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Latest Posts

What Kind Of Physicians Does The Government Want To See?

Here’s my [recent] commentary at KevinMD.  Let me know what you think. What kind of physicians DO we want for the future?

I was talking with a pre-med student recently. He had completed his very first medical school interview and was, understandably, excited. But he told me the interviewer had asked him what he thought would be the outcome of the current healthcare reform measures.

I laughed to myself. After 17 years in practice, even I don’t know the outcome, though I have my suspicions. It seemed a loaded, almost unfair question. After miring students in biology, physics, chemistry and every known application-padding activity, after expecting volunteerism and activism, I’m not sure why they would expect this young man to have any earthly idea about the reform measures from his current position in the medical biosphere.

But I wondered, since I’m not a medical educator, was there a right answer? And I wondered even more, what do we want in our future physicians? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*

Medical School And “Hard Science”

One of the recurring themes of this blog, not surprisingly given its name, is the proper role of science in medicine. As Dr. Novella has made clear from the very beginning, we advocate science-based medicine (SBM), which is what evidence-based medicine (EBM) should be. SBM tries to overcome the shortcomings of EBM by taking into account all the evidence, both scientific and clinical, in deciding what therapies work, what therapies don’t work, and why.

To recap, a major part of our thesis is that EBM, although a step forward over prior dogma-based medical models, ultimately falls short of making medicine as effective as it can be. As currently practiced, EBM appears to worship clinical trial evidence above all else and nearly completely ignores basic science considerations, relegating them to the lowest form of evidence, lower than even small case series. This blind spot has directly contributed to the infiltration of quackery into academic medicine and so-called EBM because in the cases of ridiculously improbable modalities like homeopathy and reiki, deficiencies in how clinical trials are conducted and analyzed can make it appear that these modalities might actually have efficacy. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Pre-Med Vs. Liberal Arts: “Don’t Know Much Biology”

Study painting, drama or the “soft” social sciences and you’ll probably be a pretty good doctor anyway. Mt. Sinai School of Medicine has been doing it for years and compared students in a special liberal arts admissions program to its traditional pre-med students.

For years, Mt. Sinai has admitted students from Amherst, Brandeis, Princeton, Wesleyan, and Williams colleges based on a written application with personal essays, verbal and math SAT scores, high school and college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal interviews. No MCAT is required.

Students need to take one year of biology and one year of chemistry and maintain (swallow hard) a “B” average. They later get an abbreviated course in organic chemistry and medical physics. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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