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  • May 30, 2011
  • 06:00 AM

Article review: Improving case presentations with theater training

by Michelle Lin in Academic Life In Emergency Medicine

"To be or not to be?"What could be more strange on a medical school curriculum than a theater training course? The authors of this study in Medical Humanities innovatively designed a 1-week elective course to help medical students at Mayo Medical School to improve their case presentation skills in partnership with the Guthrie Theater.In this pilot course, seven medical students (six 1st year students, one 4th year student) participated. The learning objectives were:Hear stories: those told by patients, colleagues and in written narrativesIdentify the elements of a narrative, and examine stories for narrative structure Share stories: through case presentations, body movement, storytelling and acting Present a patient’s story with elements of traditional medical presentation and narrativeStudents were evaluated for the following competencies:The cognitive capacity and flexibility needed to evaluate and acquire reliable clinical information. ... Read more »

Hammer RR, Rian JD, Gregory JK, Bostwick JM, Barrett Birk C, Chalfant L, Scanlon PD, & Hall-Flavin DK. (2011) Telling the Patient's Story: using theatre training to improve case presentation skills. Medical humanities, 37(1), 18-22. PMID: 21593246  

  • May 29, 2011
  • 01:47 AM

Yet Another Call to Arms

by Paige Brown in From The Lab Bench

A recent Salmonella outbreak hit 35 states, causing 73 infections and 1 death according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reporting on incidents this April.The recent outbreak is cause for special concern, because it was discovered to have originated in clinical and teaching microbiology laboratories, controlled environments where appropriate safety regulations are supposedly enforced. ... Read more »

Hayden EC. (2011) Salmonella hits US teaching labs. Nature, 473(7346), 132. PMID: 21562531  

  • May 27, 2011
  • 08:45 PM

Filtering Out Propaganda from the Medical Literature

by Michael Long in Phased

A checklist can help scientists who evaluate technical medical manuscripts to recognize medical propaganda, thereby helping to prevent unwarranted hype from becoming mainstream knowledge.... Read more »

  • May 27, 2011
  • 07:29 PM

Article review: Self-reflection using blogs

by Michelle Lin in Academic Life In Emergency Medicine

Self-reflection is an unique metacognition learning tool. It is increasingly being used in medical education (another prior blog entry). Traditionally, reflection pieces are writing assignments which are shared amongst peers in faculty-facilitated, small-group discussions.With the advent of new technologies, such as blogs (web-logs), how does blogging one's self-reflection pieces compare to the traditional method?Some of the research questions included:How does the level of reflection evident in student writings compare between the two methods?How do reflective writing themes compare between the two methods?What are student perceptions of their respective assignments?MethodologyInternal medicine clerkships at two different US medical schools over two consecutive blocks were quasi-randomized into the control (written essay) or the experimental (blog) group. Convenience sampling made it possible that each study arm enrolled relatively equal numbers of students between the two sites.Control group: Wrote a single reflective essay, which were shared in 2-hour, faculty-facilitated, face-to-face, small-group discussion.Study group: Wrote 2 blog posts and provided at least 1 comment on a peer's blog post. A faculty member provided online commentary and feedback.The reflection pieces were thematically coded by 2 coders with 91% agreement.ResultsThere were 95 total study participants (control group n=45; study group n=50).Seven themes were found in the reflective writings for the 95 study participants.Being humanisticProfessional behaviourUnderstanding caregiving relationshipsBeing a studentClinical learningDealing with death and dyingThe health care system, quality, safety and public healthBoth study groups demonstrated similar distribution of themes and depths of reflection. Post-clerkship surveys showed that students who were in the control group favored written reflections with face-to-face discussions and the blogging group favored blogging. This means that both approaches are likely effective.Bottom LineBlogging technology provides educators another option where reflections can be shared and discussed.ReferenceFischer MA, Haley HL, Saarinen CL, Chretien KC. Comparison of blogged and written reflections in two medicine clerkships. Medical Education. 2011; 45 (2), 166-75 PMID: 21208262.... Read more »

Fischer MA, Haley HL, Saarinen CL, & Chretien KC. (2011) Comparison of blogged and written reflections in two medicine clerkships. Medical education, 45(2), 166-75. PMID: 21208262  

  • May 27, 2011
  • 07:59 AM

Good things come in pairs: mothers of twins “naturally healthier” than other women

by James Brooks in Elements Science

Mining the historical records in the US state of Utah has yielded a link between innate healthiness, longevity and double births, reports James Brooks

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... Read more »

  • May 27, 2011
  • 06:00 AM

Paucis Verbis: Outpatient treatment for diverticulitis

by Michelle Lin in Academic Life In Emergency Medicine

The classic teaching for the treatment of diverticulitis includes:Hospital admissionBowel rest (NPO)IV fluidsBroad spectrum IV antibioticsDo ALL patients need to be admitted? There is some early literature suggesting that there is a small sub-population who fare well with outpatient treatment.This article from Annals of EM in the "Best Available Evidence" series summarizes the existing literature well. Plus, I was one of the journal reviewers for the article and am thrilled to see this coming out in print finally.[MS Word] [PDF]See other Paucis Verbis cards.Word of caution: This paper only provides guidelines, based on the limited evidence out there. Still use your common sense. For instance, I'd still admit patients who are elderly (>80 years old) or have evidence of any perforation on CT. If on the fence, admit the patient.Still it's nice to see that the treatment of uncomplicated diverticulitis on an outpatient basis has some supporting literature.ReferenceFriend K, Mills AM. Is Outpatient Oral Antibiotic Therapy Safe and Effective for the Treatment of Acute Uncomplicated Diverticulitis? Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2011 - in early press. DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2010.11.008... Read more »

  • May 25, 2011
  • 12:15 PM

Palawan’s fauna 14,000 to 5,000 (cal) years before present

by nath in Imprints of Philippine Science

An accounting of the fauna of the island of Palawan (Philippines) 14,000 to 5,000 years before present.... Read more »

Piper, P., Ochoa, J., Robles, E., Lewis, H., & Paz, V. (2011) Palaeozoology of Palawan Island, Philippines. Quaternary International, 233(2), 142-158. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2010.07.009  

  • May 25, 2011
  • 09:28 AM

Poland’s doctors earn £65million a year for illegal abortions

by James Brooks in Elements Science

Abortion is illegal in Poland and, as a recent report shows, doctors benefit financially from this situation. James Brooks reports.

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  • May 25, 2011
  • 04:55 AM

Camouflage in the eyes of the beholder

by Jennifer Appleton in Elements Science

An animal’s ability to camouflage itself is a practical defence, but as Jennifer Appleton finds out, their technique isn’t always flawless.... Read more »

Chiao CC, Wickiser JK, Allen JJ, Genter B, & T Hanlon R. (2011) Hyperspectral imaging of cuttlefish camouflage indicates good color match in the eyes of fish predators. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 21576487  

  • May 24, 2011
  • 07:00 PM

Motion, Theme, and a Human Face

by Paige Brown in From The Lab Bench

Lessons for a Science Writer from a New York Times Editor's Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing

I recently picked up Francis Flaherty's The Elements of Story in my campus bookstore, as I was browsing and drinking my third cup of coffee in between experiments. Turns out, I made an excellent choice from among those titles I randomly picked off the "Books about Books" shelf. I'm already an impulsive book buyer.... The quote from Library Journal on the cover, "An essential read for both freelance writers and students of journalism" just sealed the deal.... Read more »

Editorial. (2010) Science scorned. Nature, 467(7312), 133. PMID: 20829750  

  • May 24, 2011
  • 01:27 PM

The Science of Beauty

by Abi Millar in Elements Science

From parasite resistance to the golden ratio – Abi Millar examines the science behind what is considered ‘beautiful’.

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  • May 24, 2011
  • 04:16 AM

‘Guilty’ Dog look, all in the owners imagination

by Jennifer Appleton in Elements Science

Jennifer Appleton reports on how even the most innocent of dogs will get the blame for giving a look which is all in the owners mind.

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... Read more »

  • May 23, 2011
  • 02:00 PM

How to mend a broken heart: nanotechnology offers new hope for heart attack sufferers

by Richard Masters in Elements Science

Scientists have developed a patch that could help those suffering from damaged hearts, reports Richard Masters

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  • May 23, 2011
  • 12:48 PM

Younger doctors prescribe more heart drugs to no apparent benefit

by James Brooks in Elements Science

James Brooks looks at an Italian study that shows younger medics are less inclined to give lifestyle advice to heart patients than more experienced colleagues

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How to mend a broken heart: nanotechnology offers new hope for heart attack sufferers
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  • May 23, 2011
  • 08:31 AM

Earthquake prediction: fact or fiction?

by Michael Jones in Elements Science

Accurate prediction of hazards saves millions of lives and billions of dollars each year, but as Michael Jones reports, this isn’t always easy.

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... Read more »

  • May 23, 2011
  • 02:53 AM

Blue Lights Shown to Give a Brain Boost! But is a Better than Coffee?

by Stuart Farrimond in Dr Stu's Science Blog

It’s 6 am and the alarm sounds. Mornings aren’t a friendly place until you’ve had a coffee. Loathed by some but loved by many more, caffienated drinks are the world’s most popular drug. Effective as a stimulant, a mood-booster and an learning-enhancer, caffeine is an indispensable part of modern-day living for 90% of Westerners. Coffee … Continue reading »... Read more »

Vandewalle, G., Maquet, P., & Dijk, D. (2009) Light as a modulator of cognitive brain function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(10), 429-438. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.07.004  

Lehrl, S., Gerstmeyer, K., Jacob, J., Frieling, H., Henkel, A., Meyrer, R., Wiltfang, J., Kornhuber, J., & Bleich, S. (2007) Blue light improves cognitive performance. Journal of Neural Transmission, 114(4), 457-460. DOI: 10.1007/s00702-006-0621-4  

Smith, A. (2002) Effects of caffeine on human behavior. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 40(9), 1243-1255. DOI: 10.1016/S0278-6915(02)00096-0  

  • May 21, 2011
  • 10:13 PM

Life, Death, and Silver Bullets

by Paige Brown in From The Lab Bench

A Science Fiction story about the Age of the Superbug

There was something about her... a pale, reddish complexion, so rare these days... all the other desks in the dull classroom where occupied by students who faded together in their blue and gray hues... who snuck furtive glances at the ruddy newcomer, in her bright blue overalls and frizzy, untamed hair.
... Read more »

Patterson, J. (2010) Rising plague. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 120(3), 649-649. DOI: 10.1172/JCI42104  

  • May 20, 2011
  • 11:12 PM

You're just a number: introduction to the h-index

by Hadas Shema in Information Culture

Measuring a single scientist's output has always been problematic. Why? First, in order for the statistics to be reliable, the scientist has to produce a considerable publication output and get cited. That takes time. Second, measures like research productivity, number of publications and citations don't always correlates. Measuring the output of journals and universities has been far more reliable than measuring that of one person. Suggested by physicist Jorge Hirsch, h-index (2005) offers an attractive way of quantifying one's scientific output as a single number. The index is defined as:“A scientist has index h if h of his or her Np papers have at least h citations each and the other (Np − h) papers have ≤ h citations each” (Hirsch, 2005).So, if a scientist published at least ten papers, which each were cited at least ten times, her h-index is ten. A zero h-index, on the other hand, says that the scientist perhaps published papers, but is yet to have an actual impact.The h-index is attractive because it takes into account both the number of publications and the number of citations. It isn't phased by "one hit wonders", but favors a body of work that each of its components has at least a certain impact (citations).Problems and disadvantagesWhich database to use? Different databases cover different journals, conferences, etc. Web of Science, for example, has better coverage of STEM than of the humanities, which tend to publish books rather than papers. Using Google Scholar will likely inflate the h-index.You aren't a number! (Or at least, not just *one* number). Reducing scientists to a single number ignores other factors, such as their teaching skills and ability to collaborate. Can an entire career really be described as a single number?Source: PhD ComicsThe age factor: The older the scientist gets, the longer she had to publish and get cited. Younger scientists are at disadvantage with the h-index.Relevance: Since the h-index doesn't decrease, it can't tell whether a scientist is still active and/or where her work is still relevant for others in her field.Since the h-index is a single number, scientists with the same h-index can have very different numbers of papers and citations. In the following table, scientist A and scientists B have the same h-index, but scientist A has far more citations in the overall raw calculation. ... Read more »

  • May 20, 2011
  • 03:28 PM

The 9,000-year-old La Jolla Fisherman and -woman

by Kristina Killgrove in Powered By Osteons

Who owns the past, and who should have a say in the disposition of Palaeoindian skeletons?... Read more »

Dalton R. (2008) No burial for 10,000-year-old bones. Nature, 455(7217), 1156-7. PMID: 18971985  

Dalton R. (2009) Scientists in bone battle. Nature, 458(7236), 265. PMID: 19295571  

Schoeninger MJ, Bada JL, Masters PM, Bettinger RL, & White TD. (2011) Unexamined bodies of evidence. Science (New York, N.Y.), 332(6032), 916. PMID: 21596975  

  • May 20, 2011
  • 06:00 AM

Paucis Verbis: International Registry on Aortic Dissection (IRAD)

by Michelle Lin in Academic Life In Emergency Medicine

What do these three people have in common? Lucille Ball (comedienne)Jonathan Larson (wrote the musical "Rent")John Ritter (comedian)They all died from an aortic dissection. We commonly consider this diagnosis for Emergency Department patients presenting with severe chest pain. There is an International Registry on Aortic Dissection which published a retrospective, descriptive study of 464 patients with aortic dissections.I find this list helpful, because it illustrates the fact that the classic signs and symptoms aren't actually very common. Here are some scary examples:A pulse deficit in the carotid, brachial, and femoral arteries is only present 15% of the time. A tearing or ripping quality of pain is present in only 50% of patients.Not all patients have a widened mediastinum or abnormal aortic contour (only 78.7%).[MS Word] [PDF]See other Paucis Verbis cards.ReferenceHagan P et al. The International Registry of Acute Aortic Dissection (IRAD): New Insights Into an Old Disease JAMA. 2000; 283(7), 897-903. DOI: 10.1001/jama.283.7.897Free PDF article for download... Read more »

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