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Julie Browne: Why do some clinical supervisors become bullies?

28 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Julie BrowneThe literature on bullying in the medical workplace makes disturbing reading. In the General Medical Council’s 2013 national training survey, 13.2% of respondents said that they had been victims of bullying and harassment in their posts, nearly one in five had seen someone else being bullied or harassed, and over a quarter had experienced “undermining” (unfair or belittling treatment). more…

Yvonne Obura: Female genital cutting—improving doctors’ awareness

17 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

UK PM David Cameron attends the 'Girl Summit 2014' in London.Female genital cutting (FGC) or mutilation (FGM) is the removal or injury of the external female genitalia for non-medical purposes. It is estimated that 125 million women and girls worldwide are currently living with the effects of FGC, and a further 30 million girls are at risk of being cut within the next decade.

According to a recent study, 137 000 women and girls living in England and Wales have undergone FGC. Since 2008, around 1.5% of all women giving birth in England and Wales had undergone FGC, of which 60% originated from the Horn of Africa. more…

Vinitha Soundararajan and Alisha Patel: Sustainable Healthcare

10 Oct, 14 | by BMJ Group

Vinitha_SoundararajanClimate change, an ageing and growing global population, and depleting planetary resources are well established issues. There is a call for urgent action, especially in healthcare.

The NHS has been scrutinised for being a major contributor to the national carbon footprint. Health services globally need to act more sustainably to maintain the world we live in. Is it too late to act? What can we do about it? more…

Julie Browne: A delicate power balance—teachers and learners in medical education

9 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Julie Browne By the time I taught my first medical students, I was already an experienced schoolteacher and well used to frank, and occasionally uninhibited, feedback on my performance from my young students. There was Elliot, who, if he wasn’t allowed to run about the classroom, could often be found fast asleep under a desk; Izzy, who once threw a chair at me; Alice, who loved storytime so much she invariably ended the session snuggled comfortably on my feet; and Danny, who spat in my handbag but later sent me a Christmas card. more…

Desmond O’Neill: Elective Dreams

19 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

desmond_oneillWith every elective student that joins our unit, I get a vivid flashback of my own electives. No matter how much water has flowed under the bridge since then, something particularly special endures about these less structured educational episodes. Even if undertaken in a local hospital, the elements of summer holiday, change of routine, and freshness suffuse the experience for both student and clinician.

My “formal” electives were a blast. Hamburg in the summer is green, leafy, and sunny—with water a constant presence from the huge harbour to the Alster lakes in the centre of the city. The first summer was spent in a large hospital there, St Georg, whose Wilhelmine ward blocks radiated the spirit of the great German pioneers of 19th century medicine. The second elective was in the racier setting of the small Harbour Hospital beside the red light district of the Reeperbahn, transvestites and sailors prominent among the clientele. more…

Julie Browne: Word counts, words count—how do we want things to be in medical education?

15 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

Julie BrowneI have just come across a neat little web tool from the New York Times. You can type in any word, and see a line graph showing how frequently it’s been used in the New York Times by year right back to 1860. You can also compare several words simultaneously. It’s a fascinating insight into the degree of public debate surrounding news stories in the United States over the last 150 years.

Take, for example, “influenza.” The graph shows a huge rise in mentions during the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918, and more peaks mark the outbreaks of 1957, 1968, and the H5N1 bird flu scare of 2005. Some medical words make a dramatic appearance—like “antibiotic” in the 1940s or “anorexia” in the 1970s—while others disappear entirely, such as “scrofula,” which last showed up in 1899, and “phthisis,” which faded away in 1917. more…

Lavanya Malhotra: Tackling obesity with gold

24 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

Lavanya MalhotraThe Dubai municipality has come up with a novel way to promote a balanced diet and exercise in the city: slim down, and the reward will be worth your weight in gold. Or rather, you will receive 1 g of gold for every kg shed. Earlier this week it was estimated that more than 15 000 people had signed up, with the final numbers expected to be more since registration closed yesterday. Already this is more than the 9666 people who took part in a similar scheme last year.

An initiative like this is especially important in Dubai. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been ranked as the fifth most obese nation in the world, according to a 2012 report published in the BMC Public Health journal. More than 66% of men and 60% of women in the UAE are overweight or obese, according to the Lancet‘s Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. more…

Jack Johnson: My week as a medical journalist

14 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

jack_johnsonI arrived at the offices of The BMJ on Monday 7 July, expecting to spend the day at a desk reading scholarly articles, which I had little chance of making sense of. I am a sixth form student and spent a week at The BMJ on work experience. My previous encounter with work experience was at Dunn’s Bakery in Crouch End, north London, so I was already impressed as I walked through the reception area of BMA House, and through the courtyard with its fountain and gargoyles. The BMJ’s offices are pretty standard, but it was the world of medical journalism that I was plunged into that really surprised and engaged me. more…

Lavanya Malhotra: Sex education in India

9 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

Lavanya MalhotraThe website of India’s health minister, Harsh Vardhan, currently states: “So called ‘sex education’ to be banned. Yoga to be made compulsory.” The media has not been impressed, and controversy rages as health professionals and educators debate the merits of age appropriate sex education in schools.

Vardhan has since retracted his original statement, saying: “Crudity and graphic representation of culturally objectionable symbols as manifested in the UPA’s [United Progressive Alliance, a coalition of political parties which governed India for the past 10 years] so called sex education programme cannot be called sex education. Every education system must strive to have an ideal curriculum, and to that extent my stand is valid. Sex education builds societies free of gender discrimination, teenage pregnancy, HIV-AIDS proliferation, pornography addiction.” more…

Rhys Davies: Ode to a stethoscope

11 Jun, 14 | by BMJ

A recent article in The BMJ wondered whether portable ultrasound scanners might soon replace the trusty stethoscope. These ultrasounds are easy to use, sexy, cheap at only £5000(!), and lead to greater confidence at the examination couch. But forgive me if I’m not ready to swap my stethoscope for a tricorder just yet.

The invention of the stethoscope is credited to René Laennec, a particularly tuberculous Frenchman in the early 19th century. Worried by his own infectiousness, and the sensitivities of his patients, he created a stiff hollow tube to convey auscultated sounds from the patient’s chest to his ear. The bi-auricular rubber piping incarnation, to be worn with pride around the necks of generations of doctors and medical students, came later. more…

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