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Sanna W Khawaja: At a crossroads in medical training

17 Mar, 15 | by BMJ

sanna_khawajaI am in the recruitment stage between interviews and offers. At this moment in time, when I look to August I can see myself as both in training and not in training. I can see myself as employed and as unemployed. Perhaps it is the task of ranking potential future jobs, or the desire to avoid this task, that has me thinking very seriously about my future as a doctor in the NHS.

When I took a year out after foundation training, it had been for a number of reasons. Yes, part of it was the desire to gain more experience, to travel, to work abroad, and to finally pick a specialty to commit to. But perhaps, more importantly, it was a chance to step off of the conveyor belt of medical training and re-examine my choices so far. more…

Aditya J Nanavati: Are Indian medical students pessimistic about participating in research?

7 Jan, 15 | by BMJ

Aditya J NanavatiI recently completed my residency in general surgery. Towards the end of my residency, I was introduced to the world of research and publishing. Far from knowing it all, the more I explore this world, the more I realize that I should have been introduced to it much earlier.

I believe I speak for the average medical student in India when I say that the world of research publishing is something that we are overawed by. It is assumed that only great physicians can participate in and publish their research. I can say with sufficient confidence that rarely will you meet medical students who imagine they can do the same someday. It is looked upon as an elite club where entry is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Why is this so? more…

Samir Dawlatly: Would I make it through medical school these days?

18 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

I specialised at being a university student. I didn’t graduate from medical school until I was 30, for a variety of reasons, despite the fact that I first set foot in the hallowed halls at the age of 19. Only one of those years was spent recovering from illness. Aside from giving me the chance to grow up, meet my future wife, and learn how to be a junior doctor, it also gave me the opportunity to make lots of mistakes. more…

Sanna W Khawaja: An NHS full of secret agents

2 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

sanna_khawajaWhile I enjoy the occasional spy movie, I always find myself irritated at the protagonist, who very often spends the film focused on a mission with little or no knowledge of the “bigger picture.” Quite often he or she knows little about the organisation they work for, and, at times, they even accidentally end up in a gun fight with their own colleagues.

I was mid-rant about these “secret agents” when it recently dawned on me that I too have been trained like a secret agent (albeit without the martial arts). more…

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…

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