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Guest bloggers

Katherine Sleeman: Assisted dying is about more than autonomy

1 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

Last month, Jeffrey Spector, a business man from Lancashire, travelled to Switzerland to receive assistance to die. He had been diagnosed six years earlier with an inoperable spinal tumour, which although was unlikely to kill him, would almost certainly have led to progressive paralysis and dependence. His choice, supported by his wife and family, was to die rather than face the prospect of inevitable suffering.

Jeffrey Spector’s death has reignited the debate about legalization of assisted dying. During the last Parliament, Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill progressed further than any previous attempt to change the law, and is tabled for reintroduction on 4 June. The Scottish Parliament may recently have rejected a change in the law, but England and Wales are several steps closer to making assisted dying a reality. more…

Michel Kazatchkine: Tuberculosis and poverty in Europe

29 May, 15 | by BMJ

michel_kazatchkineAfter recently returning from a ministerial conference on tuberculosis (TB) and multi-drug resistant TB held on the initiative of the Latvian Presidency of the European Union, I am encouraged that our political elites are eventually deciding to commit to eradicate—rather than to only “control”—TB, the world biggest killing curable disease.

Tuberculosis has always been a disease of the poor and the vulnerable. more…

Jyoti Shah: How can we address sexism in medicine?

29 May, 15 | by BMJ

jyoti_shahA blog to expose some of the worst examples of sexism in Hollywood has become an enormous hit simply due to the incredible number of contributions; all remaining anonymous because of “fear of retaliation.”

Published on the canvas of the social media platform Tumblr, the blog, “Shit People Say to Women Directors” is taking the film industry by storm and has generated an astonishing amount of social media controversy. It is not just a Hollywood phenomenon. It exists in many areas and most aspects of life.

So is medicine any less sexist? more…

Gillian MacDougall: Why I support a change in the law on assisted suicide

26 May, 15 | by BMJ

I have been a supporter of legalising assisted dying since the late Margo MacDonald first proposed a change of the law in Scotland in 2010. When the revised bill (Assisted Suicide [Scotland] Bill 2013) was launched, I decided it was time to “put my head above the parapet” and become a public supporter. At that time there was a media perception that all doctors were against assisted dying as the BMA had recently voted against it. I coordinated a group of 11 doctors who were willing to sign a supportive letter to The Herald (a national Scottish newspaper with a supportive editorial team). An accompanying article hit the front page, and it was picked up by a number of other papers including The Times. Subsequently, we formed Doctors for Assisted Suicide, which is simply a group of Scottish doctors who are actively in support of a change in the law. The bill will finally be debated on Wednesday 27 May, with the first stage vote scheduled for 5 pm. more…

Neel Sharma: Reforms in medical education—are we missing something?

22 May, 15 | by BMJ

Medical education has seen significant change over the past decade and more. Advances in teaching, learning, and assessment strategies are vast. The didactic lecture form of teaching is no longer the flavour of the month it seems with more and more emphasis on problem and team based learning. Classrooms are seeing the use of mobile devices to allow for rapid learner access to information and instructors are now tasked with the need not to simply disseminate information but to ensure understanding and provide appropriate feedback. Classes are being “flipped” and the MOOC movement has meant that attending face to face teaching is slowly becoming a non-existing entity. more…

Pallavi Bradshaw: Should employers have access to employees medical records?

19 May, 15 | by BMJ

pallavi_bradshawFlying has become an integral part of modern life, whether for pleasure or business. I have never been a nervous flyer although I would be lying if I said that I don’t get a little nervous, like most, when there is unexpected turbulence. For that split second, you worry about engine failure or a terrorist act, but never that the pilot is going to down the plane. The suicide and mass murder by Andreas Lubitz of the Germanwings plane shocked the world and ignited a debate about privacy and medical confidentiality. more…

Neel Sharma: Getting the right medical students comes with time

13 May, 15 | by BMJ

Last month, Richard Schwartzstein authored his perspective on poor communication skills among medical students and beyond (1). I read this with great interest and wanted to share my insights as a doctor in training. In the UK, it was also noted that allegations about doctors’ communication skills had risen by 69 per cent in the last year and complaints about lack of respect by 45 per cent (2). Whilst we may attempt to screen out those poor communicators early on as Richard highlights, I am not sure if this is truly beneficial. more…

Neel Sharma et al: Is wearable technology the next “big thing” in medical education?

6 May, 15 | by BMJ

Sometimes it can seem that technology is rapidly becoming more important than the instructor in medical education particularly with the rise of smart phones, tablets, and high fidelity simulation. Whilst educationalists like ourselves emphasise that the focus is not on the technology itself but rather on the appropriate use of technologies to enhance the teaching and learning experience, it is difficult for this message to be heard when they themselves take precedence in journal publications and conference papers. more…

Paul Auerbach: Continuing the relief effort in Nepal

6 May, 15 | by BMJ

The last few days have been action packed, and my work in Nepal is coming to a close. As an emergency physician, my skills will soon be much less needed than those of orthopedic and plastic surgeons, and primary care and infectious disease specialists. Because of the incredible outpouring of active interest from people who are friends of Nepal, many healthcare professionals have arrived, and more are on the way. The government of Nepal has recommended that all people, particularly those in large groups or teams, wishing to help by coming to Nepal do so under the auspices of government approved organizations. This is important to maintain an effective response and deploy resources where they are most needed. more…

Jocalyn Clark: More on predatory journals—a bad dream turning into a nightmare

5 May, 15 | by BMJ

Jocalyn_Clark1In a sort of karmic backlash, predatory publishers seem to be redoubling their efforts since my last blog on predatory journals to swamp my inbox with pesky emails promising quick publication for hard cash. In the last week alone I’ve (addressed as Dr J or just “Colleague”) been asked to be an honorary speaker (as you probably have, too) at 11 different bogus-sounding international conferences with a promise of related publication, and received countless invitations to submit manuscripts to suspicious looking journals. more…

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