Monthly Archives: January 2012

Lego Man in Space

Lego Man in SpaceWe’ve been talking about big dreams here on this blog. For a little lego man, even the sky wasn’t the limit last week.

Two Canadian students filled a weather balloon with helium, built a box out of styrofoam and captured the lego man’s journey with an attached video camera. The cherry on top is that the video quality is amazingly good!

This story proves to me that amazing things are possible when you have a big dream and get creative. The only thing that is missing is some sweet background music in the video!

Here is the complete story.

Caffeine Inhaler

Ever pulled an all-nighter, walk to class through the oxygen-rich cold, sit down ready to take the dreaded exam, and then all of a sudden the sleep-deprived, brutal crash sets in? Exactly 2 hours too early.

Well, there is a solution to this. A Harvard professor invented a caffeine inhaler called “Aeroshot Pure Energy.” Each inhale is equivalent to up to 50 mg of caffeine, roughly 1/3 of what a good coffee would have. It would take about 3 “puffs” to get you into shape just in time for your exam.

Reviews don’t seem too shiny though. Apparently it’s not a true inhaler, only an imitation that shoots out powder. The taste is supposedly bad and a pill might be more effective. There are also other forms of concentrated caffeine like gum or the mainstream “5 hour energy.” I still see some potential for a true inhaler with some flavoring – maybe even with kopi luvak coffee?

Weekend Inquiry: 3.5 GPA Good Enough for Medical School?

Here is a question I received from a student a while ago. I’m sure it will also help others with similar questions.

Weekend Inquiry GPA

Well I guess what I am wondering is just about your experience in applying. I think I read that you applied to 15 schools? Where did you end up deciding to go? Also, have you discussed undergraduate GPA’s and test scores with your fellow classmates? I have received reassurance from my pre-med committee that I will be a competitive applicant, however I still feel that my GPA ( 3.57) may hold me back. From your experience does this seem like a very low number or somewhat average?

I have worked extremely hard in undergrad and have taken on a lot of responsibility in many more aspects that simply academics but I am still worried about my odds of getting into my number 1 choice (UCONN med). I am in my last semester as an undergrad and am also taking an Examkrackers course for the MCAT.
Once again I think the blog is a great resource for someone like myself and people who are just starting to think about medical school. Thanks a lot for taking time out of your busy schedule to help others, this is a quality that I think will help you become an incredible physician.

Hey Fred,
Pre-med committees are sometimes completely out of touch with reality. However, with a 3.57 you are definitely in the potential pile of competitive applicants. About UCONN, you might get in, but make sure you apply to many schools. At least 10-15. I know it’s expensive but if you are at the cut-off, which you aren’t necessarily, make sure your MCAT score is good (30+) and apply as early as possible. Make sure your resume is decked out and give your essays (primary/secondary) to 2-3 very competent peers or professors that have experience and can help you to create the best literary piece possible.

If your MCAT score ends up being bad, take it again before applying to medical school. It gets harder every time you apply because their scrutiny increases. With a 3.57 you can certainly get into a DO school even with a mediocre MCAT score (26-29).

EK is great; I would also use TBR. I don’t have a high opinion of courses, because the learning will depend on you. Make sure you focus on both knowledge and thinking. What I am reading and the impression I am getting makes me certain that you will get in somewhere good but keep on working hard. Otherwise a DO school is a great option as well.

To reiterate, as long as you get a decent MCAT score (30+), have research/volunteering/medical experience and good LORs, you should be fine with a 3.57 GPA. Do apply early and retake the MCAT if your first try isn’t good enough.


Effects of Smartphones on Body Posture

Admittedly, I don’t have a smart phone. At least not one that can browse the web, access a satellite for GPS or utilize powerful medical apps. Come October my current plan is expiring and I am planning on getting either an IPhone or a Droid.

Some of you are probably reading this on your phones right now – I feel so old fashioned. I’m also a bit afraid of such a new acquisition. I remember the day when I got a GPS for my car. It was the day I forgot where I lived. Not literally, but metaphorically. Anyway, with new possibilities come new dependencies. And also bad posture?

According to some articles, neck and shoulders are at particular risk to become hunched from strained, hunched, overuse. And that’s not even considering my already strained eyes looking at a even smaller screen to read my emails.

Ever hear of Tenosynovitis? It’s the inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath (called the synovium) that surrounds a tendon. Symptoms of tenosynovitis include pain, swelling and difficulty moving the particular joint where the inflammation occurs. In medical school we also call it “text message syndrome” because it has happened from texting too much. Here’s a graphic picture of an opened phalange; note the flexor digitorum profundus and flexor digitorum superficialis tendons that reside within the sheath:

Anyway, happy texting everyone!

Patient successfully bills her Doctor for Waiting Time

A “brave” IT specialist successfully billed her doctors for waiting time because of “mutual respect.” In her equation one hour equals $47. My first thought about this was “makes sense because I could get billed for showing up late at some providers too.” I have never been billed anything extra for being late to an appointment with a physician, but my mom had to pay $50 for a no-show at a dentist.

My second thought about this was, “that’s messed up.” I understand that people generally get very frustrated when they have to wait, especially in our fast-paced society. Waiting for the doctor is unfortunately not a rare phenomenon, but what is important is the reason why a doctor is usually late.

Im sure there are plenty of doctors that are just managing their own time badly, but for the vast majority delays in treatment happen because doctors are seeing particularly sick patients (in some cases, like the ER it could be life or death), are understaffed, or forced to admit more patients than they have the capacity for.

In conclusion, not running on-time does not equal disrespect to the patient – there might have a very good reason.

Here is the video: