or check the website at tv8-1.usc.edu. n
November 28, 2012
Becoming a Physician Assistant: An Overview pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) to become certified. They can also complete a clinical postgraduate program similar to the residency program required for all doctors. These optional clinical training courses include specialties such as neurology, trauma, and oncology; there are currently 50 member programs that make up the Association of Postgraduate Physician Assistant Programs. In order to retain their licenses, PAs must also complete a number of continuing education requirements. Every two years, they must log 100 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) hours and re-register their certificate. Every six years, they must gain their recertification by completing the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANCE) or complete an alternative program that combines learning experience and a take-home exam. The largest single employer of PAs is currently the Department of Veterans Affairs. However the majority of PAs (56 percent) work in physicians’ offices or clinics; another 24 percent work in hospitals. This means that, like doctors, many physician assistants work weekends, nights, and holidays. In addition, they may be on call and thus required to respond should a medical emergency arise. “I’m really interested in medicine
but I don’t necessarily want it to take over my life…” said Manglani. “[In addition] I’ve shadowed both physicians and PAs, and I feel that PAs spend more time with their patients... although a lot of patients actually mistake the PAs for doctors.” According to PayScale, the average salary for a PA was $86,000 in 2010, compared to $72,000 for occupational therapists, $65,000 for registered nurses, and $146,000 for primary care physicians in the same year. With education costs and years of training taken into consideration, a study from the Journal of Human Capital shows that female PAs earn approximately the same lifetime earnings of their female primary care physician counterparts. The Atlantic suggests that female PAs will actually earn more. The demand for PAs and primary care is still on the rise. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30 percent increase in job openings for PAs from 2010 to 2020, in part because PAs may be more cost-effective while delivering a comparable level of care as primary-care physicians. For students looking for multiple options in the health care field, physician assisting proves a viable and challenging option which still affords reasonable lifestyle benefits. For more information on PAs and resources towards becoming a PA, please visit us at www. TrojanHealthConnection.com n
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30% increase in job openings for PAs from 2010 to 2020.
Physician Assistants are licensed medical practioners who dianose and treat illnesses and prescribe medications under a physician’s sponsorship. — from PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS, page 1
...programs are graduate courses that take approximately two years to complete. Incoming PAs typically have a bachelor’s degree and, depending on the PA program, have taken prerequisite science courses such as biology, chemistry, and physiology. As of 2011, there were 165 programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education, including one at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. The program curriculum is similar to medical school curricula in that
they combine coursework with clinical training. The subjects covered are also much the same as the topics covered in the first two years of medical school. The subjects include medical ethics, physiology, and behavioral science, among others. PAs also must complete over 2,000 hours of clinical rotations in areas such as family medicine, internal medicine, general surgery, psychiatry, and pediatrics. There is an emphasis on primary care in ambulatory clinics, physician offices, and long-term care facilities. After graduation, students must
Physician Assistants vs. Other Careers By CHRISTINE LEE Editor Pre-health students who are interested in treating patients but are concerned about the time commitment and intensity of medical school may be interested in becoming physician assistants (PAs). Physician assistant programs typically last two years, and students can obtain the title of Physician Assistant-Certified (PAC) without undergoing a residency or internship. With this degree, physician assistants can mostly perform the same tasks as physicians: diagnosing and treating, ordering and interpreting tests, assisting in surgery, and writing prescriptions. “Even though becoming a doctor was a likely choice, I didn’t want to dedicate so much time in school,” Rebecca Mall, a PA at LAC+USC Medical Center, said. “I wanted to begin my future already--have a family and work.” PAs act as primary caretakers, similar to physicians, and they are normally required to take similar classes as medical students. However, there is just one year of preclinical study and one year of clinical experience, during which students participate in rotations. While most aspiring physicians will continue their education with an internship and residency in their chosen specialty, physician assistants can start working immediately after graduation and in a variety of specialties. “I love the fact the PAs don’t have to choose a specialty. They have to acquire general knowledge of everything,” Mall said. “I have worked in Orthopedics, Pediatrics, and Emergency.” With the ability to practice generally in different specialties, physician assistants
naturally handle cases that are less complicated than a physician’s. They must also be under the constant supervision of a physician and thus have a shared responsibility for the patient rather than a full responsibility as the supervising physician would. “Although I don’t get to make final calls on diagnosis for patients, having to refer to doctors gives me the opportunity to learn and reinforce my decisions,” Mall said. “I also love working with my colleagues.” Pre-health students who think becoming a physician assistant is a suitable career path for them may also benefit from learning about being a nurse practitioner. In practice, nurse practitioners and physician assistants often perform the same tasks. Like PAs, nurse practitioners hold a Master’s Degree and can diagnose and treat most common illnesses. Both need to take state board exams and licensing and accreditation exams every few years. pap.med.ufl.edu However, both require less schooling than physicians and thus allow more for more flexibility and time for family. The main difference between a PA and nurse practitioner lies in the training. Physician assistant programs typically follow a medical model, preclinical courses before clinical experience. Aspiring students can enter the program without a former occupation in the health care field. Nurse practitioners, on the other hand, generally obtain roughly ten years of nursing experience before getting their Master’s Degree. Thus, pre-health students may want to consider if they would prefer to attend professional school after working as a nurse or if they would prefer applying to a physician assistant program without as much prior experience and following training that is more similar to that of medical school. n
Physician Assistant vs. M.D. P.A. Education Requirements: 2-3 Years PA School 1 Year Optional Residency PANCE Certification Exam 100 Continuing Medical Education Hours PA School: Number of Schools: 156 Average Size of Incoming Class: 186 Average Incoming Age: 27.8 Average Admitted GPA:3.41 Required Courses for Admission: One year biology One year general chemistry One year anatomy One semester psychology One semester physiology One semester statistics One semester microbiology One semester spanish language Application Requirements: CASPA Application GRE or MCAT Average School Tuition (2010-11): Public: $31,210/year Private: $65,573/year Average Debt Upon Graduation: $100,000 Median Salary (2011): $78,000 Normalized Lifetime Earnings: $2.7 million Projected Job Growth (2010-20): Percent Increase: 30 Lifestyle Regular hours with moderate stress. Can include night shifts and varies by specialty. Specialties Geriatric, Surgery (1st or 2nd Assistant), Emergency Care
M.D. Education Requirements: 4 Years Medical School 3-8 Internship and Residency National Board Examination Board Examination for Specialty Medical School: Number of Schools: 134 Average Size of Incoming Class: 136 Applicants in 2010: 42,742 Admitted: 18,665 (43.67 percent) Average Incoming Age: 24 Average Admitted GPA: 3.67 Required Courses for Admission One year biology One year general chemistry One year physics One year statistics/calculus One semester organic chemistry One semester biochemistry Application Requirements: AMCAS Application MCAT Average School Tuition (201011): Public: $28,685/year for in-state $32,900/year for out-of-state Private: $46,899/year Average Debt Upon Graduation: $160,000 Median Salary (2008): Internal Medicine = 183,605/yr Specialties = $339,738/yr Normalized Lifetime Earnings: Internal Medicine - $6.8 million Specialties - $11.6 million Projected Job Growth (2010-20): Percent Increase: 24 Lifestyle Depends on specialty; can include emergency hours and night shifts. Moderate to high stress.
Data was compiled from American Association of Medical Colleges, American Assocation of Physician Assistants, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Employment Index, Payscale.com, and the Physician Assistant Education Association EDITOR LESLIE WU, EHSUPDATE.COM
November 28 2012
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The Psych Path : Psychology and Psychiatry
By LINDA TSUI Writer
The terms clinical psychologist and psychiatrist have come to be used almost interchangeably to describe anyone who provides psychological care. A common misconception of clinical psychologists is that they are physicians who are able to prescribe medication, yet this is only true in a few states. A clinical psychologist has a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology) and focuses on research or obtained a Psy.D. (Doctorate in Psychology) which prepares students to practice clinical or counseling psychology. The doctoral program, which is in a specific area of psychology, usually takes five
- Doctorate degree in Psychology
- Doctorate in Medicine (M.D.)
- 4 years of undergraduate education - 5 - 7 years of graduate study - 2 years of internship
- 4 years of undergraduate education - 4 years of medical school - 4 years of residency
- Unable to prescribe medication in most places
- Able to prescribe
to seven years to complete. Once the doctoral degree is completed, most states require a two-year internship before applying for a license. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are physicians with a degree in medicine (MD), giving them the ability to prescribe medication. Like other medical school students, they go through four years of
residency training before taking an examination and applying for board certification to be licensed to practice psychiatry. The entire process spans 12 years. Although some of the job descriptions of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists overlap, there are distinctions. Clinical psychologists typically work in private clinics, hospitals, or counseling centers.
The majority of their patients suffer from emotional and mental anxiety, and with psychotherapy, clinical psychologists improve patients’ mental health and prevent future distress. Psychiatrists diagnose patients with mental illnesses and prescribe medications that help treat the mental symptoms. Common treatment methods used by psychiatrists include psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, hospitalization, and medication. Psychiatry is not only for people with severe psychological illnesses (e.g. bipolar disorder and schizophrenia), as many psychiatrists also work with patients who do not require medication. For those interested in the medical treatment of illnesses, psychiatry is the way to go. Those more intrigued by psychotherapies and the science of psychology might consider clinical psychology. n
Clinic Offers Free Dental and Medical Services to Underprivileged By Lu Tian Writer
Founded in 1966, Tzu Chi is an international nonprofit organization that strives to “care with compassion, give with joy.” As one of the largest non-governmental organizations around the world, Tzu Chi focuses its efforts on community service. In California alone, Tzu Chi has three clinics in full operation, which are located in Wilmington, El Monte, and Alhambra. In addition to the free clinics, Tzu Chi began its outreach services in 1994, which currently has four regular rotating sites at San Bernardino, Bakersfield, Lancaster and Rosamond. “One of our goals for these outreach events is to provide quality primary medical care for underprivileged people,” Dr. Peter Chen, one of Tzu Chi’s core organizers for the Los Angeles medical outreach program, said. “We provide free health screenings, oral screenings, skin test, blood test, artery and bone density
checkups, and dental services.” Since this outreach occurs only once every month, there are always many opportunities for volunteers. Volunteers who do not have any experience in the health care field can assist in general tasks such as registering patients, escorting them to the designated medical units, helping out the handicapped, or moving tents to provide shades for the patients. For those that do have experience, they can be involved in more specialized tasks, such as taking blood pressure and assisting dentists. “Even though this outreach occurs only once every month, it gets really busy on that Sunday. Though we start at 9 AM, we have to set up all the stations, medical and dental equipment, and the tents that the patients are staying in beforehand,” said Chen. “So, if you are interested in volunteering, there are a lot of ways you can help out.” Tzu Chi provides free training for anyone interested in becoming a medical or dental assistant at the outreach.
Media and Medicine
The dental assistant course usually occurs from June through July for 8 weeks. There are two classes each week on Wednesday and Thursday from 7 PM-9:30 PM. Upon completing the training course, they must shadow and intern for 60 hours at one of Tzu Chi’s free clinics. Letters of recommendation may be provided upon completion of the program. Chen hopes that through volunteerism, students can gain compassion and humility in addition to technical Courtesy Tzu Chi Clinic knowledge about dentistry. A Tzu Chi clinic dentist cleans the teeth of a “Tzu Chi’s guiding prin- patient, one of the many services the clinic ciples for relief raised in the provides to people without insurance. name of these patients is Students who are interested in learnused 100% on them. We reing more can call the El Monte clinic at ally hope that through these services, we (626) 636-8700 or email them at info@ can all become more like Buddha, to gain us.tzuchi.org. n joy by helping others.”
From useful MCAT study tips to medical jokes, each pre-med student will benefit from these resources.
By Amanda Ciozda and Andrea Alonso Web Manager & Writer
Twitter: Looking for medical advice on the go? The Twitter handle @Medschooladvice offers advice for pre-medical students, medical students, and residents. Dr. Sunjay Kansagra, or “Dr. K,” clarifies misconceptions about almost every aspect of medical education, from medical school personal statements to third year medical school rotations and choosing a residency program. “If you don’t see that the practice of medicine is an amazing privilege, you are doing yourself (and the rest of us) a grave disservice.” If you crave this type of inspirational “food for thought”, @Medicalaxioms serves a daily dose of medical wisdom. Dr. Mark Reid presents a thoughtful perspective on healthcare careers. Tweeting links to articles about healthcare, healthy lifestyles, and groundbreaking research, The Mayo Clinic, @MayoClinic, is a great resource to stay up-to-date on new developments in the medical field. Medical Student Problems, @medstudentprobl, is a humorous antidote for a long night of studying. By retweeting the amusing observations from medical students, this Twitter handle offers a lighthearted perspective on medical school. YouTube: Not sure if healthcare is for you? Are you fascinated by a specific medical specialty and would like to learn more? YouTube is an instant way to virtually walk in the shoes of a medical professional. The most efficient way to access medical contect is through YouTube Education. With videos ranging from “The Art and Science of Dermatology” to “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”, YouTube Education offers its users an expansive and into the world of medicine. Tumblrs and Blogs: Between deciphering the convoluted language of primary research articles and digesting every sentence of biochemistry textbooks, at times we
pre-meds forget the meaning of the phrase “light reading.” In order to feed your mind some written word, we have compiled a list of blogs. Action Potential (apotential.wordpress.com) This blog is home to the intuitive ramblings of a third year student at Metropolis Medical School, who tries to tackle the seemingly endless and outright daunting question: “What’s med school like?” It’s also a goldmine for clinical, medical and anatomical mnemonics--the universal language of pre-health students. Repeat after me, “Maggie May Does Not Smoke,” which google mnemonic translate (if such a beautiful thing existed) would decode as “Mutations, Migration, genetic Drift, Nonrandom mating and selection.” Bad Science (www.badscience.net) Bad Science serves as Dr. Ben Goldacre’s deep cavern full of blogposts, articles, audio bits and video clips. Goldacre is a successful author, medical doctor, academic and broadcaster, whose philosophy is to denounce “bad science” in order to unravel legitimate and well-backed science. His weekly Bad Science columns from the Guardian, a British daily newspaper, can be found in the site’s archives, where he has written about topics ranging from chocolate to climate change. Goldacre’s writing collection can satiate the curious minds of science fiends. #TotalPreMedMove (totalpremedmove.tumblr. com)
Sparked by the #whatshouldwecallme revolution, #TotalPreMedMove is a place where pre-meds can come together as one and laugh at the universal trials and tribulations experienced by those trudging through the pre-med track. The humorous GIFs and relatable captions allow pre-meds all over the world to step back from the lab reports, MCAT flashcards and o-chem problem sets to see the bit of humor in their usually-humorless plight. More blogs and Tumblrs worthy of your time: 365 Rules for Pre-meds; Medical State of Mind; Wayfaring MD; Skeptical Scalpel; Panda Bear, MD; Think Like a Doctor; Ziyad MD; The Not Quite Doctor. Apps: WebMD For all those who suffer from an addiction to the medical information jackpot that is WebMD, this free app only further fosters the obsession with the online diagnosing guru. The app offers an incredibly navigable “symptom checker” where users simply tap on the location of the symptoms, click on the correct symptom listed and then view a list of possible conditions. The app also includes a handy “Local Health Listings,” which helps you easily search a nearby physician, pharmacy or hospital. MCAT Prep The free app offers a new MCAT question every day, as well as an archive of previous questions, categorized in one of the four revered sciences: physics, chemistry, biology and organic chemistry. To keep track of your progress, the app includes a “My Stats” element that shows your score compared to other users. MedMentor Created to ease the medical school application process, this app helps students track their hours of shadowing, leadership, volunteering, research and clinical experience. It also includes space to document the deluge of information needed to fill out applications, including supervisors, application ID numbers and the like. n
Trojan Health Connection Fall 2012 issue published on November 28, 2012.