Cavalcade of Risk #112: The Cavalcade Gets Schooled
It truly is an honour to have been asked to host the 112th edition of the Cavalcade of Risk blog carnival! After all, I am but a lowly, economics-trained fledgling first-year medical student who has been blogging here for less than six months (still considerably longer than my time as a med student to date!) and who still has the occasional blog formatting issue or two.
The excitement surrounding the start of medical school is far from wearing off; as a result of that continued excitement, I decided to take the Cavalcade with me to classes. Remember: everything you read here is fair game for the final (and the licensing exam)!
Cavalcade of Risk #112: Medical School Edition
Behaviour and the Brain
Brains are important. There are several pre-clinical courses that deal with them, and not just because the subject has a starring role in the licensing exam (and on the menu at the Bistro Zombie). The brain is the seat of our behaviour, emotion, rational capacity, and risk assessment capability. Even with this fascinating organ working at full tilt, dealing with risk rationally can be difficult. Of course, we humans are far from perfectly rational, which makes for even greater challenges. GrrlScientist links to a TED talk in which a researcher tries to gain insight into the root of human irrationality by examining decision-making in monkeys. [CONGRESS JOKE DELETED]
Perhaps the most fun part of medical school orientation is the parade of sessions required by law, by the university, or by the medical school, for little other purpose than to be able to check off a box and say “the students are aware of the policy.”
Of course, some of this compliance information is actually high-stakes. For instance, this year’s HIPAA training session included a portion on medical identity theft red flags. However, as well-trained and as eagle-eyed as the medical students are, you are your best first line of defence when it comes to preventing medical identity theft. Ryan from CashMoneyLife has a post that explains how patients can both detect and protect themselves from medical identity theft.
“Phys” is all about how stuff works. The typical first-year physiology course is a detailed overview of how the body works under normal conditions. It’s easy to take for granted the complexity and intricacy of the processes that keep us alive, in part because most of the time, it all works without any effort on our part (knock on wood).
Protecting the normal physiology of business partnerships is the subject of the next post. Jacob at My Personal Finance Journey explains how a combination of buy-sell agreements and properly-structured life insurance contracts can be used to make small business partnership succession go much more smoothly with much less effort at a stage where there will already be so much in flux.
Histology, the study of tissues, typically involves lots of staining, sketching, and microscopy. While advances in technology means that some slides are digitized for ease of review, there’s still plenty of opportunity to get your hands dirty with “the real deal,” just like the Disease Management Care Blog did with his submission to this week’s Cavalcade. Dr. Jaan Sidorov has found the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s “Blank” proposal defining the medical-loss ratio, stained it, and put it under the digital microscope for all to view.
I’ve always been impressed by the ability of nearly every physician I know to rattle off drug names (and their indications, side effects, etc.) with seemingly perfect, instantaneous recall. I’d imagine that the months-long pharmacology course in year 2 has something to do with that. “Better living through chemistry” can be tricky to achieve if you don’t know your chemicals.
Jason Shafrin, the Healthcare Economist, describes one set of efforts to improve the benefits of pharmacological therapy by involving pharmacists more directly with the patient’s medication therapy management.
“Path” examines how the body’s structures respond to a variety of stimuli, usually bad ones. It seeks to answer the questions “what’s going on here? What’s wrong? What do these cells do when we [injure/mutate/slander] them?” In this vein, the ever-intrepid InsureBloggers emerge from their basement labs to look at one state’s new PPACA-created Pre-existing Condition Insurance Pool, and provide a concise and focused overview of its pathologies.
I’m fortunate to be able to use so much of the material from my undergraduate vertebrate anatomy class to review terms for medical school anatomy. Despite the fact that, in college, we worked on cows and cats instead of humans, the similarities between the vertebrates are such that a comparative approach to anatomy can yield great dividends. For instance, courtesy of National Geographic TV, I know of a whale anatomist who works out of a human medical school in New York City.
Joel, our next poster, uses the techniques of comparative insurance anatomy to arrive at this tongue-in-cheek “Plea For Car Insurance Reform.” As with the vertebrates, insights from one area of the insurance world may be able to tell you something about the others.
Biostatistics and Epidemiology
Biostats teaches medical students how to use quantitative tools at a basic level. Being able to critically evaluate new biomedical research is a crucial tool for those of us entering medicine at this time of seemingly-exponential change. Epidemiology more broadly examines health status and disease in the aggregate, including surveillance of epidemics and monitoring of health trends. Careful use of the tools of these fields can allow one to make reasonable predictions about the future of wellness trends and epidemics, or, if you’re Louise of Colorado Health Insurance Insider, the future of PPACA-grandfathered insurance plans.
The range of extra-curricular activities at SUMS (Sorta Urban Med School) seems nearly endless. There are running clubs, research opportunities, student government positions, specialty interest groups… the list goes on. However, one set of time-honoured activities among medical students is health outreach and education within the local community. Many medical schools are located in or near areas in which there are major problems with access to healthcare and accurate health information; students can and do rise to the challenge of filling those gaps as best as they can.
These outreach projects can range in tone from the humour-filled to the gravely serious. Julie Ferguson at Workers’ Comp Insider shares a feel-good breast cancer awareness video, along with some other chuckle-inducing medical parody videos. David Williams, host of Cavalcade of Risk #113 in two weeks, posts a guest piece about the lies and dangers of so-called “pro-ana” websites.
Material unrelated to the course that nevertheless shows up on the final because it’s the professor’s niche research interest
One of the risks of starting medical school, with its concomitant classes and extra-curricular activities, is that it will affect your blogging output. Nonetheless, I plan to stick around. I invite all of you CoR readers to poke around the rest of this site. If you like what you see (and even if you don’t), I’d love nothing better than to have you stick around with me!
Cavalcade of Risk #113 will be hosted at the Health Business Blog.
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