Category Archives: Rants

A Summer to Better Your Medical Career

What will you do this summer to beef up your resumé?

I will have 2.5 months of “free” time this summer. I plan to find a research project to work on or perhaps teach in a lab for that time. I also need to study at least a couple hours per day for Step 1 of the boards, so I guess it won’t be complete freedom. As far as I know, this will be my last summer I’ll have off until I retire, as it’s the summer between my 1st and 2nd year of medical school.

If you’re in undergrad now, summer is the perfect time to better your resumé for medical school. It’s a good time to start looking for summer research or TAing, a volunteer missions trip abroad, and volunteering/shadowing in a hospital. Keep in mind you may want letters of recommendation from the professors, scientists, or physicians you’ll be working with, so make sure to impress them with your best behavior and knowledge.

If you’re taking the MCAT this summer, hopefully you’ve purchased your resources already and have your MCAT Study Schedule planned to fit your needs.

Summer is an exciting time for all of us! Best of luck with whatever you do, even if it’s just hitting the beach :).

Medical Spell Checker – 100,000 Words

Here is a medical spell checker for those of you who are frustrated with red underscores all over your Microsoft Word documents :-). In addition, if you spell a medical term, disease, symptom, etc. wrong you will be corrected. The best feature of the medical spell checker is that it’s completely free. The spell checker also includes surgical equipment glossary besides medical glossary in general. Currently, there are ~ 100,000 medical words in this wordlist. Enjoy!

MCAT Changes Starting in 2015

This is a pertinent blurb from the AMAWire, the online news journal of the American Medical Association:

Changes to the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) will ensure that medical school applicants receive a wide-ranging education that enables them to communicate well with patients and understand the many social and behavioral factors that affect health, according to the Association of Medical Colleges.

Starting in 2015, the MCAT will include two new sections: One will be knowledge of psychological, social and biological foundations of behavior; the other will cover critical analysis and reasoning skills. The writing portion will be eliminated, and the overall exam time will increase to more than six hours.

Visit the Association of Medical Colleges website for more about the revised MCAT. Also, view a story by American Medical News about the test’s changes. The story includes comments from Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and CEO of the Association of Medical Colleges.

This is especially important for those choosing their electives or deciding a major in undergrad now. Make sure you get those social sciences in!

Infectious Diseases: Is Your Attention Divided?

During the 9/11 terrorist attacks, eleven people were ill with Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), and 5 of them died. I distinctly remember my parents, friends, and classmates being afraid to open letters because they thought anthrax attacks were happening everywhere. Frankly, they weren’t; the terrorists successfully scared many Americans, which I believe was the main objective.

What else have we heard and read about so often? SARS outbreaks which originated in China? Mad-cow disease? West Nile Virus? These, along with Ebola and Monkeypox have caused less than a thousand deaths worldwide. I’m not saying that’s a good thing. It’s just interesting to think of horrible, impacting diseases and often find yourself reflecting upon these.

Infectious diseases that have caused over 100,000 deaths include the following: Rotavirus, Influenza, Hepatitis, and the top three killers, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis. Do you find this surprising? Over 1 million people have died from AIDS. Non-infectious agent killers include lower respiratory infections, which cause the most deaths, and diarrheal diseases (e.g. cholera) which are a close second.

Check out the stats from the CDC on disability life years (DALYs) yourself:



Leading causes of DALYs due to infectious and parasitic diseases. Lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, and malaria are among the infectious diseases that contribute to the most DALYs lost each year throughout the world. (Each year of DALY is equivalent to 1 lost healthy life year.)

Turbines Replacing Heart – Life without a Pulse?

heart stop beating
Two doctors from the Texas Heart Institute replaced the heart of Craig Lewis, 55 with a mechanical heart. He continued to live for a month and died a week ago from organ failure.

According to the doctors Craig Lewis died from other complications and the underlying disease, not the device, which consists of pipes and two turbines. The mechanical heart was no regular pacemaker, it functioned entirely different and has been tested on about 50 calves. It would certainly be interesting to evaluate the device’s effect on Craig’s prolonged life and death.

I’m not sure what to think of this entirely. We already have pacemakers, but something about this video is intriguing. Will we have mechanical organs readily available in the future? It seems like we are still very far away from such technological advancements. Supposedly the biggest promises are in stem cell research and gene therapy, and indeed these treatments seem to have gotten safer than in the earlier stages. Of course, this would be a biological approach! Check out the video below!