In this episode, Peter and I put together the culmination of our first season of podcasting. We took lessons from leaders in medicine, business and the military to bring you five rules for leadership.
This feeling of loss and subsequent reflection revealed to me something fundamental about how I experience time in my own life. As I depart the anatomy lab, I stand on the shores of time’s river and gaze into the clear water’s surface. In it, I see a reflection of growth and of internal transformation — a reflection not of who I was but of who I have become. I emerge not only learned in anatomy but also with insight into the impact that individuals can have on one another.
On the first day of anatomy, we were reminded that this course was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and that we were privileged to be experiencing it. For those of us first-year medical students who might not pursue surgery nor experience physically interacting with and entering the human body again outside of surgical clerkships, the professors said this would be an intense time. We would peer into the spaces and structures that — on some level — make up every human being.
I was patiently sitting in the lobby at Quest Diagnostics, waiting for the staff to slowly let people inside in adherence with the new social distancing guidelines. I waited for about ten minutes before a man in his mid-50s called my name and led me into a patient room.
In this episode, we interview Dr. Edward Barksdale. He is the newly elected American Pediatric Surgery Association president. He is also the division chief of pediatric general surgery and thoracic surgery at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
The Iranian Consultative Assembly, the equivalent of a parliament, legalized living non-related donations in 1988 and set up a new government-run transplant matching system. Within this novel framework, living donors could choose to have their organs typed and registered in advance. If they are needed, a third-party independent organization, the Dialysis and Transplant Patients Association (DTPA), would set up contact between the donors and recipients. The donors would be compensated by a payment from the government, free health insurance, and sometimes additional payment from the recipient. The payment from the government is said to be in the range of $2,000-$4,000.
I am sitting in school / but I am also thinking of you. / Yes, I do / wonder how consciousness / wraps round and round / this hunk of meat, / how chunks of flesh / sustain your metaphysical feat.
I no longer feel alone the way that I did the first few weeks of dissections, because now I recognize that my peers were sectioned off at their tables also worried that they were losing their sensitivity, that they weren’t good enough to belong, and they didn’t know how to cut into a person. I wish that I had known what my classmates were thinking and feeling during the anatomy course.
To understand the issue surrounding assessments, we must understand that it has become increasingly challenging to train physicians suited to face contemporary changes. To future physicians who have access to a repository of ever-expanding information on their smartphones, being tested on ‘high-yield’ minutia serves little purpose. Being able to think critically (and perhaps even imaginatively) in order to make sense of that information for patient care is what counts. And thus, no matter how standardized an examination is, lack of contextual reference renders it futile.
In this episode we interview Dr. Ijeoma Nnodim Opara. Dr. Opara received her medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine (WSUSOM) and completed a med-peds residency at the Detroit Medical Center where she served as chief medical resident. Currently, she is a double-board certified and an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics.
Why would someone choose to donate their body to medical education? We have a dishonorable history in medicine of illicitly sourcing cadavers for dissection: robbing corpses from graves, murdering people for their bodies and salvaging the unclaimed dead from city hospitals and morgues. Today, we call the bodies we learn from “donors” instead of “cadavers” to honor their autonomy and personhood, their choice to be in the room.
As physicians, we must work to lift patients up when they are struggling, rather than shaming them into well-being. As Dr. Donald Berwick once noted, it is not always patients’ diagnoses, but their helplessness that kills them. Indeed, the helplessness we instill through our focus on individualism and molecular pathology in the clinical setting will ensure that this epidemic kills millions prematurely and costs billions of dollars. If obesity is a disease caused by society — its inequities, trauma, and expectations — then the solution for obesity should address more than just the patient sitting in front of us.