Architect Your Sleep

Sleep consists of a cyclical pattern that shifts between non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Through the night, or whenever you sleep, your brain goes through different cycles with each lasting about 90 to 120 minutes. 

Each cycle has a different depth that ranges from light sleep stages (N1 sleep) to deeper, slow-wave sleep (N2 and N3 sleep). The deepest cycle is REM which occurs during the latter part of your sleep as it alternates with the N2 sleep cycle. The REM cycle, therefore, is not only the cycle during which dreams occur but can also lead to various sleep issues if constantly interrupted. That’s when sleep architecture comes into play.

Sleep Architecture is basically a method that allows us to picture this complex pattern that occurs over the course of the night through the use of a hypnogram. It describes each of the different cycles of sleep as well as help us understand the consequences of sleep interruptions during each one. Like other aspects of our bodies, it is impacted by both age and sleep disorders. As we become older, our sleep architecture changes through an increase in N1 cycles and a decrease in slow-wave sleep cycles. This change causes interruptions of sleep during the night which, in turn, might lead to insomnia.

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Other sleep disorders also change the shape of your sleep architecture. This can occur if the REM cycle happens early in the sleep process and might have several causes. One cause is Narcolepsy which is a sleep disorder that causes deep REM sleep to occur at a much quicker rate than usual. Other causes can be irregular sleep-wake rhythm caused by disorders such as sleep apnea, withdrawal from anti-depressants and depression.

Written by: Milisia Fam

Works Cited:

  1. Brandon Peters, MD, a board-certified physician. “Sleep Architecture Represents the Cyclical Pattern of Sleep.” Verywell, http://www.verywell.com/what-is-sleep-architecture-3014823.
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Do What You Love, Love What You Do

The application process is, without a doubt, a stressful time. You’ve been working throughout your undergraduate career to gather experiences and skills which you want to display to medical schools. You want to pick recommenders who actually know you and need, with the pressure to finish applications as soon as possible, you need to remind them to get their letters in early as well. After everything is submitted, the waiting game begins and the nerves don’t leave as you wait for interviews.

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Despite the nerves, while preparing my applications and practicing for interviews, I realized that it forced me to spend time reflecting on my journey to medicine and how I envision my future in this field to look like. As a pre-med student, I had gotten in the habit of not stopping and reflecting upon the things I was doing and the reasons behind them. As passionate as I was about becoming a physician, I stopped actively thinking about the reasons that motivated me to volunteer at hospitals, the excitement that I received from medicine and the challenges that I’ve faced along the way. All of the personal statements, diversity essays, and interview preparations, however, dedicated time for me to just stop and think about who I am, and what motivates me. The application process so far has revealed more to me about myself as a person and what I am looking for in this career.

As I started answering these questions, my story came together and it was a really beautiful thing. I could finally see the foundation to this career that I was building. My interests in certain fields of medicine meshed with the experiences I pursued in college, challenging me to learn more about them in medical school, and decide if this field was really for me. As discussed these ideas during my interviews, these questions no longer posed as much stress on me as before.  It became a dialogue about myself and thinking deeply about why I want to become a physician. I am so excited to learn more about the human body and connect with my patients to lead them toward better health. As you start preparing for your application cycle, don’t get too stressed or overly worried about the process. All the schools want to know is YOU and how you might fit into their school. Show the school that you do what you love and love what you do.

Written by: Sharon Pang

Works Cited

  1. Lost in Pre-Med Podcast

Did the “Atopic March” draft you? You are not alone!

The crossover between pulmonology, dermatology, and immunology had always intrigued me as I was born with eczema and was diagnosed with asthma five years later. After conducting research about the correlation between eczema and asthma, I discovered that this story was indeed not unique to me.

Eczema or dermatitis is defined as a medical condition in which irritants cause patches of skin to become itchy, rough, inflamed, blistery, and in extreme cases it may even cause them to bleed (2). Whereas asthma is defined as a medical condition in which the air passageways of the lungs become narrow due to swelling and excessive mucus production which hinder breathing leading to severe lung discomfort in the form of shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing (3).

The study I conducted evaluated the effect of having the pre-existing condition of eczema on the incidence of developing asthma in children aged 13-14 years in North America (Barbados, Hamilton, Saskatoon, and Seattle). Using confided health records from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood’s database, I compared the number of asthmatics in two groups of 200 randomly-picked 13-14 year old patients (one whose patients had pre-existing eczema and the other whose patients did not).

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Figure 1. The error bars for the experimental group represents ± 11.4 standard deviations and ± 14.7 standard deviations for the control group.

There are many likely reasons behind why asthma ‘preys’ upon patients with eczema. Both eczema and asthma are affiliated with allergies. Patients with allergies are sensitive to their surroundings, especially when it is glutted with pollen, dust, pet dander, etc. For example, pollen can collect in the ventilation tract and make breathing difficult while also contacting with the skin causing irritation, frequent itching, and rashes. Another possible explanation is that the skin may be acting as a sensory organ as well as a signaling organ, thereby releasing antigens into the bloodstream, triggering allergic reactions like inflammation in the respiratory tract. The immune systems of patients who have both eczema and asthma are hypersensitive. Common allergens like pollen and dust which do not evoke a reaction in most individuals can produce allergic manifestations in patients who have a general predisposed sensitivity to allergens. In other words, sensitivity to certain substance(s) often correlates to sensitivity to other substances.

The phenomenon where children diagnosed with eczema eventually develop asthma months or years later is becoming so universal that medical professionals are labelling the progressions of diseases like eczema to asthma as, “the atopic march.” A group of medical researchers discovered that a promising 75 percent of asthmatics have the medical condition of eczema in common. Similarly, an Australian study yielded results that showed that pediatric patients with pre-existing eczema were up to 50 percent more susceptible to becoming asthmatic later on than those who did not have eczema. Other studies proposed the percent likelihoods to be as high as 63 percent. Medical experts believe that aggressively diagnosing and treating eczema can prevent the condition from worsening, and thus decrease its likelihood to trigger the development of asthma (Bottrell).

This is not to say that only patients with eczema are susceptible to develop asthma. In fact, the study I conducted showed that about 60 percent of patients developed asthma without having to develop eczema first. Thus, eczema is not a necessary prerequisite for the development of asthma. Moreover, about 22 percent of patients who had eczema did not develop asthma. Therefore, not every patient who develops eczema will develop asthma. For all of these patients, either their lungs or their skin had more antibodies present to fight off the foreign substances making it less hypersensitive than the other.

With all this talk about allergies serving as the link between eczema and asthma, could having allergies also work as a predisposition to eczema and eventually asthma? Something to think about, especially considering that spring is right around the corner.

Written by: Melissa-Maria Kulaprathazhe

Works Cited

  1. Bottrell, John. “The Link Between Eczema and Asthma.” Health Central. 7 February 2011.
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Dermatitis (eczema).” Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Mayo Clinic, 26 July 2014. Web. 1 Mar. 2017.
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Diseases and Conditions: Asthma.” Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Mayo Clinic, 30 August 2016. Web. 1 Mar. 2017.

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!


 

 

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