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University of Southern California Volume III | Issue II May 1, 2013

Inside the Issue Energy Drinks 2

Trojans Bring Medical Aid to Ghana and Honduras

The Incredible Otana Jakpor 3

By KELSI CHESNEY, AISHA LODIN, IFRAH HASSAN, GURLEEN CHADHA, & JACKIE DINH Writer, Editor, Editor, Section Editor, and Layout Editor

Pre-Med Athletes 4 Foreign Medical Schools 5 The New MEDS minor 6-7 MCAT, DAT. GRE Prep Books 8 Paramedics and EMTs 9

Above: Suitcases stuffed with a variety of medical supplies. Top: Freshman Helen Chou and junior Andres Park listen to a patient describe her symptoms. Consultations can be challenging due to language barriers.

Campus Health Activities 10

Left: After walking for miles, Hondurans queue in line for hours to see GMB doctors.

Medicine in Culture 11

Photos courtesy of Helen Chou.

HSPS: Medical School On the Military’s Dime By ALLIE FARINACCI Editor So you want to be a doctor. Four years of medical school will cost you $120,000 in tuition alone at a public school and close to $200,000 at a private institution. The average medical student graduates with $160,000 in debt. What if there was another option, one that would leave you debt-free, cover all of your expenses, give you a substantial monthly stipend, and pay you $20,000 just for signing up? Welcome to the Health Professions Scholarship Program. HPSP is offered through the U.S.

HPSP students participate in a training exercise.


New Minor: Health Care Studies

Army. It is analogous to the ROTC programs common on college campuses, whereby students receive four-year full tuition and cost of living scholarships in exchange for years of military service after graduation. In comparison, HPSP offers members full tuition scholarships as well as compensation for books, equipment, academic fees, food, and lodging. It is available to qualifying students at any “accredited medical, dental, optometry, veterinary, psychiatric nurse practitioner, clinical or counseling psychology programs” in the United States or Puerto — see ARMY DOCTORS, page 5

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences has partnered with the Keck School of Medicine to offer a new minor in Health Care Studies which began enrolling students last year. While the new minor is geared toward students who want to pursue a career related to health care, Medical Sciences (MEDS) courses are open to all majors, even students who aren’t currently enrolled in the minor. The minor offers a variety of courses in classroom and clinical settings, including Challenges in Biomedical Ethics (MEDS 260), Introduction to Surgical Principles (MEDS 440), Wilderness and Survival Medicine (MEDS 465), among many other upper division electives. A diverse mix of health professionals from both campuses will teach the classes. Professors and guest speakers comprise of dentists, engineers, physicians, biomedical researchers, pharmacists, health care administrators, and international health experts. Keck medical students and residents also guest lecture. Turn to pages 6 and 7 for a detailed look at the Health Sciences Minor classes and an interview with assistant Dean Dr. Swadron. For unit requirements and a full list of the courses offered, visit — see NEW MINOR, pages 6 and 7

Global Medical Brigades Abroad By HELEN CHOU & NICOLE BASLER Writers

Many pre-health students dream about studying abroad and traveling. Global Medical Brigades (GMB) offers the best of both worlds. GMB conducts service trips to Honduras and Ghana and sends a team of students and doctors to serve communities with limited access to healthcare. Two USC students, Helen Chou and Isabella Wu, travelled to Honduras and Ghana with GMB and have shared their memorable trip with THC. Here, Chou gives us a day by day overview of her experience in Honduras. Day 1: First day of official brigading! Thirty minutes on the road found us at a small school in Las Champas where there already stood a line of people, old and young alike, waiting for us. My first shift was at the dental station. I helped lay out instruments and anesthesia. There was no electricity in the room, so the only light was the sunlight filtering in through the barred windows. The room was dirty, and we were battling insects left and right. The next two hours consisted of handing Dr. Frank, the Honduran dentist, the tools he needed. Watching the extractions was uncomfortable, yet fascinating at the same time. Day 2: After going through triage, the patients saw the doctors. Dr. Ricardo would converse with the patient sand stop to translate for me. Many of the patients showed up with headaches or dizziness. After an hour of consultation, I made a

Writer Helen Chou

Writer Helen Chou

visit with Dr. Ricardo to an epileptic patient and his mother. As we questioned the mother, we realized that she did not know what medication her son takes. Frustrated, the doctor asked the son. He knew the drug’s name, but it was difficult for him to communicate further. Day 3: Today brought us to the community of Manzaragua. By the time we arrived, the line of patients stretched around the building. My day started in triage, where we interacted directly with the many patients there, asking them about their medical history and symptoms and taking their — see BRIGADERS, page 12

Featured Profession: Paramedics | Social Impact: Media and Medicine | Article Exclusive: Insights into the new minor


May 1, 2013

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Letter from the Editors-in-Chief











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Medical Specialty

Stereotypes By JOHN TANAKA Writer

Orthopedic Surgeons: These doctors are the meatheads of the profession. Known to “hit the gym” after work. Commonly nicknamed the “Jersey Shore Crew” of each hospital staff. Emergency Medicine: The cowboys. Known to “slightly” exaggerate when it comes to severity of injuries. Neurosurgery: Their home is their office. Known to be constantly working. Some may label egotistical. OB-GYN: Always overworked. Extremely grumpy, viewed by others as harsh and insensitive. Favorite term is “push.” Psychiatry: The “doctor.” Commonly asked question “So you’re the same as a psychologist right?” Family Medicine: The Hippy Country Doctor. Doesn’t feel the need to shave or have regular haircuts. All natural, takes payment in the form of vegetables. Pediatrics: The Mister Rogers meets Barney of medicine. Common statements to kids: “This will only be a pinch” and “It will only take a second”. Both statements are usually a lie. Only tolerated because of Spongbob Band-Aids and stickers. Radiology: Vampires. Are afraid of the light. Somehow make bank. Neurology: How are you so smart?! Dermatology: Premadonna, 90210 meets the hospital. Sometimes viewed as “Bro, do you even work?” Anesthesiology: “Bro, do you even work?’ Radiation Oncology: “Bro, do you even exist?” 

The Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor


ear Reader, Thanks to your loyal following and the hard work of the staff, Trojan Health Connection has marked our fourth semester of publication with a four-page expansion this issue. Our extra pages have given us the opportunity to present greater coverage of popular Pre-Med Activities on pages 4 and 5. Learn about the new Multiple Mini Interview method that greater numbers of medical schools are adopting as part of their admissions process, or the strategies pre-med athletes utilize to maintain the thin balance between work and personal life. Page 5 covers opportunities for students interested in unique and offbeat medical tracks, including studying

medicine abroad or enlisting in military medicine. This issue’s centerspread provide a comprehensive overlay of the new MEDS courses for the Health Care Studies Minor, an unprecendented expansion and committment to pre-health education and preparation by USC. Turn to pages 6 and 7 of this in-depth and hands-on experience in the clinical and research realms of medicine. MEDS 320 offers a rare opportunity for undergraduates to gain valuable anatomical experience working with cadavers. To prepare students for the clinical experience, MEDS 220 exposes students to medical ethics, the healthcare system, and the cultural competency expected of future health professionals.

The Cult of Caffeine By DALTON BANH Writer

It’s 3 AM, and you’re struggling just to stay awake. You have an outrageous amount of work left to finish. You desperately try to regain your focus but it’s no use. Your body and mind are both exhausted. You crawl to the fridge for a can of Red Bull. As college students, we have all experienced this before; caffeinated drinks are often synonymous with college culture. A 2007 study on energy drink usage in college students found that the most popular reason was to function with insufficient sleep. Energy drinks were also used for to study, to drive for long periods, to mix with alcohol, and to treat hangovers. Sean Nordt, M.D., Pharm.D., emergency physician and medical toxicologist at the Keck School of Medicine, said of alcohol-energy drink mixtures: “It’s actually more dangerous because the energy drink gives the person a sense of awakeness, even though they are still intoxicated by the alcohol. Because they feel awake, they are more likely to engage in high-risk activity.” Worldwide, companies are advertising towards teenagers and making

energy drinks readily available in convenience stores, supermarkets, and even in school vending machines. The consumption of caffeinnated beverages has increased dramatically. In 2012 alone, Red Bull reported total sales of over $3 billion and Monster reported sales of $2.6 billion. Dr. Nordt said, “There are only a few main ingredients in an energy drink: water, sugar, B-vitamins, and caffeine.” The labels list a variety of ingredients such as taurine, creatine, antioxidants, and ginseng. However, the amounts are far below what is needed for therapeutic benefit. In low doses, caffeine has been shown to improve endurance times and provide a “jolt,” or a boost of energy. Unfortunately, it also tends to result in a “crash.” A constant intake of caffeine burdens the body’s adrenal system, resulting in this fatigue. Dr. Nordt published a study on energy drink usage in emergency department patients. The most common side effect was shakiness and jitteriness, reported in 20% of respondents. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and encourages the release of hormones like adrenaline, elevating heart rate and simulating “flight-or-fight” responses. USC sophomore Zachary Chen

Pages 11 and 12 complete our paper with a glance into the overlap between medicine and pop culture. Read on for the impact of medical TV shows on student perception, and insightful books for any student pursuing a career in health. Familiar pages include the Allied Health column on page 9 on emergency healthcare with insights on the daily lives of ER doctors and EMTs; the Campus News section on page 10 with new information on the student health center and organizations on campus. Trojan Health Connection is excited to announce that we will continue our expansion with more frequent publications in the coming semesters. We appreciate all your continued support, and encourage you to explore our latest issue. Sincerely, Jessica and Rebecca said, “With energy drinks, you can get overly jittery. It’s a different type of exhaustion—you’re mentally exhausted but at the same time, you’re physically alert.” Also, caffeine can be both physically and psychologically addictive. Burgess said, “I think I might have developed a slight dependence on energy drinks. Often, I feel like I have to have one if I want to do a good job.” Other adverse effects include heart palpitations, racing or abnormal heartbeats, cramping, nausea and vomiting, and headaches. Caffeine is the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug, and there is virtually no social stigma. Energy drinks are marketed as dietary supplements, and as a result, the FDA is unable to approve or review them. Burgess said, “I think society doesn’t actually treat it like a drug at all...It’s such a big part of people’s everyday lives, and there aren’t really any age restrictions on it, so no one considers it to be a bad thing.” Clinical studies do suggest that energy drinks are safe in moderation, but Dr. Nordt said, “The data is not known yet whether caffeine will have any long-term effects.” “My advice would be to drink no more than two over a short period,. Sleep-deprivation combined with a high dose of caffeine puts you at a higher risk for seizures.” 

Superpowered Superfoods By Audrey Chai Associate Editor

The “Superfoods” trend has taken over the world of health eating. With all the hype, we’ve decided to make your life easier and researched the best and most overlooked superfoods. Superfoods That Fight Fat Garbanzo Beans: Also known as chickpeas, garbanzo beans are filled with starch and fiber. They are also a protein powerhouse, providing an amount comparable to meat or dairy without the saturated fat. With a nutlike taste and buttery texture, you can add these beans to anything: toss them in a salad, eat them baked, or as a delicious hummus dip. Chilis: If spicy is your thing, then we have good news for you: besides being low in fat, calories, and cholesterol, spicy chili peppers contain capsaicin, the natural heat component of chilis plays many important roles in the body. Capsaicin may act as natural anti-inflammatory agent, improve circulation, and even help burn 50100 calories after a meal.

Beauty-Boosting Superfoods Oysters: Oysters are an excellent source of zinc, which plays a big role in skin cell renewal and repair. It’s also crucial in keeping nails, hair, and eyes healthy. Low in fat and high in protein, these “pearls of the sea” are the perfect choice. As a bonus, oysters are also rich in potassium, magnesium, and healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood pressure. Kiwi: These furry fruits pack a full day’s vitamin C, but also tons of skinenhancing nutrients. They increase collagen production and help brighten skin. Their high quantity of vitamin E and antioxidants also helps to smooth skin and prevent blemishes. Eat kiwis as soon as you slice them, as their high moisture content allows their nutrients to evaporate quickly. Immune Boosting Foods Mushrooms: Luckily for us, they are a treasure chest of immune boosting nutrients, filled with the mineral selenium, essential B vitamins, and various antioxidants.

Garlic: Hailed as an “elixir” of health, garlic has been used for centuries. Three powerful compounds: allicin, ajoene, and thiosulfinates that give garlic all its anti-fungal and nutritive powers. Add some to a pasta sauce or spread crushed garlic onto baguette slices. The Athlete’s Superfoods Lean Beef: Lean beef is the perfect addition to an exercise diet. Along with being a great source of protein, beef is also high in iron. An iron insufficiency leads to less energy. Don’t forget to add beans, peas, leafy vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals. Visit us online at for additional foods and creative new recipes. 


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May 1, 2013

USC Professor’s Groundbreaking Research Implemented at Kaiser Permanente By JANIE CHEN Editor Dr. Susan Enguidanos of the gerontology department has taken multidisciplinary research to a new level. Though Dr. Enguidanos primarily does research in palliative care, she has intertwined cognitive psychology with social work. Her innovative work has influenced Kaiser Permanente facilities around the nation to implement her model for palliative care. Palliative care is an area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. It is appropriate for patients at all stages of disease and traditionally undertakes pain and symptom management. Dr. Enguidanos’ new twist takes palliative care deeper and extends it beyond pain management. Instead, she has pioneered the idea of holistic care for pain, including care for psychological and spiritual needs along with physical ones.

This care empowers the elderly by guiding them through their problems with the use of step-wise problem-solving. The elderly are taught to use small stages to accomplish their goals; sometimes these stepby-step exercises are reward-based. Though this new model may not seem modern or revolutionary at first, it has changed the perspective of palliative care. The traditional model aimed to fix patient issues by instructing patients without first studying the patient’s desires or goals. The new guide helps them regain control over their problems without becoming dependent on their care managers. In one case, an elderly man who claimed to feel overwhelmed had not bathed for days. Following Dr. Enguidanos’ model, the care manager helped the man figure out how to rejoin the local senior center and reestablish a relationship with his estranged daughter by sitting down with the man and talking through his problems. It was found that the man felt isolated socially. By

a more holistic type of care. discovering this, the new method gave the “Our healthcare system has communiman a chance to restart his life. cation issues, different systems Kaiser Permanente’s don’t communicate and nothmulti-site testing of Dr. ing is holistic which is why our Enguidanos’ new model of healthcare system is extremely end-of-life care for chronicostly and has earned the repucally and terminally ill patation of being a silos,” said Dr. tients dramatically alters Enguidanos. “The only place palliative care. The quality there is any care like this is priof hospice care traditionally mary care, but specialists don’t offered only after aggressive communicate with primary medical treatment is now care physicians. Palliative care available in the patient’s can cut across this silos.” home and provides extra Dr. Enguidanos’ work has services like physical and music therapy to enhance Dr. Susan Enguidanos truly changed healthcare for the elderly and those who are quality of life. Assistant Professor of in need of end-of-life care. She In addition, this option Gerontology currently teaches Psychologiis offered to patients with a cal and Social Aspects of Death and Dying, prognosis of under a year, instead of the six End-of-Life Care and Continuum of Care: months that hospice care requires. Patients Systems Perspective and has a joint apwho choose this option do not have to abanpointment with the USC School of Social don aggressive treatment; instead, they can Work.  receive the benefits of both. This gives them

Specialists don’t communicate with the primary care physicians. Palliative care can cut across this silos.

USC Professor Makes Strides in Diabetes and Obesity Research By LU TIAN Writer Dr. Alan Watts, USC professor of biological sciences, neuroscience, physiology and biophysics, leads a research team that focuses on the interactions between the brain and glucose metabolism. “I sort of came in a full circle,” said Watts. His current research investigates how the brain responds to various changes in glucose levels and how the brain itself can alter glucose levels by activating epinephrine secretion or controlling pancreatic secretion. He switched from his original research on hypovolemia to hypoglycemia, and that brought him back to thinking about how the brain controls glucose and how it is involved in various aspects of diabetes and other complications. “A lot of our work revolves around CRH neurons,” said Watts. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is a peptide hormone and neurotransmitter made by the hypothalamus that stimulates the release of corticotropin by the anterior pituitary gland. These secretions stimulate the adrenal cortex to release glucocorticoids, steroid hormones that are involve in the regulation of glucose metabolism. Watts’s research investigates how CRH alters gene expression and how

neurotransmitters interact with them to control glucose level. Watts identified a biochemical signal that helps regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. Watts and his team discovered that nitogenactivated protein kinases are key enzymes that link changes in blood glucose levels to certain neurons in the hypothalamus and Courtesy of the release of glucoseDr. Alan Watts, USC Faculty controlling hormones. This novel discovery by Watts and his team provides a better understanding of how the body balances between hyperglycemia, too much glucose in the blood, and hypoglycemia, too little glucose in the blood. Most of Watts’s work is not intended to produce immediate commercial benefit, but rather to increase the general understanding of fundamental physiological mechanisms. “We don’t do work that’s got a direct clinical application, so we’re not developing drugs to try to reduce blood glucose for example. We are trying

Spotlight: One In 17,414 Officially titled Assembly Bill 32, the plan outlines the state’s wish to Editor reach greenhouse gas reduction goals Out of all the outstanding pre-health highlighted by AB 32. AB 32 is currently students on campus, junior Otana under attack by the oil industry and Jakpor stands out with her work in the Jakpor is working with the ALA to keep interdisciplinary fields of Global Health support for AB 32 from both the public and Environmental and California legislators. Science. In addition to her Since coming to research, Jakpor has college, Jakpor has won numerous accolades developed a passion including the President’s for connecting current Environmental Youth environmental issues Award and was most to health and wellness recently named as one of issues by interning and Glamour magazine’s Top 10 researching with major College Women of 2013. institutions both in the Jakpor hopes to pursue a states and abroad. career in pediatrics in the She studied abroad future. She would also like in Oxford through to go on regular medical Problems Without mission trips and make Passports in Summer service a regular part of 2011, where she learned her life. about how cookstoves Jakpor also prioritizes in third world countries Courtesy of Astrid Stawiarz outreach. “Doctors are contribute to indoor air Junior Otana Jakpor needed to testify and speak pollution. out about public health,” said Jakpor. During the spring break of her She began by doing research on tobacco sophomore year, Jakpor shadowed a advertising and mass media influences, plastic surgeon at Children’s Hospital Los which was the source of her interest in Angeles. She was able to learn about ear Health Communications. construction for children diagnosed with She is now trying to make health microtia, a congenital deformity in which issues “more accessible to low literate the external ear is underdeveloped. communities” by “looking at medical Just last semester, Jakpor conducted literacy and how to communicate health research at Cedars-Sinai where she issues,” said Jakpor. was able to look at air pollution, Her advice to students is to “cross the especially particulate matter in the air, sidewalk, and get out into the community. and its connection with brain cancer. Do volunteering work and do practical Currently, she has an internship with internships. The major challenge is to the American Lung Association (ALA). work with populations that are needy. She is researching public policy tactics Once you experience firsthand how and using educational strategies to help tenacious their lives are, you become very the ALA protect the California Global dedicated to the field of public health. It’s Warming Solutions Act. very humbling.” 


to understand how these brain systems work under normal circumstances and also pathological circumstances,” said Watts, “By working out the mechanisms, you now have a chance to figure out what is there when things go wrong.” Watts has been a USC faculty member for more than 20 years. He was the director of NIBS Neuroscience Program, head of Neurobiology section, chair of USC Neuroscience Executive Committee, and director of Neuroscience Research Institute. He is currently teaching several BISC and NEUR classes. Besides exploring how the brain works, Watts enjoys mentoring students on his research team. “I like interacting with students, bringing them into the lab, and seeing them develop within a project,” said Watts. Watts does not require students seeking to join his team to have prior experience. However, he prefers students who are genuinely interested in the topics he is researching about and can stay long term, preferably around two years. Watts said, “I always find two qualities that I think are important in science, one is imagination...The second is initiative...You need to be able to turn thoughts into actions. The most important advice is to be...really interested. Enjoy it and don’t be afraid to take chances.” 

Pre-Med Activities

May 1, 2013

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New Environmental Studies Major for Pre-Health Students By EINAV NACHMAN Writer

With a fresh start to the semester comes a brand new major oriented towards pre-health students: Environmental Science and Health. The new major seeks to prepare students for the 2015 MCAT while presenting them the opportunity to take classes in countries around the world. As an Environmental Science and Health major, students can fulfill their pre-health

requirements while learning about the human health effects largely caused by environmental pollutants. Professor Jim Haw is a professor of Chemistry at USC and the director of the Environmental Studies program on campus. Frustrated by the lack of prehealth emphasis in the environmental sciences major, he launched the Environmental Science and Health major this spring. Haw said the Environmental Studies major is “intended more

Work - Life Balance important thing for me to do is to keep my work life and my family Writer life separate. That way, I can Dr. Sarkis Kaakijian, a spend more time with my family pediatrician and internist instead of discussing work when practicing in Glendale, CA, truly I’m at home.” loves his occupation. He also encourages his kids to For Kaakijian, balance is the come with him to his biweekly key to success. This phrase rounds, where they have the exemplifies the meaning of opportunity to see their father his life both in and out of the in action. hospital. He said, “I tell them what each Kaakijian said that a typical of the different instruments are day for him is often exciting and and exactly what they do.” eventful. He believes that his In addition to the patients practice “needs to operate like a that he sees everyday at his normal business would.” practice and at the hospital, He opens his office each day Kaakijian also enjoys taking at 9 AM, and works until 1 PM, part in some personal activities seeing mostly kids and on some with his family. occasions, adults. He then takes He said, “One of my favorite a break from pastime 1 PM to 2 PM, activities is where he goes to go to the to the doctor’s movies with lounge at my kids. I the Glendale feel closer Memorial to my kids Hospital to every time eat lunch with I go to see a colleagues. new movie After his with them.” one-hour Also, he break, he likes to take resumes work them to until 6 PM. educational He then goes places, such to the gym Courtesy Marie Kaakijian as Olvera shortly before Dr. Sarkis Kaakijian Street and coming home the La Brea to his family at around 7:30 PM Tar Pits Museum. and helping his children with Kaakijian said, “If I know their homework. that my kids have learned at least one thing from the visit, Kaakijian mentions that he then I know that it has been does not let his dedication to his worthwhile.” job and his love for what he does A doctor’s balance between control his life. life at home and work life is the He said, “I have a lot of time key to happiness, according to dedicated to my family outside Kaakijian.  of my work schedule. The most


for people who are on the social science side of being interdisciplinary,” while the Environmental Science and Health major is “intended for students on the natural science side of being interdisciplinary.” Additionally, he said,“The two majors share a common set of core courses. If somebody is doing the BS in Environmental Science and Health, they will do all the standard pre-med prerequisites for biology, organic chemistry, physics, and calculus required for medical school.”

On top of guiding students through the pre-med classes while exposing them to environmental science classes, the 72unit major has a statistically based decision making and human behavior emphasis to better prepare students for the revised 2015 MCAT. According to Haw, this is “a major designed for pre-meds.” “The environmental studies courses are intended to give the pre-health student a community and a major experience,” said Haw.

Allowing freshman students the opportunity to take general chemistry and biology the first year, this major is built so that the first environmental health class is not taken until sophomore year. This gives current students the opportunity to switch majors easily without worrying about whether they will graduate on time. All that is needed to make the switch is a change of major form found in the Environmental Sciences office (SOS B15) or any academic major’s office. 

A Day in the Life of Pre-Med Athletes By ANNETT EOM and MORGAN ROGERS Writer and Editor Think being pre-med is difficult enough? THC had the chance to sit down with three pre-med athletes to ask them a bit about how they manage to stay on top of things.

Zade Shakir, Soccer

Editor Morgan Rogers

Jeff Miller, Football

Courtesy USC Cycling

Tony Yang, Cycling

Q: Why are you interested in becoming a doctor? A: I plan on being a psychiatrist because I am a people’s person and I like to learn what and why people do what they do. Q: How do you manage your time? A: Admittedly I’m horrible at managing my time. I usually cram for my pre-medical class tests the last two days before the exam. Cycling is incredibly time intensive. It takes about 20 minutes to prepare tire pressure, put on uniform, and mix drinks every ride. Then the actual ride can take around three to seven hours, depending on distance. And finally you tend to pass out for at least two hours because of weariness after.

Q: How is being premed different for an athlete? A: Obviously being premed is a huge commitment to the future just as being an athlete is. While most people in premed do not have other obligations that are outside of focusing on pre-med, I have a huge obligation to football. Being an athlete and managing school is difficult enough, but balancing being a biomedical engineer and football with pre-med is a even bigger task. With being pre-med and an athlete, you really have to find a balance between school and work while trying to do your best at both. Q: In terms of timing, how are you able to fit in classes (especially labs) and practice? A: My schedule sucks. We have blocked off times for football in which we aren’t supposed to schedule classes due to practice. However with the requirements for class and labs, they overlap with practice. This semester, I have two class conflicts with practice.

Q: Why are you interested in becoming a doctor? A: I really want to be an orthopedic surgeon and work with athletes. I have had my fair share of injuries over the years and have been fortunate enough to work with some really great sports doctors. I was inspired by my dad to be a doctor. He’s the most intelligent person I know. Seeing the way he changes peoples’ lives is remarkable, and something I aspire to do one day. Q: How do you manage your time? A: There are definitely some intense weeks, but everything is manageable. I just don’t put things off until the last minute. I try to capitalize on every free minute I have – whether it be studying, playing soccer, lifting weights, eating, or sleeping. I am proud of how well I have been doing in the classroom, but just like on the field, I am always looking for ways to improve myself, and I never settle for being average. For the full interviews, check out our website at 

Demystifying the Medical MMI: Multiple Mini Interviews By NATASHA SOSA Section Editor

Today’s the day. All those years of cramming for chemistry and prepping for physics have led to this moment: your chance to prove yourself to your dream medical school. The two minutes seem like hours as you review the prompt on the door, which asks you to discuss the ethical implications of embryonic stem cell research. Eventually, the door opens, and you step into the room. Time’s up – your first mini interview has begun. Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs), such as the one described, are part of a relatively new type of interview technique. While most medical schools conduct typical interviews, some medical schools here in the US, in addition to many Canadian medical schools, have adopted this new format. American medical schools that use the MMI format include Stanford, UC Davis, UCLA, University of Cincinati,

Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Oregon Health Science University, and more. In contrast to the traditional oneon-one interview, the MMI format has interviewees travel to multiple stations, where they will encounter a prompt they will discuss for several minutes. Students are given a few minutes to read over the prompt, which can deal with anything from ethical dilemmas to roleplaying scenarios that physicians may encounter. They will then either discuss the topic with the interviewer or interact with actors while the interviewer grades them on their performance. As these are meant to be “mini” interviews, candidates are given a set length of time in which to complete the task, after which they must move on. Each station has a different topic and rater, so if one station doesn’t go well, the candidate gets a fresh start on the next. The movement away from the traditional interview is spurred in part by its inability to accurately predict which candidates will become good doctors.

According to a report released by McGill University in Canada, over half of the variation in the ratings of traditional interviews was due to interviewer differences. The MMI format tries to reduce the effect of interviewer bias by using a greater number of interviewers in shorter interviews. Furthermore, the MMI format seeks to test personal factors that are believed to make up good physicians. At the Medical School Admissions Panel last semester, a representative from Stanford Medical School explained that they seek to identify qualities such as verbal skills and empathy, both of which are important for patient interactions. The evidence seems to support the MMI format. According to The New York Times, scores on MMIs have been highly correlated with scores on medical licensing exams in Canada. As a result, applicants may have to undergo one or more interviews in this new format. While the actual questions used in MMIs are confidential, that

doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to prepare for the interviews themselves. The first thing to consider is that, despite the change in format, this is still an interview for medical school. Candidates will still need to present themselves in the proper manner – dress nicely, avoid swearing, turn off the phone, and treat everyone with respect. One can also prepare for the types of scenarios presented in an MMI by doing mock-interviews with a counselor or with friends and family. Practicing the ability to think critically about topics and speak clearly and efficiently on the subject will improve one’s chances of succeeding in the actual interview. Lastly, an admissions officer from Stanford recommends that students focus on analyzing the topic presented to them, rather than trying to find the “right” answer. Admissions officers just want to see the kind of critical thinking that goes into your opinion. So on the day of the interview, don’t stress. Just take a deep breath, stay calm, and focus on your prompt. 

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Pre-Med Activities

Army Doctors Graduate School Without Debt — from HPSP, page 1

Rico. HPSP’s compensation structure is generous, beginning with a $20,000 signing bonus. Program members enjoy a $2000 or greater monthly stipend, officer’s pay during school breaks, and are promoted to the rank of Captain upon graduation. Acceptance requires U.S. citizenship, an underg raduate degree, an admission to a graduate program, and the ability to qualify as a commissioned officer. The physically inept need not apply. Sounds too good to be true, no? HPSP is not without its drawbacks. It requires a year of active duty service for each year in school the program pays for. Spend four years in medical school on the military’s dime, and they own you for the next four. HPSP covers residency and fellowship training as well, but it comes with an additional service requirement, and your residency generally must

occur at a military hospital. Your service is not free, of course; you receive full officers’ pay, complete with pay increases as you advance in rank. Nonetheless, your life and your future are no longer truly your own. During breaks, instead of visiting family you will participate in grueling t r a i n i n g regimens to prepare for active duty. The greatest advantage of HPSP, aside from its financial considerations, is the sense of stability it ensures. Participants never have to worry about their finances, and can rest assured that, provided they hold up their end of the deal, they will complete school and embark on the medical career of their dreams. HPSP is hardly free money, however. After completing medical school a military physician makes about $90,000 per year, and that figure increases to $120,000 per year after completing residency and becoming board certified. Say you opt for four years

The greatest advantage of HPSP, aside from its financial considerations, is the sense of stability it ensures.

By joining the Health Professions Scholarship Program, medical students receive free tuition in exchange for required years of active duty service. of medical school and no residency, then spend the required four years as a military doctor, making $360,000 total before taxes. Alternately, you could take on loans and attend medical school without military assistance, graduate, and become a general practitioner making roughly $150,000 per year. Four years later you would have made $600,000, for a difference of $240,000. Assuming the value of your education is roughly

$200,000, you are left with a difference of $40,000, which drops below zero when you factor in the signing bonus and monthly stipend. Thus, if you want to be a general practitioner, HPSP is a good deal. But if you want to be a specialist, the numbers swing in the opposite direction. A heart specialist would start at around $250,000 per year, so the difference after four years would be $640,000. Factor in the additional

years of required service due to the residency and specialized schooling you would need, and the gap grows even wider. Should you pursue HPSP? The answer depends on what kind of doctor you aspire to be, and whether you are comfortable with giving up a significant amount of freedom. If you want to be a specialist, you may be financially better off taking on loans. Otherwise, you might consider HPSP. n

USC’s Post-Baccalaureates Foreign Medical Schools May By NATALIE FRIEDRICKS Writer

Writer Natalie Friedricks

USC Post-bacc student Daniel Shepherd enjoys his science classes. “Post-baccs” are nontraditional medical school applicants who face no trouble standing out. These “post-baccs” are students who have completed undergraduate degrees (usually in non-science majors) and have returned to fulfill the pre-med requirements. USC’s program is two years long and requires 2 science classes per semester. This is followed by a glide year in which post-baccs are supposed to finish their medical school applications and engage in related activities. Two USC post-bacc students, Daniel Wilson and Wendell Shepherd, said that before they came to USC neither one had any clue they would end up in medicine. Shepherd attended UCSB as an English major, and Wilson studied Spanish and History at Santa Clara University. “I was a math tutor after I graduated, I did absolutely nothing with my English degree,” said Shepherd. “But I had a couple surgeries from sports related injuries and I got interested in the medical field. So I started volunteering at hospitals and just decided to just jump right in.” Wilson, however, followed a different path. “I actually had started doing

graduate work for a masters in medieval history,” said Wilson. “Then the more I thought about it, the more I started to question whether that [becoming a college professor] was really what I wanted to do. I realized that there were aspects of it I liked, but that if I actually thought about doing work in medicine it just seemed to fit what I wanted to do with my life…it was just a better fit for me.” Wilson said that volunteering greatly influenced his decision making. He shadowed and worked as a Spanish translator at a free clinic in El Monte. “Honestly getting that exposure has really solidified my desire [to become a doctor], and I’m now thinking family medicine most likely,” said Wendell. “It really helped me to sit back and go ‘here are the positives and the negatives from someone who has been doing this for 1015 years. Is this really what I want to do?’ and the answer is yes.” With respect to the influence of their non-science undergraduate coursework, Shepherd said, “I just look at all of this [science coursework] a little differently. For four years I was trained to think critically, almost like I’m analyzing essays all the time.” He added, “It has really helped a lot for the MCAT. The way I look at it is like a reading comprehension test. You don’t really need to apply too much science to it as it’s mostly looking at new information and seeing what you can glean from it. I think reading comprehension is the biggest strength for that.” About USC’s post-bacc program in particular, both said that they really appreciate the structure the program gives to their studies, and the support base the other students provide. In addition, “I really like all the opportunities for research and everything that comes with a major research institution, including access to the medical school campus and all the stuff happening there,” said Shepherd. However, a major downside of USC seemed to be the cost. But as Wilson said, “This is to be expected at any good university.” n

Offer Unexpected Advantages University of New York at Buffalo. Ailawadhi sees his foreign Writer education background as an When considering where to attend advantage, especially in his ability medical school, it is important to conduct physical examinations to consider all possibilities, even and identify rarely seen disorders. those that seem unconventional. He said of his training in One such possibility that many preIndia, “It’s very hands-on…the meds don’t consider is attending training is very good because it’s medical school abroad. always focused so much on the This prospect can quickly core medicine…and you are more become accompanied with thoughts comfortable doing the physical concerning cultural differences, examinations.” quality of In India, education, future due to a lower residency program availability of limitations, medical resources, and contrasting doctors must rely medical practices predominantly between countries, on physical among others. exams, meaning Foreign medical that training schools also give for this method different degrees, of diagnosis is not necessarily an rigorous. MD. For example, C o n s e q ue nt ly, UK schools a U.S. physician grant Bachelors who attended of Medicine or medical school in Surgery. India has a strong H o w e v e r , University College of Medical Sciences balance between while these in New Delhi. his own ability to concerns are diagnose patients understandable, medical schools and an advanced technology-based abroad may offer some hidden approach that allows for validation. advantages. Medical school abroad may afford There is a wide variety of schools a wider variety of diseases: a study to attend abroad, from India to the in Academic Medicine showed that Caribbean. More than 25 percent almost one in five residents who of physicians within the U.S. today completed a clinical rotation in attended some form of foreign Peru or Guatemala encountered a medical school, 20 percent of disease they had never seen before. whom are American-born citizens. By getting out of their comfort Dr. Sikander Ailawadhi, of zone and immersing themselves USC Internal Medicine, Division in a new country, not only can of Hematology, graduated from students broaden their knowledge, the University College of Medical but they also become more open Sciences in New Delhi, India. Soon to different ideas, techniques, thereafter he moved to the United and beliefs—something that every States, successfully completing his person should experience at least first-choice residency at the State once in their lifetime. n


Page 6

New Pre-Health

May 1, 2013

‘Directed Biomedical Res By Aisha Lodin Writer


MEDS 490 Directed Biomedical Research is the ideal course for any student seeking research experience without any previous research experience required. Erin Yamauchi, program specialist for the minor in health care studies, states that medical schools and many other professional degree programs are now requiring that students participate in some type of research during their academic tenure, and we want students to be excited about the unparalleled research opportunities USC has to offer. MEDS-490 provides opportunities for students to engage one-on-one with expert faculty mentors in basic science laboratory and clinical research. Currently there are two different tracks prospec-

A pair of paramedics rush a patient to surgery at LAC+USC Medical Center, one of the classroom sites for MEDS classes.

tive students can re clude the USC Heal track and the Child Angeles track. Michelle Engel, a tal student, describe ing for the MEDS 4 was unsure about h in a research projec MEDS 490 course a to making the conn researchers. Currently Michell post-doctoral studen School of Dentistry’s facial Molecular Biol She works in Dr. C work focuses on lab vessels, and bone t Through her researc use confocal scannin bel the jaw structure

‘Drugs and the Brain’ By Gurleen Chadha

New cadaver-based course for undergrads

Section Editor

Drugs, both legal and illegal, are a huge part of healthcare today. For the pre-health student who is both fascinated by the ways in which these compounds impact the brain and looking to get insight into how physicians, government agencies, and scientists interact to bring these drugs to the public, MEDS 350: Drugs and the Brain is the course to take. The class is taught by Sean Nordt, M.D., Pharm. D., who currently serves as the Director of Toxicology in the Department of Emergency Medicine at

By Kelsi Chesney Writer

While the generic premed schedule full of prerequisites such as GenChem, OChem, Bio and Physics supplies all the information necessary to be a doctor, it is easy to get confused by the correlation between memorizing numberless aromatic substitutions and one’s future as a practicing physician. But there are necessary gems like MEDS 320 that help us premeds realize why insane studying for required classes is worth all the work. MEDS 320: Clinical Perspectives on Human Anatomy elaborates on the knowledge a premed gains from previous classes and applies it to real clinical cases and cadaveric demonstrations. It is currently the only cadaver-based anatomy course available to undergraduates at USC. Dr. Habib, the professor of the course, describes MEDS 320 as a “one semester immersion preview of medical education.” The unique opportunity that this class gives to apply a premed’s knowledge in real and recognizable ways under the guidance of Dr. Habib is an advantage that provides students with the best preparation for their first years in medical school. Imad Awan, one student of the nine enrolled in the 2012 fall semester, appreciated that the primary focus of MEDS 320 was on learning through hands-on demonstrations. He elaborated on the overall effect of this class on his motivation to be a doctor; “I’ve always wanted to be a surgeon, and feeling a human heart in my hand was a feeling like no other. Since then, I’ve pursued cardiothoracic surgeons at Keck to research with and maybe even experience a surgery with them.” MEDS 320 offers an experience of practicing skills along with learning the medically relevant terminology in order to provide a glimpse of a real medical school anatomy course. This practical theme seems to be present in all MEDS classes, with variations on the type of concrete knowledge taught in accordance with the skills focused on. One can’t help but feel that this type of authentic experience is an absolute advantage for premeds at USC to have for when they eventually become medical students.

the Keck School of Medicine. As a t pharmacist, and a physician, No ground gives him the unique vant addressing all aspects of drug use development in the laboratory to that they have on the human brai The first half of the lecture serie sic neuroanatomy, psychiatric ill drug discovery. A major goal is for students to the process of FDA approval, fro and development in the laboratory out drug studies. “Most people don’t know how dr market or how long it takes. It tak 18 years and about a billion dolla why drugs are so expensive—the money that needs to be recouped,” Students also learn about drug

Class geared to preparing pre

By Ifrah Hassa Editor

Students participate in a patient role-playing activity during class. MEDS 220 is a two-unit course and will be offered Fall 2013.

MEDS 220 is an introducto titled, “Preparation for the Cl ence,” for the new health care s It is geared toward undergra ing careers in the health scien to prepare students for situatio be present in clinical environm graduates interested in a pos reer in the health sciences will pate in clinical environments. Several students from v grounds are currently enr course, each student comes t to learn about a topic that int her. Hootan Omidvar, a junio Biological Sciences said, “I rea learn about how our healthc changing and how it compares the world.” The course incorporates dis

Assistant Dean for Pre-Health Undergraduat

Our goal is to provide students with unprecedented access and exposure to leaders in the healthcare sciences and practice.” -Dr. Stuart Swadron

By Aisha Lodin Writer

For Dr. Stuart Swadron, Assistant Dean for Pre-Health Undergraduate Studies, no two days of work are ever the same. Dr. Swadron serves not only as the program director for the LAC+USC emergency medicine residency program, but is also an assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine, is a professor for MEDS 220: preparation for the clinical experience and MEDS 490: directed research in biomedical research, advises medical students, works in various departments in the health science campus including emergency clinics at LA County Hospital and

the medical dean’s office. He enjoys the beauty of an academic medical career that offers him a wide variety and makes his career stimulating. Before he joined the Trojan family, Dr. Swadron completed his undergraduate education at the University of Western Ontario and went to medical school at University of Toronto. Dr. Swadron was always interested in practicing general medicine but realized after an emergency department rotation that the faced paced and gratifying nature of emergency medicine really appealed to him. When asked to describe his academic medical profession, Dr. Swadron describes it as “a real privilege to spend time so early

in the professional develop dergraduate students’ care MEDS courses. Dr. Swadr teaching doctors in practice and enjoys seeing the great and everyone one of his stu As the newly appointed for pre-health undergradu the Keck School of Medicin serves as a professor and a for many of the health care MEDS courses. The healt minor serves to establish a ship between faculty, hea sionals, residents, and students. The program aim different possibilities throu

h Minor at a Glance

May 1, 2013

sophomore pre-denes that before enroll490 HSC course she how to get involved ct and describes the as a helpful gateway nections with faculty

le is working with nts at the Ostrow s Center for Craniology. Chai’s lab where her beling the jaw, blood tissues of a mouse. ch she has learned to ng technologies to laes and plans on con-

tinuing with her research after the class is over this spring. Natasha Sanjar, a junior studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, is taking her MEDS 490 through the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles track and describes the course as an amazing experience because her research in the emergency department is focused in the emergency department and she has been given the opportunity to experience transport medicine and has shadowed on the helicopter pad. Natasha enjoys being able to interact with the doctors, learn from their experiences, and better yet have them give you advice on what you need to do to get to where they are. The curriculum of the of the MEDS 490 course focuses on giving students a unique and individualized research experience tailored to fit their interests.

The course curriculum supports this by providing a series of didactic lectures on hypothesis development, biomedical statistics, and training in research methodology. “We want students to be able to take advantage of the renowned faculty scientists and state-of-the-art facilities USC has to offer,” said Yamauchi. The course can be taken for 2 or 4 units per semester. Those wishing to continue in their research have the option of taking an additional semester of 490 (up to 8 units max.). Research lab and clinical shift schedules are created to accommodate students’ other courses and can even be done during the evenings or on the weekends. If you are interested in MEDS 490 or the health care studies minor feel free to contact Erin Yamauchi at eyamauch@usc. edu.

’ offers insight into pharmacology

toxicologist, ordt’s backtage point of e, from their o the impact in. es covers balnesses, and

understand om research y to carrying

rugs come to kes about 17, ars, which is ere’s a lot of ” said Nordt. abuse, par-

ticularly those drugs that can impact undergraduate life. In addition to “street drugs” such as methamphetamine and cocaine, students also cover alcohol, caffeine, and prescription amphetamine-like medications, e.g. Adderall®. When asked how he approaches these topics, Nordt said “I talk to [students] really at a gut level, if you will, about some of this stuff. Particularly date-rape drugs, going out to parties, being at raves…I see people their age every day in the emergency department and I try to bring that home.” These types of personal experiences are one of the most unique components of MEDS 350. Nordt’s references to patient interactions allow the class to gain a deeper understanding of dealing with drug abuse as a physician, bringing it to a level beyond the textbook.

He said, “I try to expose them to what it’s really like to see a psychotic patient in the emergency department, or somebody who’s suicidal, or somebody who’s acutely intoxicated on cocaine or something like that; there’s the reality and then there’s what you read in a book.” When asked what he hoped students would take from the class, Nordt said that in addition to knowledge of the drug pathways in the brain and the basics of drug development, he hoped they would come away with a sense of empathy. “I try to convey the empathy that you need to have as a successful physician. Without empathy, you are never going to be a successful physician, no matter what your paycheck says.” *MEDS 350 will be offered in Spring 2014.

e-health students for careers as clinicians


ory course, enlinical Experistudies minor. aduates pursunces. It seeks ons that might ments. Understgraduate cal likely partici-

various backrolled in the to class eager terests him or or majoring in ally wanted to care system is s to the rest of

scussions and

touches upon several healthcare-related topics, all taught to the students by medical professionals—Dr. Swadron serves as the main instructor—who enhance the learning experience of the students and contribute to the diversity of the course. Sabrina Aziz, a senior majoring in Health Promotion Disease Prevention, said “It is different from any other course I have ever taken and all of the teachers and aides in this class are so ready and willing to help the students.” The goal of the course is to present undergrads with exposure to healthcare systems, knowledge of medical ethics, cultural competency and interpersonal mannerisms while still developing the necessary communication and advanced writing skills to excel in the workplace while still exhibiting awareness of the implemented policies, measures and even health insurance selection. “You get personal interactions with physicians and residents,” Joy Phan, a junior majoring in Music and Biological Sciences, said.

“We learn about healthcare systems in other countries, personality in medicine, cultural competency, policies and regulations and have open discussion and ethical debates.” MEDS 220 provides a unique experience by exposing undergraduates to a series of topics that are the center of current healthbased debates. “We really just address anything and everything that can help us prepare to take a position in the health system” said Sabrina. This helps students build a foundation for the future when they will be in charge of decisions of that sort. “I love the relevancy of the subject matter,” Joy said. Overall, there is a positive response to the course from students, who suggest their peers to consider taking the course and look into the healthcare minor. “This class is extremely beneficial. We are being exposed to information as undergraduates that some medical professionals don’t even spend time learning about” said Hootan. “This class is amazing, take it.”

The Benefits

search’ allows for unique clinical experience

egister for, which inlth Science Campus dren’s Hospital Los

Page 7

“As Health Care Studies minors, undergraduates will not only have the opportunity to take courses at the Keck School, they will also have the chance to receive basic clinical experiences at Keck Medical Center at USC, Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, as well as a number of other affiliate sites.”

Course Highlights This new minor is tailored to meet the demands and interests of pre-health students, but due to a lack of awareness and enrollment, some MEDS courses offered in Spring 2013 had to be cancelled.

MEDS 460: Emergency Health Care

A 2-unit course that allows for an interactive experience with ER physicians/emergency health care providers.

MEDS 465: Wilderness and Survival Medicine

A 4-unit course led by emergency physicians about medical care under “extreme” wilderness conditions and basic survival strategies.

MEDS 440: Introduction to Surgical Principles

te Studies explains advantages of minor

pment of an uneer” through the ron also enjoys e and residents, t potential each udents exhibits. d assistant dean uate studies at ne, Dr. Swadron a guest lecturer e studies minor th care studies a close mentoralthcare profesundergraduate ms to highlight ugh health care

science and presents students with access to connect with leaders in healthcare science. The program also hopes to help students define their strengths and determine what type of health science profession best suits them and the experience they wish to achieve. Dr. Swadron advises aspiring healthcare professionals to be passionate about what your interests are, whether it be engineering, pre-health, or arts. “The ones that excel the most in the field of medicine are those who have the passion to excel, care for others, and demonstrate excellence and precision,” Swadron said. If given the opportunity to relive his undergraduate experience, Dr. Swadron

would” reincarnate himself into a USC student and take a wide variety of courses in history, gerontology, and declare the healthcare studies minor”. In his undergraduate experience, he felt like just a number within hundreds of other students and describes the feeling of being lost and overwhelmed. His answer to this is seeking personal individual mentorship and he is fortunate that here at USC, where our schools within the college are top rated, we are surrounded by the best of the best faculty who are more than anxious to spend time with students, and encourages USC students to reach out to the and hopes every student will take on the opportunities to connect on campus.

A 3-unit course led by surgeons that introduces students to the spectrum of surgical care. This class is only open to students of junior or senior standing. Photo illustrations by Jackie Dinh Photos courtesy of Dr. Stuart Swadron,, and

Study Materials

May 1, 2013

Page 8

Follow Us on Twitter! @THCatUSC

Study: Different Tests Call for Different Books Whether you’re taking the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), Dental Admission Test (DAT) or the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), each test provides enough stress on its own without the struggle to figure out the best method for how to study for it. A good place to start is with prep books that can be used to selfstudy. Though there are tons of books out there which creates another problem; choosing the correct ones. There are certain qualities to look out for like toughness of the review or the difficulty of the practice questions, and each book is a little different. Below, each list details which books are worth studying from in order to prepare for the big exam - whichever one it may be.

Going Over Guides to the GRE

Demolishing t he Dreaded DAT


By LU TIAN Writer


Whether it is to further explore a passion in the humanities or a different field in academia or to bolster one’s resume with more research experience and a better GPA, graduate schools provide an excellent alternative for aspiring pre-medical students who wish to postpone entering medical school. 1) The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test Publisher: Education Testing Service (ETS) Cost: $18.29 on Amazon Review: The best quality of this book is that it is written by the actual makers of the GRE. This guarantees that the tips and practice problems of this book are applicable to what is on the actual exam. Furthermore, the book comes with a CD containing a full-length practice test that simulates the format of the GRE perfectly, including the font style and the type of timer used on the exam. Although the book is a bit short (less than 250 pages), this can be considered an advantage to a student trying to get a quick overview of the test. 2) Cracking the GRE, 2013 Courtesy Edition Publisher: Princeton Review Cost: $14.96 on Amazon Review: The Princeton Review’s rendition of GRE prep can be considered to be one of the best out there due to all the support it offers to its customers. In addition to the top-notch tips from experts of the exam that are easy to understand, this book provides 4 practice exams (2 in the book and 2 online) with detailed explanations of answers to every question. To top it off, Princeton Review offers online tutorials on various strategies that can be used on the exam. 3) Kaplan 2013 GRE Premier Publisher: Kaplan Courtesy Cost: $22.22 on Amazon Review: Kaplan’s prep distinguishes itself from its competitors by the sheer amount of practice it offers. The book, although a tad pricey compared to the others listed, contains more than 1,300 practice problems, including 6 full-length practice exams both in the book and online. Kaplan also offers some peripheral services such as a DVD on stress management as well as tips on applying to graduate schools. n

Studying for the Dental Admission Test (DAT) can be difficult. There is a lot of material to cover: from biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry to reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, and perceptual ability. It is all crammed into a 4 hour and 30 minute test with 4 sections. Luckily, there is a plethora of preparation materials that can help you prepare and score high on the DAT. 1) DAT Destroyer Basic Publisher: Orgoman Cost: $149.95 Review: It’s a comprehensive book that breaks down the general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, and quantitative reasoning sections. Written by Dr. Jim Romano, this book includes challenging problems that are application based, with detailed solutions that help reinforce difficult concepts. The only downside is that it doesn’t cover the perceptual ability and reading comprehension sections. Ambika Parti, Activities Chair of USC’s DDS Pre-Dental Club, says, “A lot of my questions that were on my test were very similar to questions that I had seen in Destroyer. If possible, go through Destroyer twice.” 2) Kaplan Kaplan DAT Publisher: Kaplan Cost:$62.46 on Amazon Review: Kaplan DAT includes two full-length practice tests with detailed answer explanations, intensive science and quantitative reviews, a reading comprehension practice section, and test-like exercises for the perceptual ability test. Kaplan receives mixed reviews. While it is definitely cheaper than Destroyer, the book covers mostly general concepts. “It’s a great starting material,” says Parti. Studying the basics with Kaplan and then going more in-depth with other review books will yield better results than using Kaplan alone. 3) TopScore Pro Courtesy Publisher: ScholarWare Cost: $54.95 Review: TopScore Pro is a software that needs to be downloaded onto a computer. It comes with 840 practice questions and 3 full-length complete sample tests. The problems are fairly representative of the actual DAT, which is all computerized. Practicing with this program will give you a good idea of what to expect on test day. However, the CD-ROM does have an expiration date. Buyers are guaranteed 7 months of usage. After 7 months, TopScore sends out an expiration notice. If you decide to buy TopScore, you should start practicing and reviewing as soon as possible. n

Making the Most of the Mythical MCAT By FAIZAN MALIK Senior Editor Obviously choosing a particular set of study books is no easy task and may require some experimentation. However, any set should provide a strong foundation, which can always be built upon with other resources out there. And, if self-studying doesn’t work out, each of these companies offers a live course around Los Angeles and Southern California, which, along, with the prep books can be found on their respective websites. Ultimately, it won’t be the book or course you take that determines your score but the amount of work and effort you put in.

package including separate books for biology, physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry and verbal reasoning, each with review mini-practice exams. Though the coverage of math-heavy subjects like general chemistry and physics is not as thorough as other books, Examkrackers does a good job of removing extraneous details and concepts from its biology and organic chemistry books. Examkrackers also has a separate book titled 101 Passages in MCAT Verbal Reasoning for more practice, and the Audio Osmosis which is an extremely basic review of MCAT material in a lighthearted and occasionally funny of podcast format.

Examkrackers Complete MCAT Study Publisher: Examkrackers Cost: $115.35 on Amazon R e v i e w : E xamk rackers is a great option for those who did well in their science classes and just need to survey and brush up on all the material they need to know. E xamk rackers review books can be purchased as a Courtesy

chemistry and biology is overkill. Also, unlike Examkrackers questions which tend to be on the easy-to-medium side in terms of difficulty, the Berkeley Review passages can be very challenging. Though it leaves you well prepared for the MCAT, it can be demoralizing, especially when a lot of the math requires ambiguous estimation compared to the actual MCAT, which is more straightforward. The Berkeley Review also sells up to seven full length practice exams which are a decent approximation of the actual exam.

toughest material. It excels, however, at providing a variety of live, instructor-directed courses, including a summer immersion course and LiveOnline over the internet. Kaplan MCAT Review Publisher: Kaplan Cost: $82 on Amazon Review: Kaplan is much like the Princeton Review in terms of its content and style of practice questions. Kaplan offers its own set of subject review books as well as its own Kaplan MCAT 45 for students trying to perfect their score. Essentially, both the Princeton Review and Kaplan are good options for students who don’t need to relearn entire subjects but could benefit from some indepth coverage. Choosing one over the other just depends on personal preference since each has its own specific strengths and weaknesses depending on the subject and concept at hand. n

Cracking the MCAT Publisher: The Princeton Review Cost: $99.99 Review: The Berkeley Review Princeton Review (multiple books defalls somewhere beCourtesy pending on subject) tween the Berkeley Cost: $65 - $200 Review and Examkrackers in terms Review: The Berkeley Review is of depth and rigor. Besides the subextremely detailed and thorough, ject books, the Princeton Review which is good for those who need also has a book titled Cracking to relearn subjects or those shootthe MCAT, which is a comprehening for a really high score. Except sive combination of all the subjects for verbal reasoning, each subject bound together. comes as a pair of books since the The Princeton Review also pubBerkeley Review covers so much. lishes MCAT Elite 45, which is These books are ideal for physics aimed at overachievers trying to and general chemistry, but as menperfect their score and offers strattioned earlier, coverage of organic egies and practice passages for the Courtesy

May 1, 2013

Allied Health

Page 9

Student EMTs: Entrusted With Saving Lives EMTs help assess the medical needs of the sick or injured and provide emergency care.

Courtesy of USCG

Fellow classmates practicing patient assessment during the second week of the EMT training course.


Any trauma or accident that is called in to 9-1-1 is immediately addressed by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. What exactly is the difference between a paramedic and EMT? Paramedics generally have a broader scope in the services they can provide. They are able to administer necessary shots and medications and can utilize more advanced airway management techniques to support patient breathing. Basic EMTs are restricted to using non-invasive methods to stabilize the patient, like oxygen bags, basic CPR, and defibrillation. The differences between the two jobs depend on the three levels of EMT training – basic, intermediate, and paramedic. Basic EMT certification requires 110 hours of classroom learning and a 10hour ambulance ride-along shift. The ride-along is required to ensure that students attain first-hand experience in emergency care. Paramedic is the most advanced level of EMT certification, requiring 1,200 to 1,500 hours of classroom training and ride-along shifts. This often takes about two years to finish since paramedics have a wider range of skills and duties than basic EMTs. To complete certification for any level, the national EMT

ER Physicians Treat a Variety of Cases By ANJLIE GUPTA Senior Editor

Emergency medicine is a medical specialty in which physicians deal with the “stabilization, management, diagnosis, and disposition of individuals with acute illness and injury,” according to Yale School of Medicine. According to emergency physician and Medical Director of Emergency Services at California Hospital Marc Futernick, emergency physicians see every type of medical illness and injury. “I am responsible for figuring out, to a certain extent, what is causing their problem, and then treating it,” said Futernick. In comparison, most other medical specialties focus on narrower aspects of medicine. “Family practitioners are the closest to ER physicians in terms of the breadth of medical issues they will handle, but in the ER we see patients that are more acutely ill and need immediate evaluation and stabilization,” said Futernick.

Courtesy of In order to become an emergency physician, one must complete a three to four year residency program after medical school. Emergency physicians do not have a typical workweek. Instead, they work 12 to 18 clinical shifts per month. Each shift typically lasts eight to 12 hours, but in rare

cases shifts may last as long as 24 hours. Most emergency physicians only work these clinical shifts. However, a minority of emergency physicians choose to add “a few hours a month of committee work or other departmental projects,” said Futernick. Futernick believes that the most important quality to being a good emergency physician is being calm and collected during critical situations. “Another quality that is necessary is being capable of managing many patients simultaneously, which is unique to our specialty,” said Futernick. What Futernick enjoys most in his work as an emergency physician is the immediate impact he is able to make in improving people’s lives every day. “My most favorite patients to treat are those that have situations that I can really fix, such as dislocated joints or abnormal rhythms of the heart that I can convert back to normal,” said Futernick. “These situations are very gratifying.” Futernick added, “The most exhilarating patients are those that are close to death but that we are able to rapidly initiate resuscitative measures that work to stabilize the patient, and many times will lead to a return to normal, healthy life.” On the other hand, Futernick least enjoys dealing with the failures of the current healthcare system. “We see many patients who are very ill but only because the system has made it so difficult to care for their chronic illness in terms of access to care and excessive costs for the patients,” said Futernick. For students interested specifically in emergency medicine, Futernick suggests that becoming an Emergency Medical Technician/ Paramedic or volunteering in an emergency room would be most beneficial to learning more about the specialty. Ultimately, for Futernick, emergency medicine is something that he has loved since the first time he was exposed to it in medical school. Futernick said, “It was exactly what I imagined, and it still is.” 

exam must be passed. Every EMT and paramedic must obtain recertification every two years. Sheliza Kabani, a USC alumna and EMT for three years, said, “When I did ambulance ride-alongs as a part of my EMT training, I loved that thrill and excitement of being in the back of an ambulance going on a call to save a life. That adrenaline rush that I got while running to the scene, putting my gloves on, and helping the other EMTs was an amazing feeling.”

I loved that thrill and excitement of being in the back of an ambulance going on a call to save a life. Sheliza Kabani

USC Alumna and Certified Emergency Medical Technician One of her very first experiences working as a certified EMT was at a USC football tailgate. Kabani said, “It was definitely my most memorable experience. I remember when I had to keep a young woman from aspirating until help arrived, so I used my EMT training to maintain composure and provide crucial emergency care. It was the first time I was actually entrusted

with the lives of others.” Often, people seek EMT certification to gather handson health care experience before going to medical school. “The entire certification process gave me a great grasp on medical knowledge that I know will come in handy when I go to medical school in the next year or so,” said Janice Manahan, a paramedic in downtown Los Angeles who recently obtained certification. When asked why she specifically chose EMT certification to gain clinical experience, Manahan said, “I knew I was interested in medicine and had already spent two years volunteering at a hospital, but I wanted more. I wanted to actually make a difference and learn more about the human body.” Thus, the reasons behind obtaining EMT certfication can vary, whether it is to gain clinical experience, work profesionally in emergency health care, or even improve one’s skills under high-pressure, stressful situations. Kabani said, “I have learned how to manage the stress of being under pressure and delivering quick vitals to LAFD [Los Angeles Fire Department]. I recommend becoming an EMT to pre-health students because it’s a unique way to learn how to handle intense situations while simultaneously seeing medicine in action.” 

EMTs vs ER Physicians EMT Education Requirements: EMT-B: Completion of EMT course EMT-I: EMT-B + 30-350 training hours Paramedic: EMT-B certification + Associate’s degree paramedic programs Required Courses for Admission: One year biology (Paramedic) One year chemistry (Paramedic) One year anatomy (Paramedic) One year physiology (Paramedic) Application Requirements: Completion of accredited EMT course CPR certification Completion of EMT psychomotor exam EMT-B certification (Paramedic) Average School Tuition (2011): EMT: $800 - $2000 per course Paramedic: $10,000 - $15,000 per course Median Salary (2011): EMT-B: $18,000 per yr EMT-I: $34,000 per yr Paramedic: $56,000 per yr Normalized Lifetime Earnings: EMT-B: $612,000 EMT-I: $1.2 million Paramedic: $1.9 million Projected Job Growth: EMT: Number of jobs in 2010: 226,500 Percent Increase: 19.2% P: Number of jobs in 2010: 229,340 Percent Increase: 33% Lifestyle Regular hours with moderate stress.

ER PHYSICIAN Education Requirements: 4 years medical school 3-4 yrs 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 Admitted GPA: 3.67 Required Courses for Admission One year biology One year general chemistry One semester organic chemistry One semester biochemistry One year physics One year statistics/calculus Application Requirements: AMCAS application Medical College Admissions Test Average School Tuition (2006-7): Public: $16,690/year for in-state $32,900/year for out-ofstate Private: $34,749 per yr Average Debt Upon Graduation: Class of 2009: $156,456. Median Salary (2008): $339,738/yr Normalized Lifetime Earnings: $11.6 million Projected Job Growth: Number of jobs in 2008: 661,400 Projected number in 2018: 805,500 Percent Increase: 22 Lifestyle Depends on specialty; can include emergency hours and night shifts. Moderate to high stress.

Data was compiled from American Association of Medical Colleges, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Employment Index, American Physical Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, and SENIOR EDITOR LESLIE WU, EHSUPDATE.COM

Campus Activities

May 1, 2013

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The Healing Process: Transforming the Way We Think about Medicine By Alison Yu Editor To many pre-health students on campus, medicine is daunting, and the process of becoming a physician even more so. In this journey, students sometimes do not think about why they are volunteering at a hospital or engaging in research. A new project on campus, The Healing Process, allows pre-health students to take a step back to think about their experiences in medicine and share them with others who are on a similar journey. Founded this semester by two USC juniors, Abhishek Verma and Kush Gaur, The Healing Process is a biannual literary art magazine that explores health and well-being in the form of art and

New Engemann Health Center

literature, often seen as nontraditional means of expression in the medical field. They said, “This definition is super broad. But, we make it broad so that a lot of people can submit whatever they want.” “We have looked at what is offered on campus now for students and all the clubs fill their individual niche. However, our vision is to build something for pre-health students to share stories. It’s more based on stories and narrative art, whether it is

The new Engemann Health Center, which was built in order to better serve the USC community, was opened on Jan. 4. Located near the Lyon Center, the six-story, 101,000-square-foot health center includes a new pharmacy, triple the number of exam rooms, and 24-hour counseling services. During the school year, the center is open Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m-5 p.m., and Friday, 9:30 a.m.4:30 p.m. The center provides a range of services from primary care - for the common cold, checkups, and minor sprains - to specialty and urgent care. Any student who has turned in their required immunizations and screenings, insurance requirements, and AlcoholEdu has complete access to the Engemann Student Health Center. Funded by the $15 million donation from Roger and Michele Dedeaux Engemann in 2011, the new center was built to replace the old health center, which was becoming insufficient at fulfilling the needs of the growing USC student body. Appointments can be made by calling the health center during business hours at (213)740-9355 or using an online patient login system on the health center website. The facility includes a walk-in immunization clinic for injections such as the flu shot and Tdap booster, but it also provides immunizations for students who are studying abroad. “The health center was very accomodating when I needed to get my shots for India. They explained to me why I needed certain shots and what I should be aware of on my trip,” USC undergraduate Kes Rittenberg said.

Courtesy of Scott Wey In addition to medical care, the center also focuses on the importance of mental health and offers a wide range of counseling services. These include individual, group, and crisis sessions, as well as outreach programs such as stress management and substance use. A “Self-Care Resources” page can be found on their website to provide information regarding physical therapy, alcohol and drug use, depression, eating disorders, and more. Upcoming events by the center, which can also be found on the website, include CPR and AED training for adults, children, and infants. n

contribute to the wide pool of knowledge on campus. As students share their experiences with a wider audience, the entire pre-med community will benefit from the greater awareness of the opportunities in the medical world. Looking toward the future, Verma and Gaur are both very optimistic about its growth. Gaur said, “It will become a big part of our pre-med community as well as the community in other schools.” Ultimately, The Healing Process attempts to give meaning and encouragement to the undergraduate experience of pre-health students. To find out more about The Healing Process or to contribute your work to this project, check out the website at n

Reach for the STARs: Tutoring Program for CHLA Patients By Jacqueline Kruglyakova Writer

By EMILY VU Writer

telling a story about the way you see medicine or how it has changed your view,” Verma said. Gaur said, “Let’s say that you are doing a scientific article; it’s very factual based. People will be interested in it, but it won’t necessarily captivate the audience like a story or a poem.” Through contributing to the magazine, students can have the opportunity to explore what they are doing and how a certain experience has changed the way they see medicine. Verma said, “It’s also a huge opportunity for self-growth, And if you are applying to any graduate or medical schools, this can help you understand what career direction is appropriate for you, so you can pursue what you love.” It is also a way for students to

School is one of the most important activities in children’s lives. It is the place to learn lessons, make memories, and meet friends. Sadly, many children miss out on this essential experience when they are diagnosed with a disease that requires prolonged hospital stays. Hospitals around the nation have long established programs to support young

Our program helps all of the families with children get the services and school that they are entitled to. Betty Gonzales-Morkos

Clinical Coordinator for the STAR program at CHLA

patients who must miss school for days or months at a time. In recent years, some hospitals have begun offering hospital tutoring programs to provide tailored oneon-one tutoring to meet patients’ educational needs. The Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) and the City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, California offer such programs to prepare young patients for extended hospital stays. The STAR program at CHLA helps children and teens living with cancer and blood diseases succeed in school both academically and socially. “Our program helps all of the families

with children get the services and school that they are entitled to,” said Betty GonzalezMorkos, clinical coordinator for the STAR program at CHLA. The hospital offers patients the free STAR program upon admission. Five pre-doctoral students run the enrichment program, and they receive hours of training before beginning work with the patients. Over the course of a year, the STAR program assists over 200 patients and their families. A similar tutoring program Courtesy Wikimedia Commons at City of Hope coordinates Over the course of a year, the STAR program asdaily one-hour study sessions sists over 200 patients and their families. with trained academic tuSTAR work with families and schools to tors from Duarte Unified School District. ensure the most comfortable transition Tutors work with the patient’s local school back to normal life. Making sure that the to coordinate a study plan and provide children’s family and peers properly untextbooks. Teachers and families stay inderstand their reason for extended hospiformed on the child’s academic progress talization is crucial to ensuring a gentle through daily progress reports and logs. adjustment period. “We do see a lot of the kids who come One STAR patient at CHLA exemplified through our services that are either teased the benefits of this approach: “My friends or not understood by classmates…We go and other kids in my grade learned about into school and attend meetings, provide my illness and stopped treating me as presentations to classmates, and end up some weird person. Now [my friends and educating others on what’s going on with teachers] really try and help me whenever the patients,” said Gonzalez-Morkos. I have to miss school.” The STAR program’s main goal is to These children must adapt to a chaotraise awareness for special education laws ic academic situation, but equally imporin schools around the nation. tant is gaining the confidence to continIn addition, hospital tutoring gives paue learning alongside their peers despite tients a sense of normalcy and a divertheir illness or injury. The STAR program sion from hospital life, helping the chilat CHLA seeks to assist children by makdren to successfully transition back into their educational routine. Programs like ing this transition less difficult. n

Science Cafés Offer Intellectual Haven for Locals By manu gandham Writer Cafes have long been centers of creative activity, whether introducing new genres of music to the people, or displaying the art of tomorrow’s greats on their walls. Today, they are integral parts of a whole new revolution – the “Science Café.” With a mission to connect and inspire the brightest scientific minds of our age, Science Cafés across the nation have succeeded in drawing crowds of diverse audiences to discuss modern day issues with scientists and researchers. The emphasis is on free discussion open to all in a comfortable setting that is warmer, more relaxed, and more conversational than a lecture hall. Many of these events have started appearing near USC and offer curious and motivated students a chance to not only learn something new but also to network with scientific research professionals and other like-minded students. The Science Café concept first originated in France in 1992, implemented by scientists and philosophers who wanted to inform the public about scientific research and breakthroughs. In 2006, PBS NOVA, funded by the

National Science Foundation, organized the growing network of Science Café advocates in the U.S. to better manage their communications and provide them with resources and speakers. The movement has taken off since then, with over 200 Science Cafés across the country that meet regularly, and many more being set-up around the globe. One Science Café organization that is particularly prominent around L.A. is SoCal Science Café, a group started and managed by professionals in engineering industries, financial companies, and public service divisions. While diverse in their background, the leadership team all share a passion for scientific discovery and a thirst for learning. The group enters its 9th year this coming April, and just recently welcomed their 850th member into their ranks. As SoCal Science Café founder Dr. Brian Hart said, “That’s 850 people learning about the science that their taxes help to fund, all served fresh with a side of knowledge and discussion.” SoCal Science Café is just one organization in a network of Science Café groups managed through sites like Many of these groups are headquartered at The Center for Inquiry in Los Angeles, a well-known nonprofit organization that


At a SoCal Science Cafe event, author Rebecca Skloot discusses her book.

is dedicated to promoting rational scientific thinking. Students looking to get involved with Science Cafés can start by attending one of the many events nearby. Most are free of cost but include a suggested donation component to help compensate the speakers who travel from all around the globe. While the audience is made up of people from all walks of life, there is a noticeable lack of attendance by undergraduates. The participation of USC students would be mutually beneficial: they would bring a new and youthful perspective to the discussion and they would gain both knowledge and the opportunity to develop a professional network outside of the school. n

May 1, 2013

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Medical Consulting By MORGAN CHEEKS Writer Myocardial infarction. Automated external defibrillator. Skin grafting. Television has introduced the general population to an increasingly diverse range of medical vocabulary. With many of today’s shows, such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, and House, focusing on physicians, one wonders just how realistic these representations are. Meet Reef Karim, DO. With a long list of achievements in both the medical and entertainment industries, this licensed physician has been involved in multiple sides of medical television shows and movies. Not only has Karim served as a medical advisor for Alias and Private Practice, but he also starred alongside Heath Ledger and Christian Bale, currently runs a clinic in Beverly Hills, and has his own talk show. When asked how he finds the time to succeed in such disparate fields, Karim said he generally allocates a few days a week to each career—some days are spent on call at UCLA’s medical center, while others are spent consulting on set. Karim noted that the increasing influence of popular media across the world initially sparked his interest in a dual career in medicine and entertainment. “The medium of media, such as television and radio, is increasingly powerful…it teaches the general public


Karim with Terry Crews, face of Old Spice, and Nancy O’Dell, host of ET

indirectly, without sounding preachy,” he said. For those interested in impacting public health, writing or producing medical television shows is a unique way to do so. n

Medicine & Culture

Religion and Medicine MD for TV

Scientific research has also shown that personal association with faith in Web Manager a communal setting has had improved health effects in the general lifestyle for In recent years, there has been an members of the community. increasing interest in the role of religion “When it comes to prayer [-based] in medical practices. Many people healing, the evidence…is inconclusive,” may find these two worlds of thought said Burklo. “What is conclusive is to be inherently exclusive. Yet only religious participation. Being a part of a recently has the practice of healing been faith community is correlated with better considered to be more scientific than health outcomes, particularly longevity. spiritual. Having that spiritual support is healthy.” In a multitude of cultures around The subjectivity of faith is both the world, there exists a historical a strength and a link between the hindrance, but it plays clerical and the a significant role in healing roles of the the understanding community. Various of individual beliefs kinds of shamanism nonetheless. have been seen to “A lot of medical play large roles in students aren’t really the healing process happy about taking the of the not-so-distant professionalism courses, past. because it gets in the way To this day, of studying the science,” spiritual healers Courtesy Jim Burklo are consulted all Reverend Jim Burklo, during a trip said Burklo. “But these over the world, from to the Mexican border in Arizona. are humans you are dealing with. You have yoga instructors to understand them.” at the gym to herbalists in the local In the long run, it is not about having marketplace, for their experience and physicians fill the role of religious knowledge in the art of healing. counselors, but rather having them Reverend Jim Burklo, the Associate become more aware of differences in Dean of Religious Life, has been working beliefs and the implications on their toward developing a stronger connection relationships with their patients. between the medical students at the Different religious beliefs may have Keck School of Medicine and this faithstrong implications for how patients based way of thinking through his role view medicine and the doctor-patient as Religion Liaison to the USC Health relationship. Sciences Campus (HSC). “We have a speaker series [at HSC] called the Soul of Medicine,” said Burklo, when asked about what programs he is involved in the medical school. He has also taught many courses that instruct students on how to better incorporate an understanding of the place religion has in the healing process. Burklo is also part of a committee that will develop the USC Institute for Courtesy Integrative Health. “[The Institute] is all about putting Developing this understanding will western medicine together with create a more stable ground on which to alternative therapies, and then doing pave the way toward better physicianresearch into the efficacy of alternative patient relationships as well as better treatments,” said Burklo. medical practices. n


A Little Chicken Soup for the Pre-Health Soul By GURLEEN CHADHA and JESSICA FRANKEBERGER

problems. Each one conveys a common goal of curing the sense of hope and determination sick—and how they could Editor and Writer to live a normal life in the face of do it better. disability. Gifted Hands: The Ben As pre-health students, we occasionalRebecca Skloot’s award-winCarson Story by Dr. Ben ly get so bogged down by classwork that ning and critically acclaimed The Carson is the true story of we lose sight of the bigger picture. Here Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks how an inner-city boy from are a few books that will hopefully get is the story of a woman who unDetroit became Director you thinking beyond college and about knowingly had her cells taken of Pediatric Neurosurgery the current and future state of medicine. from her, cloned, and later used at John Hopkins Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine in every major biological research University. It is sure to inis Making Us Sicker and Poorer by center spire any pre-health stuShannon Brownlee Courtesy in the dent who breaks down world. This is stressed and needs A mer ica’s page-turner of a some motivation to conconvoluted book examines tinue studying and workhealthcare the social and ing hard. system in an ethical conseOliver Sacks’s humoreasy-t o -d iquences of medous and poignant An gest way. The icine. Anthropologist on Mars: book explains For many Seven Paradoxical Tales the ways Courtesy more great sugis a collection of stories, in which gestions, check each a unique case study institutions as varied as pharmaCourtesy out our website of someone with neuceutical companies, Medicare, and at n hospitals interact to achieve the Courtesy rological or cognitive


Scrubs, House, Emily Owens MD, and Royal Pains are all glorifications of a much coveted title—Doctor of Medicine. However, as much as they may inspire current pre-medical students to overcome hardships in their chosen path, they tend not to trigger the decision to take it. Many would expect that these medical dramedies serve as a catalyst for viewers to enter the medical profession, but instead, they have as much of a chance of accomplishing this as Suits has of converting a premedical student to pre-law. “I do watch Grey’s Anatomy, used to watch House, and I watched Scrubs and ER when they were on. I knew I wanted to go into medicine before watching these shows. They’re just entertaining soap operas/comedies that have a medical setting,” said ‘Ismet’ on Student Doctor Network (SDN), a popular forum for premed and medical

I think seeing doctors in a real hospital is more of an inspiration because I know I’ll be in their shoes someday. ‘Ismet’ SDN member

students to exchange ideas. Students clearly find real life experiences much more fulfilling and motivational, as shown by ‘Ismet,’ who continued, “I think seeing doctors in a real hospital is more of an inspiration because I know I’ll be in their shoes some day. In terms of TV shows, they are actors who are reciting lines.” Some are even disgusted by the portrayals of medicine that these shows convey to the general public. “It’s the fact that I know that things won’t be like Grey’s Anatomy that drives me,” said ‘TriagePreMed.’ However, despite these negative views, there are people who acknowledge that medical dramedies may have an indirect influence on one’s desire to pursue a medical career. “Nobody decides to go into medicine by watching a TV show. However, TV shows have definitely influenced how people view doctors, which could be a factor into one’s decision to enter medicine,” said ‘Stumpyman.’ ‘El Nino’ follows up with a personal story, saying “I was interested in medicine before the show, but I remember this show ‘re-sparked’ my interest while in high school. I don’t feel guilty saying House rekindled my interest or set it in motion. Of course I did my research and found out what the medical field really entails, but it did set some groundwork.” This balanced perspective seems to be the most prevalent. ‘Sunflower18’ said, “I don’t think there is a problem with anything fictional being an inspiration or a point of reference, as long as it is solidly backed up with facts, details, shadowing, volunteering, loads of information, and a lengthy commitment to the process.” In the end, it’s best to take everything shown on TV with a grain of salt. n

Global Health

May 1, 2013

Page 8

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Brigaders Share Their Trip to Ghana and Honduras progressed, we began to see that they were giving us just as much in return. blood pressure. Before I knew it, we had Personally, I learned so much, both in rebeen through nearly 100 patients. Yet, gards to medicine and patient care and in when I looked outside, the line of patients regards to life: learning to appreciate all the opportunities and resources available did not appear to be any shorter. In the afternoon, I was stationed at the here and to be content with life. Reflecting on her trip to Ghana, Wu pharmacy, where I filled out prescriptions and delivered them to the patients. There said she gained both valuable friends and were suitcases stuffed full with nearly ev- a rewarding experience with many lessons ery kind of medicine one could possibly learned. “On the clinic days, we would wake up imagine, from amoxicillin to loratidine to multivitamins. Delivering the medications around 8, have breakfast, leave and pick entailed locating the patient and explain- up the doctors, dentist, and ob-gyn, and then drive an hour to the community. We’d ing the dosage verbally. Day 4: Today I got the opportunity to set up and start seeing patients around 11 shadow the gynecologist, Dr. Jenny. My am. Every day when we arrived, maybe a role was to hand her the tools she needed to hundred or more people had already lined take pap smears. The procedure happened up under giant tents and canopies.” She continued, “We’d see patients until 3 too quickly for me to be uncomfortable. As she verbally walked me through the steps, pm then pack up for a while and go home. I learned that it was a quick and simple We’d input the medical information sheets into a database… After dinner, we would process that could potentially save lives. Many of us went down to Honduras do more medicine packing or counting out with the mentality that we would be giv- the correct individual dosages of medicaing to the people there, but as the week tions. Then we were free to spend the rest of the night how we wished.” Many of the elderly suffered from joint and back pain, and the children were given multivitamins, cold medicine, and other medicines commonly available in the United States. When asked further about the patients GMB worked with, Wu said, “Everyone in Ghana was extremely friendly. There was a slight language Courtesy Helen Chou barrier but we had tra nslat ors…who The little things in life: Honduran children bond with assisted us. There USC students in an entertaining local game. — from IMPACT, page 1

USC Pre-Health Study Abroad Options Grow By VARUN AWASTHI Associate Editor

Long hours in labs, volunteer work, and countless late nights studying functional groups or the cell cycle are just a few defining characteristics of the pre-health student’s lifestyle. When it comes to making the course plan of a pre-health student, it is a common belief that studying abroad is simply not possible outside of countries such as England and Australia. However, USC has recently approved two new programs specifically for pre-health students in Botswana and South Africa. The Council on International Education and Exchange (CIEE) at the University of Botswana encourages students intending to pursue a career in health care to participate in the Community Public Health track. The courses in this track cover significant public and environmental health issues in Botswana. The core requirement includes a community health practicum in which students are assigned to local health sites in underserved areas of Gaborone and the surrounding regions. As part of the practicum, students spend one week at a rural clinic while living with a host family. Students can gain a firsthand understanding of the health issues in rural Botswana. Students also have the opportunity to meet village leaders and take part in traditional festivals. Other components of this program include field trips and excursions to various sites in Gaborone such as the Jwaneng diamond mine and the Kolobeng ruins. A safari to the Okavango River Delta or Chobe National Park is part of the program each semester and integrates activities with a specific focus in public and environmental health. All students at CIEE are required to

take a Setswana Language and Culture practicum and are encouraged to become active in campus life through volunteer opportunities and student organizations. Students typically live in a University of Botswana residence hall or with a host family. The fall semester runs from lateJuly to December, while the spring semester is from January to May. The Community Health and Social Policy program, based in Durban, South Africa, is run by the School for International Training (SIT). SIT provides its students with a multitude of learning opportunities through small seminars and lectures from policymakers and healthcare practitioners. Some of the main components of this program include the opportunity to shadow community health care workers and visits to public and private clinics, health-focused NGOs and schools for children with special needs. Students analyze the major public health issues in South Africa and consider the causes behind public health interventions. Courses in the first ten weeks of the program include Intensive Zulu, Approaches to Community Health in South Africa, and Provision of Community Health in South Africa. 


Fun in the sun: Durban, South Africa’s coastline entices students.

Courtesy Helen Chou

Say cheese: USC GMB students in Honduras gather to take a group picture after a hard day’s work assisting doctors and seeing patients. was one day where we just went door-todoor and met the community members before the clinic, which was really helpful in terms of health and lifestyle backgrounds. After our clinic days, we also visited their homes again and taught them about water safety, how to take their new pills, and reviewed other public health information.” There were several memorable events throughout the entire service trip. One in particular stood out. She said, “A huge thunderstorm appeared out of nowhere and blew over our tents… The patients rushed into the building that we were using for the clinic…There were at least 60 or 70 people crowded into this house, and it was too dangerous for them to go outside and risk getting hit by something in the storm. The doctors who were with us, both native Ghanians, calmly continued seeing patients despite the crowded conditions.” Wu remarked, “That really stood out to me and reinforced the importance of the

work that we were doing. The doctors knew that it would be awhile before the next brigade came around, and they were very determined to see as many patients as possible. These physicians travel with different schools each week and spend every single day seeing hundreds of new patients, yet they still give their full effort and attention to each person. It’s really amazing and emotional to witness.” She said, “I met some of my closest friends on the trip and learned a great deal about the countries we visited, the people we served, and about myself. The most rewarding thing was being able to provide some basic needs to people who really deserve it. The trips encouraged me to look beyond the science aspects of health and to become interested in understanding the roots of these issues, how the international system is structured, and how we can ethically and sustainably reach out tot these communities.” 


USC Trojan Health Connection pre-health newspaper spring 2013 publication


USC Trojan Health Connection pre-health newspaper spring 2013 publication