Friday, August 26, 2011

Back in Business

Congratulations on finishing the first full week of school, UB students! I want to focus this much awaited update on medical education and what different schools and organizations are doing to make med school and residency better.

First, let's talk about UB! This year, we can get credit for volunteering as medical students in the community through Service Learning. Write up a short response to your experience and spend an hour talking with your peers, and get an automatic "H" in your transcript! If you missed the lunch lecture on Wednesday, e-mail Debbie Stamm for more information, at

At other schools… Long Island's brand new Hoftstra SOM is certifying its entering student body as EMTs. Throughout their preclinical years, they get to/have to take ambulance shifts to gain clinical and team-building skills. Virginia Tech Carilion, another new med school, is spicing up the interview process with multiple mini-interviews: Instead of 30-45 minutes with one interviewer, applicants will spend about ten minutes per interviewer with several interviewers. This system is not new -- Stanford, UCLA, and others do it -- but it shows a trend at looking "past the numbers." University of Michigan Med is also changing the application trail: It has a smart phone app for applicants to track their admission progress. "M.D.Stat+" lets you check the status of application receipt, interview invite, and acceptance -- if you apply to U Mich.

On the GME front, the AMA is encouraging the NRMP to better standardize residency applications. Read the AMA's letter to figure out what we're concerned about. Also, CMS is planning to redistribute residency slots to weigh more heavily in underserved areas with low resident-to-population ratios.

Finally, check out The.Hidden.Curriculum, a "semi-anonymous" blog written by NYS med students to offer a cache of advice from med school social mores to wrapping your head around policy-speak.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Blog, You Blog, We All Blog

For those of you who survived the epic update last week (or so), here's a much shorter one. Scroll down for some breaking news, health policy style, but first...

  • Meet the new MSS GRAF, Abby Daniel! As the Government Relations Advocacy Fellow down in DC, she assists with the AMA's legislative agenda and policies on behalf of physicians, students, and patients. Want to stay in the know about health issues in the capital? E-mail her at to receive her weekly updates.
  • Interested in global and public health? Follow the MSS Committee on Global and Public Health at their blog!

1. Salt is still bad for you: Contrary to a recent article by Taylor et al (American Journal of HTN), experts still say salt does lead to worse cardiovascular events. The study's been criticized since its publication, but the press has still been, shall we say, overzealous -- see UK's Daily Express: 'Now salt is safe to eat--Health fascists proved wrong after lecturing us all for years.'

2. Contraception for all: Following-up from a blurb I posted last time, the HHS mandates all insurance plans to cover certain women's preventive services, including contraception, starting in August 2012. (But, religious institutions with employer-based insurance won't have to cover this.)

3. Genes can be patented: A federal patent court determined that isolated DNA is "markedly different" in its chemical structure from natural DNA and is therefore not a product of nature. This is in keeping with national policy since the 80s but overturns a recent lower court ruling and rejects the anti-patent platform of the Obama administration.

4. Acetaminophen can be dangerous -- just ask any first-year medical student. The Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition put together a shiny new website,, aimed to help consumer-patients figure out where the drug is hiding and what can go wrong if you take too much.