The Pre-Health Track

So, you are now interested in the pre-health track. What comes next?

Make sure to click the link below for all things Pre-Health at Hunter College. You will find information on current events, clubs and organizations you can get involved in, graduate student acceptance data and more!                     Link: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/prehealth

For more information about the 2015 MCAT visit the website below.             Linkhttp://www.hunter.cuny.edu/prehealth/pressroom/announcements/the-new-mcat-information-and-updates

Before beginning your pre-health journey, make sure to schedule an appointment with one of Hunter College’s advisors.

GOODLUCK!


 

 

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MD/PHD

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“MD/PhD programs are designed to prepare individuals for careers as physician-scientists. The physician-scientist is an individual who possesses the clinical skills and knowledge of medicine combined with the expert mastery of an area of science and the scientific method… By the dual nature of their training, they are individuals with unique perspective: their MD/PhD training has provided them with experiences and instincts to observe clinical syndromes, to reflect on those symptoms in the light of fundamental biological science, and to pursue the study of those diseases through hypothesis-driven research.” – Robert Ulane, NYU School Of Medicine

The MD/PhD degree is one unlike any other. It is for people who aren’t content with the clinical aspect of medicine; they aren’t satisfied with only diagnosing the patient and prescribing medications. They dig deeper, into the science and molecular aspect of the diseases that manifest in their clinic.

The relationship between the biological science and medicine is incredibly strong, and each are vital to the other’s success. Biological mysteries are solved to give patients suffering terrible diseases a chance to recover, and medical advancements are made from biological discoveries applied to the understanding of human anatomy. Medicine and research coexist in a symbiotic relationship, each supporting the other and fueling innovation. They might be able to exist on their own, but will never be nearly as successful as they could be together.

This middle ground between a physician and a scientist is hard to acheive, and takes longer than a typical MD degree. The average length to attain an MD/PhD degree is eight years. However, the MD/PhD program has one benefit that MD progrms don’t have. Students who get accepted into these programs usually get their medical school paid for, AND a stipend during their years conducting research for their PhD! Definitely makes the long haul worthwhile, for the most part!

The road to become a physician-scientist is long, and filled with many challenges. However, it is highly rewarding. Here are some other articles to help you in your decision:

Written by: Elizabeth Gorodetsky

Reposted from November 2015

Related Sites:

https://www.aamc.org/students/research/mdphd/

http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2009_10_16/caredit.a0900124

https://biology.nd.edu/assets/31650/preparing_for_and_applying_to_md_or_phd_programs.pdf

India Study Abroad

This past winter, I traveled to Jamkhed, Maharashtra, India on a Global Health: Ethnography study abroad session. I was humbled by the successful, sustainable health care the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP), founded by Drs. Arole, provided to the rural villages in Jamkhed and surrounding districts.

Sustainable by Development

Dr. Raj and Mabelle Arole believed in “comprehensive health care,” which means that the living conditions of the villagers were just as important as their health. And this so logical, since we know that how we live directly affects health repercussions. Because of this mindset, Drs. Arole decided to progress the development of villages to improve their health. Some examples of this were providing clean drinking water, covering water pits (to prevent mosquitos from breeding and spreading malaPicture1ria), and improving irrigation (for water supply during dry seasons).


In the doctors’ book,
Jamkhed, one story particularly struck out to me about the importance of development in rural areas. During a demonstration when the villagers went up to thank the Aroles, the majority of villagers were grateful for the water pumps installed in the villages rather than for the medical work the doctors were providing. In impoverished areas, it is vital to provide basic necessities to improve health.

Sustainable by Empowerment

Another aspect of CRHP I was impressed with was that it strove to change the traditional social structure. The caste system is thousands of years old and embedded in the Indian way of life. On top of that, the society is heavily patriarchal. In order to fight these norms, Drs. Arole had to come up with tactics to change the perspectives of both the health workers that worked for them and the villagers. They sat in circles rather than having the highest status person sit at the head of the floor mat. They placed the water pumps in areas where the Untouchables (lowest of the caste system) lived, so that different castes had to interact to get water. One key tactic was to train women to become village health workers. This gave the women more respect and responsibilities in the village. Furthermore, training a villager rather than bringing in someone new to be the village health work allows the village to stand on its own instead of relying on CRHP.

CRHP’s mission and impact in Jamkhed has shown me that sustainable health care in underserved areas is attainable. My experience in Jamkhed has reinforced my desire to serve in an underdeveloped community. And now, when I hope to improve people’s health, I will remember that development and empowerment are just as important factors as medicine to better comprehensive health.

Written by: Sharon Pang

Further Readings:

Jamkhed: A Comprehensive Rural Health Project, by Mabelle and Rajanikant Arole

Toilet Paper Paradise

The “Toiletpaper Paradise” exhibit at the Cadillac House located in SoHo, NYC immerses the viewer into an eccentric and interactive experience. From the name of the exhibit, it may seem like it is just a room that has been teepeed, but it is actually a room containing many unique and unusual pieces. There is spaghetti wallpaper plastered on the walls and floor, a giant bar of soap with a bite missing from it, and a life-size plastic crocodile guarding the the entrance. Touching, sitting, playing, and reclining are highly encouraged. The artists want the audience to fully experience and try to take in as much of their artwork as possible.

IMG_1510There are plenty of comfy seating to be found on either the bed or the quirky sofa and various lounge chairs, so it is possible to sit and relax and observe all of the outlandish features and miniscule details that make the exhibit feel whole. According to the “The Architect’s Newspaper”, this exhibit is also known to be reminiscent of a feeling of “Mad Men on Acid” due to “…a range of mid century modern furniture that can be found within the setting.” The creativity for this funky gallery stems from artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari and is sponsored by “ToiletPaper Magazine”, which has many of the pieces displayed in the exhibit for sale on their website. This psychedelic experience is open until April 12th and is free to the public!

Written by: Elina Ashirova

Citations:

“Toiletpaper Paradise” on Show at the Cadillac House in Manhattan.” Archpaper.com. N.p., 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 02 Apr. 2017.

Dental Public Health

Public Health is a crucial and necessary movement implemented in communities in order to serve people’s’ wellbeing. There are specific organizations that propose projects to aid the community and its unique circumstances. Communities that lack imperative health care such as proper dental care are in great need of outreach programs that would provide them the necessary oral hygiene care. In order to provide this care, there are global and local outreach programs that target underserved countries or local communities.

Give Kids a Smile is one of many local outreach programs that targets underserved elementary school children that lack proper dental care. When I began volunteering for Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) through the New York County Dental Society, I noticed how essential outreach programs are to a community that lacks one. As I volunteered for this program I began to understand the power and potential that an outreach organization can have on developing youth. Give Kids a Smile allows dentists, dental students, undergraduates, and other health-care workers to volunteer and give back to the community. The purpose is not only to educate future dentists, but also to give proper dental screenings to children from kindergarten to fifth grade. My job as a screening assistant was to bring young children to the dental screeners and record any information the dentist would give me about their teeth condition. I noticed how these children, who were initially apprehensive, began to take interest and realize the importance of having healthy teeth. Thus, GKAS resonated through the elementary schools it visited, and created an impactful image on dental care.Print

Similarly, I spent one Sunday at the Annual NYU Dental Student Public Health event in order to learn more of how crucial public health is and what are the different types of categories Public Health could fall under. The program was divided into breakout sessions, as well as lectures and discussions with influential and remarkable keynote speakers. From a variety of engaging breakout sessions, I chose to focus on AIDS Awareness and Local/Global Community Outreach. Each session revolved around a specific prompt to focus on, we were also allowed to voice our opinions and/or experiences, and how those experiences and notions helped shape the way we see Public Health. Having an event where different aspects of Public Health are being discussed was influential to how we could keep progressing with Public Health. By discussing the pros, cons, and improvements in each breakout session, we were able to better understand how we could improve the oral care, dental ethics, dental volunteering, and dental compassion.

Dental Public Health is crucial in providing services and compassion to those who are underserved in communities. Whether the programs deal with global outreach programs or local programs in our own communities, Public Health organizations and Public Health schools all show the resonating benefits of coming together to create a better and safer life for another.

Written by: Danielle Golder

Health is a human right for refugees, too

Although media coverage of refugees seeking safety in Europe has waned in the recent months, the hardships faced by them have not. A new report shares that worldwide displacement has hit levels unprecedented on record published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has stated. This means that now, “one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum”. With half of these refugees being children, the need for comprehensive aid is crucial.

The 1951 Refugee Convention, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on the 28th of July, 1951 and entered into force on the 22nd of April, 1954, states that “the Contracting States shall accord to refugees treatment as favourable as possible, and, in any event, not less favourable than that accorded to aliens generally in the same circumstances”. The Convention defines a refugee as someone who “is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion” (ibid). Importantly, this is different from the term “migrant” which media sources have used interchangeably with “refugee”.  The situations they allude to are massively different. Migrants refer to anyone moving from one country to another, and may include individuals well-off seeking better opportunities. Hungary, Turkey, and Greece are all state parties to the 1951 Convention, and thus have the responsibility to uphold the provisions set forth in the legal instrument to which they have demonstrated their allegiance. The rights accorded to refugees include the right to housing (Article 4), the right to education (Article 22), and the right to public relief and assistance (Article 23)”.

This public relief and assistance importantly includes the right to “access health services equivalent to that of the host population, while everyone has the right under international law to the highest standards of physical and mental health”. This is especially critical for women and children, vulnerable populations in the midst of the mass movement of displaced peoples. Although the majority of refugees and migrants entering Europe are not women, 13% are, and 4,200 of these women are likely to be pregnant, and 1,400 are at risk of sexual violence.  The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) plans to distribute 70,000 dignity kits to women along the Balkans route to provide basic hygiene and healthcare items, and “mobile clinics will be set up at strategic points, staffed with gynaecologists and nurses along with materials for safe-deliveries and prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases”. While the UNFPA will also “boost the capacity of governments and civil society groups in the affected countries to provide quality health services for women and to prevent and manage sexual and gender-based violence,” a large part of the responsibility to ensure the health of the refugee population rests on the shoulders of the hosting countries. In light of the refugee rights violations in Hungary, the need for accountability of these nations is critical. Furthermore, the need to stem the conflicts in the countries from which people are fleeing is of utmost importance. Officials and analysts say that “sharp falls in international funding from United Nations countries,” are largely to blame for the “deterioration of the conditions that Syrians face in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey”.health-care

While the important political discourse regarding the shared responsibility of refugee aid continues, let us not forget that each day the basic human rights of these people must not be overlooked. The right to the highest standard of healthcare is among these universal rights and the responsibility of nations, whether they are members of the 1951 Refugee Convention or not, to provide this to asylum seekers is a matter of both legal integrity and moral. 

Written by: Prima Manandhar-Sasak

Teetotalism or Birth Control?

Recently, there has been some uproar concerning the recommendation made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which suggested that sexually active women who are not on birth control should refrain from any alcohol consumption. It goes beyond the usual rule of moderation. Although the suggestion has led to vast criticism from women’s rights activists and other researchers; this recommendation stems from an ongoing epidemic of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) that are appearing in many children. A report, released by the CDC, reports that 3.3 million women, ranging from the ages of 15 and 44, are drinking alcohol and are at risk of exposing their developing children to the disorders.

A child suffering from FASDs can encounter many physical, intellectual and behavioral deficiencies, including but not limited to abnormal facial features, shorter than average height, difficulty concentration, and learning disabilities. The CDC reports that 75%  or three out of every four women, who are trying to become pregnant, do not stop drinking when they stop taking birth control. CDC Principal Deputy Director, Anne Schuchat argues that half of the pregnancies in the United States are unplanned and most women who have planned pregnancies, do not realize that they are pregnant, until one month into the pregnancy. The report done by the CDC is backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that no “amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy”.

The report has been met with strong support from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and many health care providers. It has also been met with criticism from many. Many argue, that this recommendation sets an unrealistic standard for women. It suggests that women should not have any amount of alcohol, at all. The managing director of the American Beverage Institute, Sarah Longwell, describes the suggestions as “puritanical”. It has been suggested to be geared only towards heterosexual women who must adhere to the strict standard. The CDC, has been criticized for creating a distance between itself and half of the population. Many may begin to doubt the advice of the CDC based on its unrealistic suggestion. It steers away from moderation to absolute teetotalism. Many argue that the CDC, should avoid making unrealistic recommendations and help encourage protective measures, such as birth control. Birth control, has only recently been made more accessible, with the passing of ObamaCare and there is much more knowledge needed, about the accessibility and correct forms of birth control for different women. Whether one does engage in teetotalism for the sake of children, it is an important effort to learn about proper birth control and reasonable preventive measures.

Written by: Nuzhat Choudhury

Sources:
  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/04/health/no-alcohol-for-sexually-active-women-without-birth-control-cdc-recommends.html?_r=0

Well, That’s a Mouthful

Ah, the dentist. Just the sound of the word “dentist” is enough to make you cringe because you remember that time your gums were being pricked at with a pointy apparatus, and your lips were stretched by a twofold. Perhaps such an experience made you swear you would never return to that maleficent office; however, you visited the dentist many times after that experience anyways. Even though some visits to the dental clinic may be frustrating and painful, they are still helping you achieve a greater health status than before. Like machines, humans can have glitches and dentists could be considered potential engineers who could masterfully fix those maxillofacial “glitches” you may have. Dentists are huge contributors to ones physiological and aesthetic image. Likewise, maintaining the oral cavity is essential since its presentation mirrors that of the entire body; poor oral hygiene could place the body at a higher risk of obtaining serious infectious diseases.

Throughout the years, researchers in clinical dental studies have discovered how oral health and other physiological systems interconnect with one another. As children, we were constantly pushed to brush our teeth and floss daily. Such a routine should have been instilled in our daily routines throughout the years; however, some people may not take proper care of their teeth. Improper care for ones teeth could result in periodontitis, gingivitis, or lead to harmful internal infections. Recently, researchers have found that inadequate oral hygiene could be associated with risk of gastric cancer. Thus, regular checkups at the dentist allow one to keep their health in check.

As for aesthetics, dentists allow one’s self esteem to increase if the patient is uncomfortable with his or her hygiene. Likewise, dentists would provide proper alignment to individuals’ teeth as well as whiten them, or control and treat oral infections. Dental aesthetics play a huge role in developing individuals, especially in multifarious cities like New York. Individuals are constantly encountering one another, going to meetings or social events. In other words, that “dreadful” visit to the dental office may give you a healthier and brighter smile, one that would stand out from the crowd of people who were too afraid to step foot into that office.

In summation, dentists are glorified mechanics who mend ones teeth in order to provide both proper oral health and esthetic presentation. Any signs of oral health could be a result of improper care for the oral cavity; however, it could also mean one may be suffering from another internal disease. Maintaining orderly and efficient care for the mouth is one of the many keys to living a healthy lifestyle. Now floss away!

Written By: Danielle Golder

A Scope for a Life

People usually frown upon the idea of receiving a colonoscopy. They are only concerned about the unpleasant preparation that needs to be consumed in order to ensure maximum accuracy during the procedure. What they are unaware of are the inconceivable health benefits that come by undergoing just one colonoscopy procedure. The masses are not aware that roughly 140,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and about 50,000 of those diagnosed will die because they did not receive prior screening. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and woman combined in the United States. Colon cancer begins with a small colonic polyp, which is a type of abnormal growth that is found on the inner walls of the colon. Polyps are harmless at first but eventually turn into carcinomas, cancers of epithelial tissue, if not removed.

Colon cancer is a very slow growing cancer, which is the reason why it can be easily prevented. The guidelines set by the “U.S. Preventive Services Task Force”(USPSTF) state that a person, with no family history of colon cancer, personal history of cancer of the colon, rectum, ovary, endometrium, or breast, or history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, should be screened at the age of 50; however, there is a strong possibility that the age minimum will be dropped to 45 or even 40 because of a recent increase in cases of colon cancer found in people between the ages of 40 and 50. People tend to only visit a doctor after they have experienced certain symptoms for “x” amount of time. Unfortunately, early stages of colon cancer do not exhibit any symptoms, so it is important to get checked if any of the following symptoms persist: Blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, or unexplained fatigue.

It is unfortunate that so many people have to suffer and die as a result of this condition because a simple colonoscopy procedure can prevent one from developing this aggressive illness! The procedure alone takes approximately 10 minutes and is normally done under a carefully administered dosage of propofol, which is significantly safer than using general anesthesia. Typically performed by a gastroenterologist, a scope with a camera at the end is inserted through the rectum and into the colon. The gastroenterologist searches for polyps so that he may remove them using an instrument built into the scope that is operated by his assistant. Depending on how many polyps are found, the doctor would recommend the patient to return for a repeat colonoscopy anywhere between 1-5 years. If only people focused more on the pros as opposed to the cons that come with getting a colonoscopy, we could eventually bring down the colon cancer death rate… to zero.

Written By: Daniel Shoykhet

Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Classification

Breast cancer is the second most occurring cancer for women in the United States. It is estimated that there are 230,000 new cases arising in American women annually. It also occurs in men, but at a much lower rate of 2,300 annually.

Breast cancer is a form of carcinoma, cancer that originates from epithelial cells. The type of breast cancer is determined through a series of tests on breast tissue by a pathologist, a physician specialized in examining tissues in order to diagnose disease and recommend treatment. The pathologist examines the tissue through a microscope and identifies if cancer is indeed present and whether it is “in situ”, meaning non-invasive, or if it is invasive. Non-invasive cancers stay within their origin tissue, and have not yet spread to other normal tissue but invasive cancers have spread out to once noncancerous cells. For invasive cancers, the cancer is graded 1 to 3, through a comparison of the patient’s breast tissue with normal healthy tissue. The lower the grade, the less likely the patient has a cancer that will spread further. The higher the grade, the faster growing the cancer is, and therefore the larger the probability of spreading.  

Additionally, breast cancer cells can have estrogen receptors (ER+), progesterone receptors (PR+), both receptors or neither receptors. Two-thirds of breast cancer types have at least one of these hormone receptor types. The receptors allow cancer cells to obtain and utilize their respective hormones to fuel their development. Furthermore, one in five of breast cancers have too much HER2/neu, a protein that fosters cell growth. HER2/neu positive cancers are more invasive than other types. The amount of HE2/neu is usually identified through immunohistochemistry, an antibody test that changes cell color in response to an overabundance of HE2/neu, or a fluorescent in situ hybridization test (FISH) that uses fluorescent pieces of DNA to bind to the HER2/neu gene in cancer cells.  A triple negative cancer doesn’t have estrogen or progesterone hormone receptors and doesn’t have too much HER2/neu. Conversely, a triple-positive cancer is ER+, PR+ and HER2+.

A PAM50 test, working through identification of patterns of molecular features, is another classification method and divides breast cancer into 4 types. These are Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2 type and basal type. Luminal A/B cancers are ER+ cancers, but A type cancers are low grade, slow growth. B type cancers are high grade, fast growth.  HER2 type cancers are high grade and result from excessive copies of the HER2 gene in cells. Basal type cancers are triple negative type cancers, high grade, and require different treatment than the other types.

The extent the cancer has spread through the body can further be identified through more tests such as a chest x-ray, CT scan, bone scan, MRI, ultrasound and or PET scan. These tests allow the determination of the “stage” of the cancer in the body and are not usually used for early stage cancers. The most common system for “staging” used is the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system. T stands for primary tumor and is ranked zero to four, indicating the tumor size and spread to chest or skin. N stands for nearby lymph nodes and is ranked zero to 3, indicating if nearby lymph nodes have cancer and how many are cancerous. M stands for metastasis and is ranked 0 or 1, with 1 indicating the cancer has reached distant organs from the source. Combinations of the TNM ratings determine the stage of the cancer, from Stage I to Stage IV, with non-invasive cancers at Stage 0. Larger numbers for the TNM system indicate greater size, spread and severity.

Continuing research into cancer will augment our understanding of the mechanics of breast cancer and how to treat it. The fast pace of advancement in the medical field means that some of the current methods for diagnosing breast cancer may even become obsolete or new technologies may be invented. As such, the way breast cancer is diagnosed and classified is “subject to change”.

Written By: Kevin Yiu

Sources:
  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-cancer/basics/definition/con-20029275
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/what-is-breast-cancer.htm