Step 1: Teach

I was swept away in the conversation about life choices, movies, and culture. As I walked out of the room, I was shocked to find out that almost an hour had passed by already. I was at New York Methodist Hospital volunteering as a part of the Congestive Heart Failure Volunteer Intervention Program (CHF-VIP).

This program trains volunteers to teach heart failure (CHF) patients about healthier life choices and prevent re-hospitalization. We visited the patients in the hospital to give them “teachbacks.” During the teachbacks, we covered diet changes, reminders to take prescribed medicine, and ways to survey if symptoms were worsening. Then, if given permission, we gave callbacks every two weeks for six weeks after the patient’s discharge. In the callbacks, we answered patient’s questions, and reminded them about what we talked about in the teachback. We also encouraged them to make an appointment with a cardiologist within two weeks after discharge.

Often times, I would finish these teachbacks in 10 to 15 minutes. I would go in and follow the lesson I had practiced many times teaching, wait for any questions and then leave the room. However, during one of my shifts I ended up speaking to the patient for almost an hour regarding his past failures to change his lifestyle for his health. As I continued talking to him, he seemed encouraged, even motivated to learn more and change. He even quoted from a movie, “We all die, but it’s about how we die.” I was inspired by his response to take these teachbacks as opportunities to look into the window of the patient’s life. I took more time to ask the patient questions and empathize his or her situation. I found the time spent much more rewarding, and experiences confirmed my hopes of becoming a doctor someday.

During a lecture I attended as a part of NYM’s Summer College Intensive Program, an E.D. doctor wisely told us, “All doctors are teachers. In order to be a good doctor, you must be able to teach your patients about the disease, symptoms, and possible solutions.” I did not really see the truth behind her words until I saw how my teachbacks and callbacks affected patients. NYM’s CHF-VIP has taught me and helped me develop one of the most important steps in becoming a good physician: to teach.animated-light-bulb-gif-30

 

Written By: Sharon Pang

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A Refresher on Healthcare in the 2016 Presidential Election

Amidst the ubiquitous poll numbers and televised debates that draw widespread attention to the 2016 presidential candidates, lies the issue of healthcare. With a variety of stances present in the field, it’s important to consider the potential plans that will shape the healthcare system in the years to come. Whether attune to or averse to the political landscape of the country, the policies shaped by the next commander-in-chief will impact us all. Here is a summary of the vision current front-runner candidates have for healthcare in America.

Within the Democratic party, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have quite the difference in their philosophy on the fate of the current Affordable Care Act. Secretary Clinton believes in keeping the majority of the Act [1]. Among her proposed policies include initiatives to put a limit to out-of-pocket drug costs [ibid]. Senator Sanders, on the other hand, has proposed a single-payer healthcare system that would essentially be a Medicaid-for-all system [2], though he too is seeking to address high prescription drug costs. The Republican group of candidates, on the other hand, has expressed a pronounced desire to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. Donald Trump believes in open competition and letting individuals shop for insurance, though in 2000 he supported universal healthcare [3]. Senator Cruz in 2013 led a government shutdown in an effort to defund the Affordable Care [ibid], and seeks to repeal the entire Act. Senator Rubio has opposed the Act, saying it stifles entrepreneurship [ibid].

On the subject of vaccines, there is more concurrence. Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders favor vaccinations [3], saying they are supported by science and electing not to vaccinate is dangerous, respectively [3]. Donald Trump says he’s for vaccines, but believes in “smaller quantities to avoid autism” [ibid]. Senators Cruz and Rubio believe in vaccinations [ibid].

In light of global health issues, the candidates have differing levels of commitment. In 2014, to combat Ebola Secretary Clinton proposed putting resources into Africa, and in 2007 pledged to support $50 billion towards AIDs relief in the US and around the world [3]. Senator Rubio said that only the US could combat Ebola, and that the World Health Organization could not [ibid].

In deciding which candidate is most fit to be the next leader of our country, we must ask what we believe to be the ideal and pragmatic health system ourselves. Do you believe in a centralized or decentralized system? A president that will place global health issues high on the priority list? These are all questions to consider the next time you hear from the 2017 presidential hopefuls.

American Election
American election campaign fight as Republican Versus Democrat represented by two boxing gloves with the elephant and donkey symbol stitched fighting for the vote of the United states citizens for an election win.

Written By: Prima Manandhar-Sasaki

Sources:
  1. “Presidential candidates on healthcare.” New York Times. n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016
  2. “2016 presidential candidates on healthcare.” Ballotpedia. n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
  3. “Health Care.” On the Issues. n.d. Web 16 Feb. 2016

I Challenge You.

Life is hard. It’s not easy when you are working towards your dream and you put everything you had in it, and it just doesn’t work out. It can be extremely disappointing when you tried your best in your classes, but it just was not good enough. You’re knocked down, and it seems like staying down isn’t a bad alternative. You begin to believe that not doing your best is ok because this way you can always have the excuse, “I obviously could have done it if I did my best”. I know because this was how I felt not too long ago. A lackadaisical lifestyle is a disease. It ruses you into believing that it’s ok for you not to start your essay, that’s due in a week, now. You can just start it the day before and get a mediocre grade. This lifestyle is the reason people quit their dream of becoming a doctor. It is the reason I almost I gave up. I saw the requirements for medical school and the first thing I felt was fear. People are afraid to give it everything they have and find out that it’s too hard; that they just can’t do it. So they give up. I stopped showing up to my classes, I stopped caring about my homework. Unfortunately, there are consequences that come with throwing in the towel. The consequences are that you’ll never know if what you had envisioned for yourself is possible. You’ll live everyday of your life wondering if you made the right decision by picking the less challenging career. Regret ate away at me because I realized the only reason I even thought of quitting was because things got hard.

wallpaper-if-it-doesnt-challenge-you-it-doesnt-change-you-brushstrokes-blue (1)A famous motivational speaker once said, “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory”, meaning that the time and effort you spend working towards your goal will, in the long run, have a much more satisfying feeling, as opposed to giving in to your short term pleasures. If you truly care about people and wish to do something in your life that would better humanity, then go the extra mile. Use your desire to help those that are in need to get you through biology, chemistry, physics, etc. There will always be someone in your life putting you down. They will tell you, “It’s too hard, you can’t do it, your GPA isn’t high enough, do something else”, but you cannot give in. People who can’t do something themselves will tell you you can’t do it either. So in spite of the fact that your GPA isn’t high enough, in spite of the fact you have people telling you, left and right, you don’t have what it takes, I ask that you don’t lose sight of your ambitions.

I ask that you never give up; no matter how bad things may seem. I challenge you to stand back up every single time life knocks you down and fight! Fight for your dreams with every single fiber in your body screaming, “I CAN DO IT!” I challenge you to go against the odds, against the naysayers, against your former self! Show everyone that impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men. Be prepared to dedicate all of your time to mastering your craft. Your goal is to reach the ultimate skill level.  While other people sleep, you are working. While other people eat, you are working. You are aiming to achieve unreasonable results, and in order to do that you must become an unreasonable person. You will endure the long hours of studying and drudgery because they are not as painful as knowing that you let your dreams slip away from you. It will not be easy. If it were easy, everybody would do it. You are not everybody. I challenge you.

Written by: Daniel Shoykhet

Be Thankful This Year

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful…especially when you’re battling fifty people to get on the 6 train or not sure if you’ll ever see the end of the organic chemistry textbook. But science and common sense tell us that gratitude is the best way to handle all the stress that we get (Brooks 2). A research article published in the journal Cerebral Cortex explains that “gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure)” (Brooks 2). I mean, when you talk to friend who’s happy to be where he or she is in life, you can tell that he or she is a lot more equipped against all the challenges life throws at us.

Growing up, a lot of people complimented my joyful perspective on the world. I didn’t think twice about it; it was just second nature for me. However, as I started college and the struggles of pre-med track, I gradually began to see that side of me fade. I often found myself complaining more than smiling. I isolated myself to better focus on my studies. Although I was spending more time studying, I was often distracted or too tired. During this past month, I came across Brooks’ article, Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier, in the NY Times. I started to reflect on how I was going through my days this semester. My motivation levels were at an all-time low because I had lost an important habit of being thankful and glad. This Thanksgiving break, I spent time at home with my family. I intentionally thought about things that I’m grateful for: education, close friends, family members, my boyfriend, even the ability to comprehend and memorize…Coming back from this break and realization, I find myself rested and invigorated to finish my semester well!

It might be hard to see things to be grateful for amidst all the schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but what about why you decided to stick with pre-med in the first place? Be grateful for all the awesome science-y things you learn everyday and how cool the human body is! Give thanks for your support system during all of this pressure! Be thankful about your passion and perseverance to help others! Biochemistry might be a different language right now, but don’t forget why you’re studying it. The hardest aspect of gratitude is doing it when you don’t feel like it. But that’s when we need it the most. So the next time you’re ready to give up on memorizing the steps of the Citric Acid Cycle, take a breather and think about what you’re grateful for.

Written by: Sharon Pang

Getting the Jitters?

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably part of the 54 percent of adults who drink coffee in the U.S. Why do we drink coffee? For most of us it is out of necessity to keep us awake and alert. We drink it on a daily basis and splurge an endless amount of money each year on this beverage. It’s only suitable for us to know what’s in coffee and how it affects us.

Caffeine, as we all know, is the prime ingredient of coffee. It assumes the role of a stimulant and provides a boost in alertness. Caffeine has demonstrated its efficacy whenever we wake up from little sleep, work overnight shifts, or suffer from our post-lunch laziness. There are studies that have shown that coffee does in fact improve performance when it comes to doing tedious, repetitive tasks. Caution must be taken however that too much caffeine can result in a decrease in performance.

In terms of sleep, extra care should be taken if you’re going to consume caffeine. Generally, caffeine can interfere with sleep if drank by occasional drinkers, whose bodies are not accustomed to breaking down caffeine without much expenditure of energy. The stimulant might prove to be a bit too much in this population and can easily keep this group awake. Of course, for regular coffee drinkers, the effects are not as pronounced as their bodies have adapted to absorbing caffeine. No matter how frequent of a drinker you are, some ground rules should be followed for the sake of your sleeping patterns. Firstly, everyone has their limits on how much caffeine they can tolerate without overstimulation taking place. Know your limit and try not to surpass it. Second. It is not a good idea to drink coffee in the evening since you run the risk of going to sleep right around the time the caffeine kicks in.

Despite the negative portrayals of caffeine in regards to our dependence on it,  there are some bright sides to it. Regular coffee drinking can slow down age-related cognitive decline. Along with that, coffee has been shown to ward off the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease by as much as 20 percent. The same correlations apply between the risk of getting Parkinson’s Disease and intake of caffeine consumption. And yes, there are other possible components of caffeine that give it a neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Does this mean it is completely fine to ignore the criticisms of caffeine consumption and go on enjoying that Starbucks latte? Of course not. Moderation is key to anything we do and what benefits we obtain from it. Drinking coffee at responsible intervals and amounts won’t pose significant harm to your body, and at the same time, abstaining from caffeinated beverages altogether is perfectly fine too.

Written by: Ubayed Muhith

HIV, the End is Near

_79427583_c0200994-hiv,_artwork-spl.jpgAfter four years of secretly battling the devastating virus known as HIV, Charlie Sheen has publicly admitted that he is infected with the often fatal disease. The recent public shock brings back daunting memories of a virus that until recent years was subject of controversy. Flash forward to today, in 2015, as possible cures are not out of reach.

HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus is unlike most other viruses the body can fight off. Instead, the virus lives on our body for the remainder of life targeting T cells which are critical in help fighting illnesses as simple as the flu or cold. Overtime, as the immune system is damaged by the virus, HIV becomes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). However, with medication, HIV can be prevented from becoming AIDS. One can become infected with HIV through direct contact with bodily fluids – possibly through sexual contact with an infected person, the sharing of syringes or other exchanges of bodily fluid.

Charlie Sheen isn’t the only public figure who is known to have been diagnosed with the disease. Arthur Ashe, world-renowned tennis player of the 90’s was also diagnosed with the disease after receiving a blood transfusion from a contaminated needle, unfortunately passing shortly after his diagnosis. However, not all diagnoses of HIV result in death or AIDS; Magic Johnson has been living with HIV for 20+ years.

From the past 30 years we have learned a lot about the virus, and stigmas of the disease are no longer valid. According to Global Citizen, the stigma of HIV being a “gay disease” for example, is inaccurate. During the 70’s and 80’s, HIV largely affected men who were gay, however, medical advances found no direct link between homosexuality and the likeliness of acquiring this disease. Additionally, over the years, diagnoses like that of Arthur Ashe and Magic Johnson, a former basketball player, made the global community realize it is more than just a “gay disease”.

Furthermore, the disease is no longer the “death sentence” it was years ago. Medical advancements have found preventative measures one can take to lower the risk of transmission and treatment that stabilizes and someone who has HIV. Efforts to raise awareness for the disease have been impressive in recent years. Both President George Bush and Barack Obama expressed their support for HIV/AIDS awareness and both have taken measures towards taking the first steps in treatment and cure research.

In recent years, conversations about an HIV cure are is becoming reality. Just in 2013, a toddler born with the disease was treated with an antiviral drug that successfully eradicated the disease from the baby who was given the drug just thirty hours after birth according to a report by CNN.  

According to a CBS report, the major challenge of eradicating the disease is finding a cure that, long after treatment, reduces the amount of HIV to an untraceable level. While this treatment still needs work, a relatively new method of curing called “shock” given to the infected individual that “shocks” the virus. In a sense, it removes the virus from the body through shock therapy.

As a global community, we have come a long way towards understanding the disease and finally having a hopeful future for those with the virus.

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Written by: Amina Rana

Social Media Etiquette

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Once students start applying for graduate school, they begin to worry about the content they have shared over social media during their undergraduate career. However, as a freshman with extremely high hopes of getting into medical school, I was advised to embellish a “filter” for my Facebook.

The first question that came to mind when I was warned about this issue was, “should I just delete my Facebook to begin with?” However, I was worried about how I would communicate with my study groups, how to stay up-to-date with the various clubs and how to share necessary data with my classmates. Being involved in studies and the student community are imperative in a student’s application.

However, the pros of having a facebook do not necessarily outweigh the cons. A single inappropriate post and/or picture can negatively alter your application, no matter how hard you worked on making it pristine. So, what is it exactly that you should stay away from doing? Imagine someone, such as a family member, an employer, or even an admissions representative scrolling through your Facebook page: what wouldn’t you want them seeing? Those are the specific things that you should refrain from sharing, posts that would put you in a bad light. It is completely up to you about the image you wish to portray, just remember, everything on social media is open for judgment!

Also be wary of pictures and posts others might tag you in! Imagine this. You spend the weekend at home, studying diligently for the exam that you’ll be taking on Monday. However, your best friend calls, begging you to log onto Facebook and look at a link she sent you. After logging on, you notice that your old friend posted a group picture of you and a few friends from high school at a place you just would not want the admissions committee to see. You have been tagged in this picture for two days now, and you didn’t know about it because you were avoiding all distractions. At this point, anyone could have seen it already! For reasons such as these, you should make sure to never forget to control who can tag you in posts and whether they can be uploaded to your page without your approval.

With this advice stored somewhere in the dusty files of your brain, you should remember to always be cautious with your social media posts, not only on Facebook! They should be filled with meaning, just as your books are with notes.  Even the most responsible of students may slip up on social media networks, however, with just a bit of caution and insight, you too can tackle the graduate school application process without worrying of being denied over something as benign as a single Facebook post!

Make sure to post prudently, and good luck to all! 9i4e7ebkT

Written by: Angelica Rozenfeld

The Museum of Feelings

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Located in Battery City Park, the Museum of Feelings is an interactive exhibit that enables you to connect with all of your senses. As you are waiting to enter the exhibit, the exterior of the museum changes color to represent the mood of New York City, determined by chatter on social media and reports by the local news. You become more in touch with your senses as you move through rooms that are meant to mimic various emotions. Optimism, exhilaration, joy, and serenity all activated by different scents emitted in each room along with altering hues and tones; each room, encouraging you to engage with feelings through sensory stimulation. The unique combination of emotions make the experience truly one of a kind – in one moment, each person feels something different. At the end of the exhibit, you are invited to take a selfie through specialized software called the MoodLens, altering your picture to fit your current mood. It does so by3053990-slide-s-5-indulge-in-your-feels-at-the-museum-of-feelings taking your voice, body movements, pulse rate, social sentiment, and the weather into consideration when determining the overall “feeling” of your selfie and transforms it into a dynamic work of art. Writing about this experience does not do it much justice. Next time you are in desperate need of a study break from finals, stop by the Museum of Feelings, relax on a cloud of lavender in the Calmness Room and return to studying with a refreshed state of mind. It is also free for everyone!

What more can a college student ask for?

Written by: Elina Ashirova

Who am I?

The most simple definition of a nurse, though it is one of the broadest fields of health care, is a person who provides care.  Nursing is an expanding field that is high in demand, as nurses provide holistic care for all types of patients in all types of care settings.

There are LPNs (licensed practical nurse) with one year of training who have passed the NCLEX (Nursing’s MCAT) board exam, RNs (registered nurse) who have graduated from a certified nursing program and passed the NCLEX. Nurses can have Associates Degrees, though currently employers are looking to hire only Bachelor Degree nurses and above. Like doctors, Nurses go on to specialize in several fields with Masters or Doctorate degrees.

The difference between nurse and doctor is the difference between care and cureNursing is a bright and thriving field, but it’s a career where you really need to have compassion and care for others, because you’re constantly in contact with your patients. Nurses heal others not through a cure, but with compassion and humanity – they are the people there after and before the surgery, throughout the entire hospital stay, helping you plan your discharge, answering your family’s worried questions and bringing you comfort when you most need it.

Written by: Amirah

The Road to Dentistry

The dentist’s office is what some people call a torture room, yet what others call their office. There are a lot of stereotypes behind dentistry, and like every career and facet in life, there are pros and cons to each field.

Dentistry is not only the study of the oral cavity and its diseases and treatments; it is also a fantastic career choice. Several of you freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors may be entering the new school year with an open mind (maybe not everyone!) and will strive to be productive. You may also be wondering about what you want to do with your life: where you will see yourself in the next 5, 10, 15 years down the road. A step to take in this pursuit is to identify what your passions, strengths, and even weaknesses are in life, and where you see yourself with those attributes. From thereon out, you can hone your strengths and look for careers that fit you and your lifestyle.

If being dedicated, interested in the sciences, working with your hands, and changing lives sounds like something that is of interest to you then dentistry may be the career for you! If so, consider the testing timeline: many juniors take the DAT (Dental Admissions Test, mandatory to be eligible to apply for admission into a dental school) over the summer before their senior year.

Since we are situated in the state of NY, here are four schools in New York that have a dental school:

1.) New York University
2.) SUNY – Stony Brook University
3.) SUNY – Buffalo
4.) Columbia University


All of these schools have stringent application requirements, with a competitive GPA of at least 3.6 overall, and 3.5 in science. Now, you may be wondering, “not everyone has that GPA! My friend had lower and got into that school.” In fact, every case is different. There are many things to take into consideration when an admissions committee goes over your application file, but believe the emphasis is on the DAT Score and GPA, although extracurriculars, personal Statements, and interviews are still important.

The DAT is a test composed of 6 sections: Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, QR (math), Reading Comprehension, and PAT. Now hold up there, what the heck is a PAT, you may ask? The PAT is the perceptual ability test, and its purpose is to exam your perception skills and spatial acuity. A competitive DAT score, for matriculation, is usually around 20 for both, overall (Academic Average), and science (Total Science). Usually a solid applicant would also have great extracurriculars, something revolving around shadowing a dentist for over 100 hours (personally, I’d recommend 200+, as 100+ has become the norm). I would also suggest volunteering at as many places as you can–nothing will hurt you! You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, a hospital, a dental clinic, physical therapy center, or whatever you may find interesting.

Community service is also important. Working with food banks is a great initiative. Leadership skills are also a huge boost to one’s application. Starting a club, running for a position at a current club, perhaps even a Pre-Dental one can certainly help. Research is always benefice. Albeit some schools might not focus on it much, you never know when it might stand out, and perhaps in an interview you’ll strike a chord and have something to connect to with your interviewer.

Writing a strong personal statement is also essential to a complete application. Revising it will most likely take several weeks, if not months. That is not to say that it takes a long, hard, grueling time to write a P.S., but more so to prove a point that when you write your P.S., you should consider making it the best representation of you, that you can possibly make–and that usually requires a ton of rewrites and revisions!

Finally, there is the interview step before the wonderful & elusive letter of acceptance! Interviewing skills can be improved; all it takes is practice. Meet with an advisor or a good friend, your parent, a sibling or anyone you know, who can be professional and improvise questions for half an hour so you can practice your responses. It is in fact an arduous journey, but a very worthwhile one as well. Dentistry, pound-for-pound, in my opinion, is considered the best healthcare career in the world. Don’t believe me? Have a look yourself: http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/best-healthcare-jobs

My final suggestion is this: it’s extremely difficult to come out swinging and get a 20 flush on the DAT if your performance in undergraduate classes has been lackluster. That’s not to say that a C+ in General Chemistry  ensures you a 17 on the DAT, but in reality, consistent Cs or Bs will show a student who doesn’t have a competency to undergo a rigorous dental curriculum. Getting As in your science, as well as other classes, will show dental schools that you have what it takes to become a Doctor of Dental Surgery. Work hard, never, ever, ever, give up, and grind through it. Whether you’re a step away from dental school or you haven’t even started the process, every journey begins with one step. Like my advisor always tells me, “make sure to smell the roses along the way”!