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Anant Bhan: Gender gap in medical education leadership in India

31 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

anant_bhanThere is a rising welcome trend of women joining medical colleges in India, with female students being comparable in number or even outnumbering male students in many colleges. This trend is much more prominent in neighbouring Pakistan, with estimates that 80-85% of current medical students are women.

Women in medicine in India now follow a long tradition—Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi was the first south Asian woman graduate in allopathic medicine in 1886, receiving an MD from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, USA. Kadambini Ganguly was the first female South Asian physician trained in allopathic medicine to graduate in south Asia—she graduated from Bengal Medical College in 1886 (the same year as Joshi graduated). The Lady Hardinge Medical College, which solely takes women for their undergraduate medical course (MBBS) was established in 1916 and is currently celebrating its centenary year. There are other medical colleges solely training women undergraduate medical students—such as the Dr VRK Women’s Medical College, Aziznagar, and the BPS Government Medical College for Women, Sonepat.

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Jeffrey Aronson: When I Use a Word … Backslang

31 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

jeffrey_aronson

Back-formation , forming words by shortening other words, should not be confused with backslang, the formation of words, not by breaking them up, but simply by reversing them.

A yob is a [backward] unruly boy. Naff, as in “naff off”, may be from fanny, the back or front version, but could just be a variant of eff [off]. Similarly, nock, now obsolete, may be backslang for con (also back or front); when her maid translated the French word “la robe”, as “cown”, it shocked the French princess Catherine in Henry V (3.4), as a word “non pour les dames d’honneur d’user”; this is not far removed from Hamlet’s “country matters”. Other backslangs have not survived. They include slops, a contracted form of ecilop (police), and ynnep or yannep (a penny), which should not be confused with pennif, which is backslang for finnip, a five-pound note (from the Yiddish pronunciation of the German word fünf).

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The BMJ Today: Your summer reading medical thriller is here

31 Jul, 15 | by BMJ Group

The case of nutrition researcher Ranjit Kumar Chandra has attracted a news item and a blog. As Owen Dyer reports, Chandra has lost his bid to win damages from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for a documentary it broadcast in 2006 which claimed that he never conducted a raft of published studies claiming the benefits of baby formula and vitamin pills in the elderly. more…

David McCoy: Divestment is no grand gesture

30 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

david_mccoy According to Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust, the Guardian’s “Keep in the Ground” campaign to promote divestment from fossil fuel companies is merely a “grand gesture” that can be made only once.

At one level, he is right. The financial impact of the Wellcome Trust selling off its shares in fossil fuel companies would be negligible. But as a social and political gesture, the impact would be huge. The Wellcome Trust a prestigious and highly respected scientific and charitable organisation. It works to improve health and serve humanity. Its voice carries weight and through divestment, it would be sending a strong signal to governments and the general public that continued investment in fossil fuel companies is simply not compatible with the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Richard Smith: Science and journalism threatened in the high court

30 Jul, 15 | by BMJ Group

richard_smith_2014I wrote this piece some six weeks ago after giving evidence in a libel case reported by The BMJ and published on 30 July 2015 . I’ve had to wait until the case was over to post the blog.

I’ve just finished giving evidence for a day and a half in the high court in Toronto. I enjoyed the experience, despite being cross examined for five hours. Fulfilling his duty, the barrister tried to discredit me and my evidence. I don’t think he succeeded, but it’s for the jury not me to decide. It’s a 15 year story that led to me being in court, and I want to share that story, describe my experience in court, and reflect on important implications for science and medicine. more…

The BMJ Today: Taxing sugar doesn’t have to be taxing

30 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

 

  • sugar_taxIncreasing evidence suggests that taxes on soft drinks, sugar, and snacks can change diets and improve health, Sirpa Sarlio-Lähteenkorva argues in The BMJ today. Arguing in favour of a sugar tax,  Sarlio-Lähteenkorva says that a tax of about €1 (£0.70; $1.10) on a kilogram of sugar would “substantially reduce demand for sugar and sweets and bakery products, with a slight increase in demand for meat.” She said this sugar tax would reduce body weight by an average 3.2 kg and the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 13%.

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Artaza Gilani: Pointing fingers: The blame game

30 Jul, 15 | by BMJ Group

Doctors are not infallible; they are human and make mistakes. Occasionally, they know of their mistakes; sometimes, others are aware, while they remain oblivious and other times still, nobody knows that a mistake has occurred. With so many things happening without a clinician’s knowledge, it is not a question of “if”, but “when”, they will find themselves having made a mistake and when they are hit with the realisation of it having occurred, their hearts usually sink. more…

Deepak Balak and Enes Hajdarbegovic: Towards harmonisation of referencing styles

29 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

Deepak Balak“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton’s famous quote accurately captures that what is pivotal in science: moving forward by building on work done previously. In terms of scientific writing, proper citing of other works is important in any research article.

During our PhD programme we have encountered a practical problem with referencing that many young scientists worldwide may recognise: managing the vast diversity of referencing styles across different journals. Besides the typical division into Vancouver or Harvard referencing, there are variations in citation and ordering of the reference list, in format and layout of the references, and so on. Those who have ever submitted a manuscript will know that formatting of the references according to the specific requirements of the journal is laborious. Even with the help of Reference Manager software, the task of editing references can be quite challenging, be it for a first submission or for a sequential submission to a different journal.Enes Hajdarbegovic

The variation in reference styles does not seem functional at all. In the era of initiatives of reporting guidelines such as CONSORT, PRISMA, and STROBE, it leaves us  to wonder why no one has tackled the issue of the variety in referencing styles. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has recommendations for the style and format of references, but most journals still adhere to their own reference styles.
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The BMJ Today: Handwashing, Medicare, and radiology shortages

29 Jul, 15 | by BMJ Group

A severe lack of specialist radiology training is failing children in the UK, an audit by the Royal College of Radiologists has found. The audit, undertaken in July this year, discovered that 35% of children’s radiographs and scans were performed by radiographers who had not received specific training in imaging children and that a similar percentage of scans were interpreted by radiologists with less than six months’ training in a specialist paediatric centre.

The president of the RCR, Giles Maskell, has said that “these findings are deeply concerning” and that “if missed or mistaken diagnoses are to be avoided, it is essential that all hospitals taking x rays and scans of children can access a specialist’s opinion as and when they need it.” more…

Kiran Thapa: Blossoming health services research in Nepal—what are the challenges?

29 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

kiran_thapaI recently did a PubMed search for Nepal, and I found thousands of articles that had been published in different journals across the world. This was a happy moment for me. I carried on searching and found that thousands of articles had been published over recent decades. I pondered for a while, thinking about how health services research has been burgeoning over time in developing countries like Nepal. I feel that it is a matter of international prestige and recognition. I asked myself “Why is health services research growing more than ever? Does more research mean more development? What challenges is Nepal facing to extend health services research?
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