Improving medical students

Archive for January, 2008

5 tips for Better Email

Posted by medliorator on January 30, 2008

  • Use subject-line protocols to speed communication:
    • a.) No reply needed – NRN
    • b.) Thank you – TY
    • c.) Need response by date and time – NRB 10/30 3:00 pm
    • d.) Use subject line for whole message: Meet 10:00 10/30 Okay? END
  • Keep e-mails short. Most should be no more than 1-10 sentences. Communicate your main point in the first sentence or two. Don’t make readers work because you don’t have time to focus.
  • Don’t deliver bad news in an e-mail message.
  • After two rounds of problem-solving on e-mail, pick up the phone.
  • If you can deal with it in 2 minutes, do it.

5 Transformative email tips [GTDA]

Posted in E-mail | 1 Comment »

Reading Better, Retaining More

Posted by medliorator on January 29, 2008

  1. Read with a purpose: Beyond “the teacher said so” there is always a reason why you are reading something. Are you reading it to understand an argument? Learn facts? Background material? Whatever the reason you were assigned that piece of reading, focus on it as you read. If you aren’t clear on what you are trying to get out of the material, ask the teacher before you read. Write the purpose at the top of a piece of paper and have it right there.
  2. Read with paper and pen: As you read, take notes. Keep looking at your purpose and write to answer the question or support what you are doing. If done well you will be able to get everything you need to study for an exam from your notes. (I do advise doing this by hand, since the act of writing often helps people remember things while the act of typing isn’t wired in the same way. However if you prefer to do this electronically, go ahead. )
  3. Notes should be brief: You are not rewriting the piece. Think in terms of bullet points or outlines. Short sentences, indentations, and lists will help you remember what you read AND make sense of it later.
  4. Leave white space around your notes: When you go to class you are going to take these notes with you and use the discussion in class to fill in any blanks. Because of that you want to have space to add things, draw connections that you may not have made before, and clarify things. Remember, the goal is to not have to go back to the base reading later, so these notes should be good.

4 tips for reading better and retaining more [Gearfire]

Posted in Study Tips | Comments Off on Reading Better, Retaining More

How to Stay Awake in Lecture

Posted by medliorator on January 28, 2008

  • bring coffee, discreet snacks, and gum
  • Even if you are not a note taker, start writing down everything the teacher is saying to keep your mind alert.
  • Move as much as you can. Tap your foot or bounce your leg. Switch position in your chair frequently. Stretch. Move your head. Tap your fingers
  • Pain. This is kind of an emergency procedure. If you can’t stay awake consider pinching yourself
  • Stimulating Thoughts: think of something that makes you happy or makes you feel good. I’ll leave it at that
  • Online activity: this wasn’t around when I was in college, but I would imagine if you’re in the back of the class you could surf the web, email your friends, and read Dumb Little Man
  • Entertain Yourself: see if you can summon your extrasensory powers by willing someone to look at you. Or try across the room flirting. Why not?

Don’t do these things

  • Rest your head in your hand
  • close your eyes
  • Lay your head down

How to Stay Awake at Work or School [Dumb Little Man]

Posted in How-To | Comments Off on How to Stay Awake in Lecture

25 Essential Keyboard Shortcuts – Microsoft Word

Posted by medliorator on January 27, 2008


  • Ctrl+[ – Decrement Font Size
  • Ctrl+] – Increment Font Size
  • Ctrl+= – Subscript
  • Ctrl++ – Superscript
  • Ctrl+I – Italic
  • Ctrl+B – Bold
  • Ctrl+U – Underline
  • Ctrl+Shift+D – Double Underline Text
  • Ctrl+Shift+W – Underline Words but not Spaces
  • Shift+F3 – Change case


  • Ctrl+E – Center
  • Ctrl+J – Justify
  • Ctrl+L – Left-align
  • Ctrl+R – Right Align
  • Ctrl+1 – Single space lines
  • Ctrl+5 – Set 1.5 line spacing
  • Ctrl+2 – Double space lines
  • Shift+Enter – Insert line break
  • Ctrl+Enter – Insert page break
  • Ctrl+Shift+L – Start a Bulleted List


  • Ctrl+X – Cut
  • Ctrl+C – Copy
  • Ctrl+V – Paster
  • Ctrl+Z – Undo the last action
  • Ctrl+Y – Redo

Correlate: 5 Essential Keyboard Shortcuts (XP)
Correlate: Firefox Tricks

Posted in Software, Tools | 1 Comment »

Free Online Biotech Books

Posted by medliorator on January 26, 2008

The Bookshelf is a growing collection of biomedical books that can be searched directly

Bookshelf [National Center for Biotechnology Information]

Posted in Tools | Comments Off on Free Online Biotech Books

The Future of X-Ray – Dark Field X-Rays

Posted by medliorator on January 25, 2008

A set of simple silicon filters could dramatically improve the quality of X-ray images produced in hospitals and at airport checkpoints.


X-ray images normally reveal the way different materials, including body tissue, absorb X-ray radiation. finer details are often lost in a fog caused by areas with intermediate radiation-absorbing ability.


researchers led by Franz Pfeiffer of the Paul Scherrer Institute, in Villigen, Switzerland, and including colleagues at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, have figured out a way to produce much clearer snapshots for little extra cost. The team adapted a technique known as dark-field microscopy, which is normally used by biologists to get a clearer view of cells under a light microscope.


Dark-field microscopy improves the contrast of an image by using only scattered light. Pfeiffer and colleagues have shown that the same principle can be applied to X-ray images. This is done by ignoring conventional X-rays passing through an object and only collecting those that scatter off it instead. The team has developed a set of silicon filters that make this possible: radiation that passes straight through an object can be ignored, and rays bent through a tiny angle, as a result of scattering, are collected.


The process involves taking four separate images, each with the three filters in a slightly different arrangement. Software then compares each snapshot to produce a final high-contrast picture. Although the process means exposing the subject to a higher total dose of radiation, Pfeiffer says this can be justified in some circumstances.


The resulting images reveal physical details that would normally be invisible. For example, since soft tissue and bone differ strongly in their ability to scatter X-ray, the dark-field technique could help a doctor spot small splinters of bone or cartilage after a bad fracture.


The technique is not yet ready for deployment in hospitals as it only works with relatively low-intensity X-rays. However it could be used for some clinical investigations like mammography and Pfeiffer’s team is working on making it suitable for more powerful X-ray machines. They plan to test it on live animals within the next 12 months.

‘Dark field’ X-rays reveal bodies in new detail [NewScientist]

Posted in News, Radiology | Comments Off on The Future of X-Ray – Dark Field X-Rays

Boost Brainpower with Almonds

Posted by medliorator on January 24, 2008

[Almonds] help boost your brainpower, stabilize your mood and even relieve the aging process.


The almond contains phenylalanine, this is little chemical is shown to work in conjunction with our cognitive processes and supports healthy neurological function. [Phenylalanine] easily passes through our blood-brain barrier and makes our brain produce our natural mood stabilizing hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine. These same hormones also help reduce pain in the body. While studies are still on going, it is believed that almonds may also help treat some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.


L-carnitine [also found in almonds] is important for the brain because it helps make it possible for our brain to metabolize acetyl-L-carnitinetransferase which supports choline metabolism. Our brain utilizes choline to prevent any neuronal degeneration. The L-carnitine that is found in almonds and other nuts also helps in the release of acetylcholine, which is essential for good memory.


Studies show that by adding almonds to your diet can help with satiety and prevent weight gain. Purdue University researchers have found that two servings a day did not cause weight gain or decrease our body’s efficiency.


The almond can do wonders for your heart health as well. Almonds have been shown to lower LDL.


eating to many nuts can lead to problems such as obesity. But incorporating a handful of almonds a day into your diet can prove to be beneficial to healthy mind function.

How to Use Almonds to Increase Brainpower [Wellness Junction]

Posted in Wellness & Health | 1 Comment »

How to Time Purchases

Posted by medliorator on January 23, 2008

Months of the year:
there are months when merchandise is generally cheaper.

January: Bedding, TV sets, Winter clothing, Toys
February: Furniture, Workout equipment, Small electronics
March: Winter Coats, Humidifiers, Space heaters
April: Computer gear, Spring Clothing, Luggage
May: Athletic apparel and shoes, Barbecue and picnic foods
June: Hardware and home fix-it tools and materials, Summer clothing and swimwear
July: Air conditioners (through September), Major appliances, Outdoor Furniture
August: Bedding, School supplies, Camping Equipment, Dehumidifiers
September: Scooters and bikes, Gardening supplies, BBQ gear
October: Candy, Outdoor Sports gear and equipment
November: Autos, Bikes, Computers, Blankets/Comforters
December: Autos, Toys, TV sets, Thanksgiving food (to be frozen)

General Budget Buying [Frugal for Life]

Days of the week:

Kelli Grant, from claims that Thursday, before 10 A.M. is the best time to purchase gas. Why? weekend demand is high, says Jason Toews, co-founder of Prices usually swing upward on Thursdays as travelers fuel up to head out the following day. By hitting the pump before 10 a.m. (when many station owners change their prices), you’ll beat the rush and the price jump.

Also, cooler temperatures result in denser fuel whereas afternoon/evening gas has expanded after an all-day bake.

via The Cheapest Time To Buy Merchandise [Hack College]

Posted in Finance | Comments Off on How to Time Purchases

Study Tips: USMLE Step 3

Posted by medliorator on January 22, 2008

Since the actual score is not important, all you have to do is pass Step 3. Steps 1 and 2 can influence your residency options but Step 3? Nobody cares so I don’t want to overhype it. Odds are you will pass if you are a graduate of an American (or Canadian, also 96 percent) medical school. If you’re worried, remember that primary care is big on the test. Imagine what you need to know in Family Practice (and it wouldn’t surprise me if Family Practice residents do the best on it) and study accordingly. Ultra-specialized knowledge? Not required. I think you might have a little trouble taking it right out of medical school but if you have done a few “acting intern” rotations probably not.


If you must study, this is one of the few times I would recommend a “trivia-based” review book like First Aid, especially if you are taking Step 3 late in your training in some non-primary care specialty. By show of hands, how many of you surgery residents know (or care) what to do with an abnormal pap smear? Maybe you might want to brush up on things like this. I know you neither have the free time to study like you did for Step 1 or would use it for that purpose even if you did.

Pandarandom: Brief Thoughts [Panda Bear MD]

Posted in Study Tips, USMLE | Comments Off on Study Tips: USMLE Step 3

How to Handle Sexual Harassment

Posted by medliorator on January 21, 2008

If you’re the victim of sexual harassment while on rotations as a student or resident, here’s what I think you should not do:

  • Don’t bring up any complaints to junior staff. They’ll most likely side with their superior and probably don’t want to get involved with it anyway.
  • Don’t mention the offense to the perpetrator. The offender knows that he or she is doing wrong and will blatantly deny that any offense ever took place.
  • Do not take your complaint to the Dean of Medicine, or anybody else in the administration that is linked to the practice of clinical medicine or rotations at your institution. As explained earlier, they’ll do all they can to protect the school and program. You are not in their best interest.
  • Do not wait until your grade is released to file a complaint. This could backfire on you.
  • Do not threaten the perpetrator that you will turn them in. Let them think that all is harmless.

OK, so what should you do if you’re a victim of sexual harassment on rotations?

  • Contact a lawyer for advice. Preferably get one that specializes in workplace sexual harassment abuse.
  • Contact your hospital’s legal department and risk management informing them that you have been a victim of sexual harassment. Let them know you have already talked to your lawyer, which should expedite getting your appointment scheduled.
  • Set up an appointment to talk to risk management about the incident and make sure that your lawyer accompanies you to the meeting.

Sexual Harassment In Medical School [Med School Hell]

Posted in Clinical Rotations, How-To | Comments Off on How to Handle Sexual Harassment