Featured

Holly Pittard (4 Posts)

Contributing Writer and Medical Student Editor

East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine


Holly Pittard is a second year medical student at the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, North Carolina. In 2016, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology with minors in chemistry and anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her free time, Holly enjoys playing soccer and visiting waterfalls. After medical school, Holly would like to pursue a career in PM&R or family medicine.




“Sex” — A Word With a Legal Definition That Could Change Medicine

On June 12, the Trump administration issued a Department of Health and Human Services rule that eliminated the protections transgender patients had under the Obama administration from discrimination by doctors, health care providers and hospitals. A few days later, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Bostock v Clayton County, which stated that LGBTQ individuals could not be discriminated against in the workplace.

Medical Students Do Not Owe You Their Trauma

Interviewers who ask these questions in a professional setting typically consider these issues to be academic — purely topics for discussion that might provide useful insight into the way the applicant views the world. But for applicants who have been affected, these issues are not merely academic and their discussion can invoke significant emotional turmoil. So before we continue to tacitly accept this shift in interviewing, it is important to consider its purpose and impact on those being interviewed.

Yes, Doctor

Two years of intense studying should have culminated in a feeling of strength. I ended my second year of medical school thinking I was now prepared to do anything. I was excited to be a problem-solver, armed with the mental acuity to recognize diseases from A to Z, ready to proceed with the next step in my clinical training. Now, in my third year, it is finally time to act like a real doctor. But our superiors treat us like their personal assistants.

It’s Time to Find a Better Way to Test Soon-To-Be Doctors

In a typical year, medical students have to pass this one final patient actor bonanza before they can become doctors. Like all other USMLE exams, Step 2 CS is eight hours long. However, this is the only Step exam that isn’t administered on a computer; rather, it’s offered at just five centers in the country, located in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, and Los Angeles.

Up The Cross: The Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre

In collaboration with the Australian-American Fulbright Program, I spent 2019-2020 examining the treatment of substance use disorders in Australia through the lens of animation. As part of this project, I created a pair of educational animations focusing on the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in Sydney’s Kings Cross. This series, entitled Up the Cross: The Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, examines the founding, protocols and benefits of the MSIC, which was established in 2001.

Ashten Duncan, MPH, CPH Ashten Duncan, MPH, CPH (10 Posts)

Columnist, Medical Student Editor and Former Managing Editor (2017-2018)

OU-TU School of Community Medicine


Ashten Duncan is a third-year medical student at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A 2018-2019 Albert Schweitzer Fellow, he recently received his Master of Public Health (MPH) with an interdisciplinary focus from the University of Oklahoma Hudson College of Public Health. Ashten attended the University of Oklahoma for his undergraduate program, completing a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Microbiology and minors in Chemistry and French. An aspiring family physician, Ashten is currently on a National Health Service Corps scholarship. His research interests include hope theory, burnout in medical education, and positive psychology in vulnerable populations. Ashten is passionate about creative writing and what it represents. He has written pieces that have been published on KevinMD.com and in-Training.org and in Blood and Thunder and The Practical Playbook. Ashten is currently serving as Associate Author for the upcoming edition of First Aid for the USMLE Step 1.

The Lived Experience

As medical students, we sometimes lose sight of our purpose for going into medicine and feel that we are exerting ourselves excessively with little feedback from our environment. It is important that we remember that, while we are living through the experiences that come with our training, our future patients are also living through their own experiences. The focus of this column is to examine topics in positive psychology, lifestyle medicine, public health and other areas and reflect on how these topics relate to medical students, physicians and patients alike.