Category Archives: news

Twitter makes me a better doctor: 4 reasons why I use Twitter

Even as social media use among physicians gains popularity, I continue to hear doubts echoing from my fellow medical students, residents, and attendings, particularly about the use of Twitter.

Many of them ask how using Twitter has benefited me, and my answer almost always makes them stop and think.

My life has been enriched by the network of intelligent and forward-thinking people I have connected with on Twitter–many of them medical students, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, or other professionals who have made the leap into social media.

I have become a more well-rounded person and a more knowledgeable and confident future physician–and I’ve learned so much.

Why should medical professionals consider joining the Twitterverse?

The following are just a few reasons.

Stay up to date on news and literature. Doctors (and med students!) are busy and don’t always have time to seek out what’s happening in the world. Twitter conveniently brings news and research directly to your feed.

Doctors (and med students!) are busy and don’t always have time to seek out what’s happening in the world. Twitter conveniently brings news and research directly to your feed.

As a medical student and future pediatrician, I follow accounts of official medical associations, such as the AAP (@AmerAcadPeds) and AAMC (@AAMCToday), leading medical journals, including JAMA (@JAMA_current) and The Lancet (@TheLancet), as well as several different kinds of physicians who frequently tweet interesting new articles.

I first learned about last year’s pertussis epidemic in Seattle on Twitter, and have followed tweets about this year’s flu throughout flu season. I frequently stumble upon studies that may help me in practice; last week I learned that cefdinir and iron-supplemented infant formulas may cause non-bloody red stool when taken together. I also follow various media news outlets, such as CNN, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal to keep up with current events.

Share ideas and learn from others. Twitter is an open forum of conversation for the world. In my opinion, this is the most valuable use of Twitter.

I follow people who tweet about things that interest me, both medically related and not. As a medical student, I’ve used Twitter as a study tool, asking questions and gleaning knowledge from physicians, residents, and other students. I listen and converse in various tweet chats, such as the mobile health (#mhealth), healthcare social media (#hcsm), and medical education (#meded) chats. I hear patients share their stories and follow blogs.

Some of my favorite blogs are written by parents of children with special is a fantastic blog about Noah, a beautiful boy with Down Syndrome. The post of his birth story brought me near tears and provided an intimate look at his parents’ reaction to his diagnosis. I learned what they liked and disliked about their doctors’ delivery of the news, and how much they loved their son.

Blogs like this have given me a new perspective on this special families’ challenges and triumphs. This will undoubtedly help me care for my patients with special needs in the future.

Help patients. This does not mean doctoring patients on the Internet, following my patients on Twitter, or anything of the sort. Patients are online, though, and many are on Twitter. As medical professionals, we can help disseminate accurate health information on the web. Twitter provides a great avenue for physicians to steer people to reputable websites for health information, dispel myths, share helpful articles, and educate people on medical issues.

For example, I tweet and retweet articles from the CDC about vaccines, parenting advice from, and various other health tidbits from academic medical institutions.

It’s fun! Perhaps my favorite reason to tweet is that it’s fun! I love spending time on Twitter. I learn something new every day and read many hilarious or otherwise entertaining tweets along the way. I’ve connected with people I never thought I would, all with a myriad of ideas and opinions. The environment is so dynamic.

Twitter is an exciting mode of communication, and is something I engage in because I enjoy it. If you’re thinking about embarking on your own Twitter journey, but are worried about time commitment, just remember, what you do with it or how much time you spend on it is completely up to you. You don’t even need to be particularly tech-savvy to use it. It requires only the ability to type and click, I promise!

Of course, always be careful what you tweet and use good judgment. While Twitter may not be for everyone, I have found it both personally and professionally rewarding, and encourage all health professionals to give it a spin.

Brittany Chan is a medical student who blogs at, where this article originally appeared.  She can be reached on Twitter @BChanMed.

How physician families can spend more time together

As a child and family therapist and as a parent, I often see the efforts that families make to try to maintain a sense of family connection in an era of technology, increased demands and very busy schedules. Most families express a desire for more quality time together and an increased sense of connection amongst family members. The medical families that I encounter describe similar goals but often note the added frustration of trying to achieve this within unpredictable medical schedules and the medical parent’s frequent time away from the family. Fortunately, a high level of family connectedness can be achieved in a medical home, even during times of lower predictability and availability.

Many families find it helpful when the expectations, routines, rules and schedules in a home exist regardless of the family members present at a given time. When adults know how the home functions, even when they are away, it can minimize divisiveness and tension between the adults in the home. When children know that the entire family operates as a unified system, it strengthens their sense of family and their sense of security and predictability with each parent.

Many families also find it useful to develop special rituals. While routines are the components of the day that unfold a specific way, regardless of who is in the house at a given time, rituals are special interactions or activities that occur in some kind of predictable fashion with the intent of nurturing a relationship. These can be activities that only occur when the entire family is present to participate, like game night, a weekend trip or a yearly family vacation. Parents can reserve special rituals for interactions with each of their children, like a particular song at bedtime or a bike ride to a favorite location. Children can also develop rituals to incorporate the idea of their medical parent into moments when that parent is unavailable, such as drawing pictures to give him/her, bringing home a souvenir from an activity or planning a surprise or treat for his/her return.

Established methods of communication can also help nurture feelings of connection within a family. Some families like using family meetings. These can serve to keep a medical parent updated about any changes that have occurred as well as ensure that all family members have a place to feel heard, acknowledged and appreciated. In a less formal way, communication games or rituals can be a fun way of checking in with family members over dinner or before bed. For example, everyone can share three positive things and three difficult things from their day or list three things they are grateful for in their day.

In order to foster a sense of family and connection, a family needs to spend time together. This can certainly prove challenging when considering the time constraints of medicine, but families can develop creative ways to see one another when time is limited.

Ideally, families spend some amount of time together each day. However, this may not always be possible in a medical family. Instead, it may make more sense to simply choose a time of day (dinner, evening, bedtime) when all family members regularly try to be present and engage together. The family can then expect that whoever is in the house at that particular time will come together as previously agreed. It may also make sense to focus on creating higher quality family engagements that occur less frequently. Then the family can put more effort into ensuring that all family members are present and fully involved.

In order to further deepen individual relationships within the family, each parent can also spend one on one time with each child. This can happen more or less frequently depending on the family’s needs, but children often like having individual time with their parents. There are fewer distractions and a greater opportunity to focus on that one particular bond within the family.

Adult time can also prove helpful. This does not always need to be time-consuming; small, genuine interactions can go a long way. When parents feel connected, though, they are more likely to support one another, show empathy and engage in kindnesses. This is a strong way to set the tone for family connectedness.

All family members have a role in developing a sense of family connection. Parents need to acknowledge the impact that the medical demands have on the children and on one another. Genuinely listening to and understanding a child’s point of view without trying to dismiss or minimize it can greatly help a child to feel heard and connected. Do not hesitate to ask children for their opinions and enlist their help. What do they think could help? What could ease some of the discomfort during times of absence? What would they like to do with the medical parent when time permits? Involving the children can increase their sense of investment and value within the family.

It takes work, creativity and flexibility, but it is entirely possible to have a strongly connected medical family. Any small step you take matters as long as it comes from a place of genuine caring for the state of your family.

How to Handle Difficult Patients

As a health care professional, you come in contact with many people on a daily basis. Every patient is unique and each person has their own personality. It’s great when you can build a good rapport with patients and everything runs smoothly, but unfortunately, there are patients who can make your work more challenging than it already is.

Difficult patients can be needy, demanding, and question everything you do. They take up a great deal of time and energy, and can put you in a testy mood very quickly if you don’t know how to deal with them. Here are a few tips that may help you create better relationships with patients…

Work On Communication Skills

Oftentimes we’re quick to blame the patient for being “difficult”, but sometimes it’s good to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Is your behavior and way of communicating not up to par? Perhaps your lack of communication is making the patient question your actions. Spend an extra moment or two with the patient to really listen to their needs and make sure to answer their questions thoroughly. If this person in front of you was a loved one, how would you treat them?

Set Boundaries

There are patients who want you to be at their beck and call. They feel entitled to demand whatever they want and may even manipulate you into thinking that you should cater to their unreasonable requests. However, it’s OK to say no. Explain to them why you are denying their request and encourage them to express their concerns. It all goes back to proper communication between you and the patient.

Be Compassionate

Put yourself in your patients’ shoes. They’re probably just as stressed out as you are. Even the most difficult patient has a soft side if you remain calm and treat them with respect. Granted, there are patients who will just be downright rude, aggressive, and disrespectful, but keep in mind that they may be acting out because they feel anxious, scared, and unsure of what is happening. Ease their nerves by listening to what they have to say instead of reacting to their actions.

Your ability to communicate and relate to patients is critical to strengthening your confidence and authority as a healthcare professional in addition to reducing the risk of medical malpractice. Remember that every patient does have the right to safe and appropriate medical care. Most of the time all a patient needs is someone who will simply listen to them.

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How Doctors Can Reduce Work Stress

Doctors carry a great deal of responsibility. Working long hours, interacting with many patients on any given day, and being subjected to life or death situations can become very stressful. Tack on the mental energy required to deal with fellow medical professionals plus balancing work and a personal life has the potential to lead to burnout and medical mistakes if you don’t know how to reduce everyday stresses.

There are several things doctors can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to be more productive and not experience burnout.

The first step is to make a commitment to living a more mindful, balanced life. This requires a shift in mindset and paying attention to the things that are wasting your time while being more focused on your priorities. If you want to spend more time with your kids or a significant other, spend less time shopping online or watching mindless TV. Say “No” to the negative people in your life who suck your energy by their constant complaints.

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to get outside and exercise, whether it’s walking for 10 minutes each day or doing some type of outdoor activity. Besides the physical benefits of exercise including increased fitness and keeping diseases at bay, exercise helps to improve mental clarity including alertness and concentration.

Just about every doctor knows this, but how many actually do exercise on a regular basis is few, so it helps to have a reminder every once in a while. Finding a partner to exercise with helps to keep you on track and accountable.

Another great way to reduce stress is to find a hobby that activates your creativity. Do something fun that you can really get into so that it recharges your energy. A hobby helps you get “lost in the moment” and is very relaxing. You’ll go back to work feeling more inspired and passionate about what you do.

Much of our stress begins in our mind, so it’s also very important to develop a healthy positive mindset. Stop focusing on past mistakes and stop worrying about what could happen in the future. Negative beliefs can take a hold of our mind and have power over us, which can drain us emotionally and spiritually.

Reducing doctor stress is one step to developing a healthier and happier medical community. A more relaxed, calm doctor can be more effective in their work and contribute to a better healthcare environment.

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How to Apply for Scholarships

Applying for scholarships is a lot like applying to colleges. You start with a large number of possibilities and cut that down to a short list of choices. Then you have to complete and submit applications that include essays, recommendations and lists of achievements that highlight your best qualities. scholarship3

You may hear various suggestions about the best way to apply for scholarships. The truth is, what works for one person may not work for another. There are no secrets to applying. The best advice is to use common sense and follow directions.

Don’t Miss Deadlines

Some scholarships have deadlines early in the fall of senior year. Mark the due dates on your calendar and work your way backward to figure out how much time you’ll have to get each piece of the application finished.

Start Your Research Early

Researching scholarships, requesting information and application materials, and completing applications all take time. UseScholarship Search to get started.

Read Eligibility Requirements Carefully

If you have a question about whether you qualify for a certain scholarship, contact the scholarship sponsor. There’s no point in applying for a scholarship you’re not eligible to receive.

Get Organized

Make a separate file for each scholarship and sort the files by application due dates.

You should also gather the items you’ll need to apply. Many scholarships ask you to send some or all of the following:

  • High school transcript
  • Standardized test scores
  • Financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA or CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®
  • Parents’ financial information, including tax returns
  • One or more essays
  • One or more letters of recommendation
  • Proof of eligibility for the scholarship (for example, proof of membership in a certain group)

You might also need to prepare for an interview. And if you’re competing for talent-based scholarships, you’ll probably need to audition or submit a portfolio.

Follow Instructions

Stick to the word limit for the essay. If supporting materials are not requested in the application, don’t send them.

Check Your Application

Before you send the application in:

  • Make sure you filled in all the blanks. You can contact scholarship sponsors if you aren’t sure how to fill out part of the application.
  • Make sure your answers are readable. If you can, fill out the application online. If you have to write out the application, print neatly.
  • If you’re reusing material (such as a cover letter or an essay) from another scholarship application, make sure you haven’t left in any incorrect names.
  • Proofread your application. Run spell check and grammar check on the application. Also, have someone else read your essays to catch mistakes and give you feedback.
  • Remember to sign and date your application.

Keep Copies of Everything

Having copies of your scholarship application makes it easy to resend quickly if application materials get lost in the mail. If you’re applying for a scholarship online, save copies of your work on your computer.

Track the Package

If you’re submitting your application by mail, consider using certified mail or requesting a return receipt to confirm that your materials arrived at their destination.

How To Stay Awake All Night To Study Before Exam Without Feeling Sleepy

What is it with books and sleep and why do students find themselves trapped in this horrendous ‘sleep attack’ when they are supposed to be studying? Studies have revealed that one in 5 students will face this before very important assignments and poor results shall follow. The perils of sleeping right when you need to study can be really grave and you might end up faring really really bad in your tests! Stay-awake

Considering that we generally tend to leave maximum studies for the last day before the exam, it becomes all the more important that you don’t doze off! Here are some simple, interesting and doable study tips and tricks that can not only keep you awake to pull an all-nighter, but also in keeping alert and attentive, so that you can make most of your time and get good marks! Preparing yourself to study at late night without sleep would include steps throughout the day –

  1. No Physical Hard-Work – Staying awake all night long to study is related to individual’s stamina. From the beginning of the day, start saving your energy for late night studies that is required to withstand prolonged mental exertion. Promise yourself that you would not do anything that requires physical hard-work (extensive or slight) throughout the day. Talk less, move less and use phones or tabs less.
  2. Healthy Breakfast – Start your day with food that is rich in proteins. Proteins are basically energy boosters, and whenever you need to give yourself a boost, you should eat protein-rich foods such as eggs, sprouts, low-fat cheese and so on. This way you are going to remain charged and focused for the next 24 hours. It is also important that you have light food at night, so that you don’t get overloaded and become sleepy.
  3. Rest Your Body – Sleep loss takes a toll on energy and grasping power. It’s advisable that you sleep enough in the afternoon, so that your body has had enough rest for the night. You need to make sure that staying awake the entire night is absolutely important, otherwise, you might just be spoiling your sleep cycle in the time to come. Most of us are not able to concentrate on studies in the daytime, because we want our surroundings to absolutely quiet.
  4. Sources of Distraction – Turn off all sources of distraction such as phones and messengers. It is essential that you create a place where you can concentrate on your studies. You have to make a conscious effort to concentrate and throwing your phone away is really an important first step.
  5. List of Topics – Make a list of topics or lessons that are important to study because it’s almost impossible to cover entire course in one night. Keep this list in front of you entire night. Start with topics that are essential, you can enjoy and easy to understand for you; this is how you can keep yourself inspired the whole night. Leaving the less relevant topics for later is advisable.
  6. Make It Interesting – It is essential that you keep rotating topics of studies throughout the night. This way monotony will not take over and you will be able to study more and more throughout the night. You can find more ways that work best for you to keep your interest in studies.
  7. Write Important Points – Writing down important points will help in learning and understand them better and fast. This is why you should always keep a notebook and a pen ready. Headings and their sub-headings are most important points, so never miss them. You can also create a table of special terms or difficult words and a short note (of 3-6 words) before each of them.
  8. Correct Posture – Yes, we know how much you will crave for your bed and a quilt by nightfall. But the fact is that you are simply inviting sleep this way. You need to sit in a proper chair and place your books on a table, so that your posture is attentive and alert, hereby avoiding sleep and helping you concentrate more.
  9. Avoid Coffee – You are wrong if you think coffee will help you stay awake and attentive.Caffeine in the night time usually acts like a detonator for sleep. You should avoid coffee or energy drinks completely. You should rather drink a glass of water after every half hour or so. This keeps your body and mind fresh and active. This also means that you will need to go to washroom frequently, hence helps you stay awake!
  10. Taking Short Breaks – Short Breaks of about 5-10 minutes after every hour or so will not only keep you awake, but also give your mind a refresh. In this break, you can try pacing across the room, splashing your face with water and stretching exercises. This will help in rejuvenating your mind and body, helping you to focus better.

All in all, you need to be prepared well, so that your ‘all-night study routine’ can be a success. As a safety note, you should avoid driving the following day as there is no trick that can keep a sleep-deprived person awake while driving. Consider a ride with a friend or take public transportation. GOOD LUCK, Students!

How to Enjoy Food and Eat Without Guilt

It’s hard to keep your diet in check when you’re out enjoying a meal with friends and loved ones. And let’s face it, you tend to overeat when dining out or when in good company. The fact is, you can enjoy your meal and have zero guilt. It’s just about being smart about certain choices you make when you’re eating. In today’s post, we are listing down practical ways to enjoy your food without feeling guilty: woman-eating-fruit-salad-juicebar_5

Hold the Starters

If you can’t dine out without ordering starters, now’s the best time to wean yourself off this bad habit. You are consuming unwanted calories from appetizers like soups, salads or fried mozzarella sticks. Don’t think salads are all healthy. Some contain more calories than your average quarter pounder! If you’re watching what you eat, go straight to the main course. This way, you consume fewer calories.

Chew Slowly

Don’t underestimate the weight loss benefits of chewing slowly. The brain takes at least 20 minutes to signal the body that it’s full. If you wolf down that burrito in two minutes or less, you are taking in at least a hundred extra calories. When you chew slowly, you will feel fuller faster. And in the middle of eating, you’ll find that you don’t have to eat everything on your plate to feel satiated. This saves you from unwanted calories.

The main point of enjoying food is to sit down, eat a meal and savor the flavor. You can’t savor the flavors if you stuffed the food in your face within seconds of sitting down.

Splitting Meals

If you are often dining out with friends, co-employees or your significant other, make it a habit to split meals. Splitting your meals is kind on the pocket and the waistline too! Eating in controlled portions satisfies the brain without consuming more calories. So don’t forget to share. If you’re eating a steak on your own, you could be consuming extra 300 calories.

Get a Smaller Plate

Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. And it’s hard to track the food we eat when we dine in groups. A great way to control portions is to use a smaller plate. When the plate is small, you won’t be able to fit massive portions of food. The small plate looks full and this fools the brain into thinking that it’s eating more than it actually is!

Load up on Greens

Vegetables are high in essential nutrients including fiber. Fiber keeps the heart healthy. It also bulks up the stool and cleanses the colon. These contribute to weight loss. Even better, fiber also keeps you feeling fuller for longer. When you’re satiated, you are less likely to make bad food choices.

Taking Short Walks

Don’t get stuck in your desk after a large meal. Go out and use your break for a short walk. Walking for at least 30 minutes burn off around 100 calories. You burn more if you brisk walk. If walking is not your cup of tea, why not perform a lunch workout?

Lunch workout is comprised of high-intensity exercises that burn off fat and torch calories in just 20 minutes or less.

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