Tag Archives: health

Has the Influence of Harry Potter Spread to Medical Education?

As the semester comes to a close, it’s not unusual to see clusters of seniors chatting eagerly about how they’re going to spend their last summer before starting medical school. According to a study done in 2006 by the Mayo clinic, students that enter medical school with mental health profiles similar to their college peers. Although they spend their next few years training and studying on how to improve the health of others, they tend to disregard their own in the process. Reports show decreased attention to getting adequate sleep, meals, recreation and show higher rates of mental distress as student’s progress through medical school.  Sadly, the same study has also shown that depressed students are less likely to reach out for help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness.

With the worrisome consequences of depression in medical students including possible burnout and increased rate of contemplated suicide, it is important to contemplate how a change in culture within the medical school environment can be brought about to tackle some of the stigma surrounding mental illness.

So, what can we do to bring about this change?

Lisolette Dyrbe, M.D., and the lead author of the Mayo study, has encouraged a lot of conversation about the issue.

“It’s certainly important for the student to learn the right coping strategies, time management skills, and stress reduction techniques. All of that is important, but it is not the entire answer. We also have to look at school-level initiatives. There needs to be organizational change.” 

So, how are institutions responding?

Including pass/fail options for courses, reducing volume of course material, and giving students more opportunities to work and teach outside the hospital are just some of the ways that universities are working to lessens the stressful burden on patients. Many programs also provide mandatory resilience and mindfulness courses that teach coping mechanisms and stress management techniques. In addition, other universities have incorporated confidential web sites and hot lines for counseling, hired mental health experts, and have developed elective courses in health and wellness.

But, is this really helping?

Recent studies have examined these changes and have identified an important problem: students aren’t participating. Despite the good intentions of the universities and resources provided to the students, only a few seem to be taking advantage of these opportunities and these, more than likely, aren’t the ones that are in real need of care.

One program, though, has been able to show some success.

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The Student Wellness Program at Vanderbilt medical school, which provides a variety of health and wellness activities, has been seen to improve the health of students by effectively partnering and empowering the medical students themselves into organizing and promoting their own health and interests. The program has allowed the students to be divided into four “colleges,” similar to the Hogwarts houses in Harry Potter, that allow the students to connect and organize activities that provide an outlet outside of the classroom. Dr. Scott Rodgers, the associate dean of medical student affairs describes the aim of the program perfectly and outlines the importance of health and happiness for these students.

“It’s a challenge for anyone to stay healthy and happy. But when doctors are able to stay healthy and happy, that means patients get physicians who are more compassionate and selfless. They end up with doctors who really have the energy to invest time in them.” 

As undergraduate students pursuing careers in medicine, this discussion brings up some interesting conversations. What can we do to better prepare ourselves for medical school going forward? Are there ways that we can contribute to not only helping ourselves and our peers reduce stigma surrounding mental illness but also to improve health within the medical community?


sources: https://www.aamc.org/newsroom/reporter/jan2013/325922/stress.html; http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/a-medical-school-more-like-hogwarts/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0


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Two weeks to “Millennial Medicine”! #MMed13

Blood_Drying_Unit-_Processing_Blood_in_the_Laboratory,_Cambridge,_England,_UK,_1943_D16766The Medical Futures Lab has been humming with activity in the last weeks leading up to our inaugural symposium. Response to the program has been tremendous. In addition to our incredible lineup of speakers, we have participants coming from all over the United States and beyond, and all of the major players in the Texas Medical Center will be in the house. In the afternoon we will hear from physicians, creative writers, artists, hacktivists, and open-source educators as we reimagine medical education for the doctor of the future. (See the previous blog post for details on the morning panel.) Some titles to pique your interest:

“Story-centric: Curiosity, A Glass of Water, and Other Creative Tools for Future Doctors” (Jay Baruch)

“The Art Practicum: Clinical Skills for the Digital Age” (Alexa Miller)

“Hacking Medical Education” (Fred Trotter)

“Open Source Medicine” (Rich Baraniuk)

“Public Medical Communication: A New Core Competency for 21st Century Health Professionals” (Louise Aronson)

We’ll wrap up the day with a reception in the lovely courtyard of the BioScience Research Collaborative. We hope to see you there!

Register here.

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Countdown to “Millennial Medicine: Knowledge Design for an Age of Digital Disruption” #MMed13

Millennium_Falcon_in_LEGO (1)Only three weeks left before the inaugural symposium of the Medical Futures Lab on April 26 in Houston.

The design of “Millennial Medicine” has the Lab’s multidisciplinary-critical-thinking-through-creative-design handprints all over it. We’re bringing together thought leaders from inside and outside of medical education to reimagine the future of medicine and the tools we need to get there. Our speakers are covering a thrilling array of topics, including:

“Digitizing Human Beings” (Eric Topol)

“Can Medical Education Become a Learning Ecosystem?” (Marc Triola)

“The Future of Continuing Medical Education: Can We Keep Up with Exponential Growth in Medical Knowledge?” (Yuri Millo)

“Ten Lessons About Technoculture Innovation for Medicine” (Anne Balsamo)

And that’s all before lunch. Schedule here, and watch this space for the equally fabulous after-lunch lineup.

By drawing input from different disciplines we will leverage our collective capabilities to identify core problems, create critical dialog, fashion innovative solutions, and cultivate new patterns of thinking while fostering a uniquely creative medical culture.  This innovative symposium will bring the voices of the next generation of medical leaders into the dialog about medicine’s future by asking, “how should medicine look in 2050?” Join the conversation!

Register here.


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Announcing the All-Star Cast of the Medical Media Arts Hub! (aka part two)


We’re growing our team of multidisciplinary transmedia theorists and makers, and we’re inspired by the hackathon ethos of rapid prototyping as well as the “thinkathon” ethos of engaged theoretical praxis (thanks to the brilliant Wendy Chun for bringing that great term to my attention).


A sampling of our group includes the renowned multimedia artist Allison Hunter, bioengineer and co-founder of the Caroline Collective Matthew Wettergreen, Communications expert Tracy Volz, Archimage principal and Playnormous designer of award-winning games for health Richard Buday, media agnostic principal of ttweak consultancy and Houston. It’s Worth It. visionary Dave Thompson, and more.

hiwi_1lHalf of the reason we’re so excited about this new project at the Medical Futures Lab is that we have a serious celebrity lineup on deck to help make the vision a reality.imgres-1 And every time we talk about this project, we find more top talent ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work! Watch this space for more information on becoming a community partner or a sponsor, and look for some pilot projects to appear this summer. And, as always, if you want to get involved, let us know!

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