Dr. Mamdouh Aker: Palestinian doctor and human rights activist (Bonus Episode)

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Mamdouh Aker

Dr. Mamdouh Aker is a very big deal in Palestine, the kind of man everyone knows and respects, and it’s easy to see why.  He’s urology surgeon and the deputy chair of the Board of Trustees of Berzeit University in Palestine’s West Bank.  Among the founders of the Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners and the Independent Commission for Human Rights, Dr. Aker was also  a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference and in the Palestinian-Israeli bilateral talks between 1991 and 1993. He’s also a member of several councils and committees focused on the health, education, and wellbeing of the Palestinian people.  During his visit to the Carver College of Medicine he spoke to our students and faculty about the state of Palestinian healthcare. He was generous with his time, as he also sat down with med students Shakoora Sabree, Ossama Habu-Halawa, Jordan Harbaugh-Williams, and Joelle Friezen to discuss the topic. Our discussion was near the anniversary of his 45-day ordeal in the custody of Israeli security forces in the early 1990s because of his outspoken views that his Palestinian patients were prevented from receiving adequate healthcare.


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To this day, What are reactions to Dr. Aker’s stories? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  Do all three!

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Lack of Empathy: A Med School Dealbreaker?

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Everyone knows: doctors have to have empathy…right?

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Photo by Pierre Phaneuf

Listener Mo wrote to us at theshortcoats@gmail.com to ask us if a lack of interest in dealing with the foibles of patients–with their anti-vaccine beliefs, their non-compliance with treatment, and reliance on the latest internet fads–means he should reconsider his med school dreams.  Lucky for Mo, Kaci McCleary, Irisa Mahaparn, and newbs Melissa Chan and Dabin Choi were on hand to propose some paths forward for non-empathetic med school applicants, as well as outlining some of the less obvious areas empathy comes in handy they might want to think about.  There isn’t a lot of wiggle room in this area…but there’s a little, and maybe Mo can squeeze into those cracks and come out with an MD on the other side.

This Week in Medical News

Is the ubiquity of IV saline an example of institutional inertia?  And in response to this article, the gang explores the institutional and systemic barriers that AMCAS and some schools’ admissions committees have erected against disadvantaged students.

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Are you a disadvantaged applicant worried about your grades, money, and connections? Tell us your story at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.

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Normalizing Human Behavior, Transvaginal Speakers, and Deflating Outsized Egos

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Photo by Bexx Brown-Spinelli

John Pienta, Cole Cheney, Amy Young, and newbie Rob Humble join Dave to discuss the recent winter break, the Rose Bowl, and Stanford’s half-time band performance.  We discuss doctors who are non-compliant with their own recommendations for patients.  Is that something they should be condemned for, or is it human nature?  And when patients are non-compliant or engage in risky behavior, should docs acknowledge that as normal human behavior and avoid shaming them for it? Continue reading Normalizing Human Behavior, Transvaginal Speakers, and Deflating Outsized Egos

Choosing Your Clinical Education: Community Hospital or Academic Medical Center?

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On this episode, M2s Nathen Spitz and Sahaana Arumugam, M3 Emma Barr, and MD/PhD student Aline Sandouk reminisce about simpler Halloween times, when the only thing to worry about was whether your costume was going to be on the sexy branch or the non-sexy branch of the decision tree. Emma gives us her thoughts on why it was a good idea to do her ‘core’ clinical clerkships (like Internal Medicine, Psych, and Peds) at community hospitals in Des Moines instead of at our academic medical center closer to home.

It’s time to vote in the US, and we reflect on why students absolutely must not ignore politics, and just how easy it is to get involved.

And, anticipating his friends’ need to one day be decision makers in medicine (and perhaps politicians?) Dave forces them to fight to the figurative death.

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How’d we do on this week’s show? Did we miss anything in our conversation? Did we anger you? Did we make you smile? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime  or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  It’s always a pleasure to hear from you!

Invent the Future of Medicine, ft. Matthew Howard, MD

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See a problem, solve a problem

Matthew Howard, MD. Professor, Department of Neurosurgery Chair and DEO, John C. VanGilder Chair in Neurosurgery

Think of an inventor.  What comes to mind?  The quirky lone genius, coming up with a blockbuster device that will save the world?  The Avengers‘ Tony Stark in a cave throwing together a functional exosuit from scrap metal?  Back to the Future’s Doc Emmet Brown crying “1.21 jigawatts?!” and then immediately coming up with the perfect solution?

Or is it a person like neurosurgeon Matthew Howard, toiling away year after year alongside a team of trusted experts, all working together to take an idea–slowly–from problem to concept to prototypes to product to FDA approval to market to patient?  Dr. Howard was recently named the University of Iowa’s first ever National Academy of Inventors fellow, with 34 patents in his portfolio, so we wanted to take a look at yet another amazing aspect of medicine: the people who define and then create solutions that make the surgical world go ’round.  Some of his inventions succeed–including a way to guide catheters to their destinations using magnetic fields–while others –like the “shunt scissors” he discusses–are waiting to set the surgical world on fire. But to Dr. Howard it’s just a good time.

Also, Dave gives the crew–Aline Sandouk, Miranda Schene, Hannah Van Ert, and Maddie Mix–a pop quiz to see if they can guess the invention from some weird patents.  Some of the quiz’s incorrect answers could be money makers, so feel free to patent them and make a fortune.


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You care about others, or you wouldn’t be into this medicine thing. Our #merchforgood program lets you to give to our charity of the semester and get something for yourself at the same time!

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Have you ever had an idea for something and thought, I should patent that?  Like that time Dave thought up an ejection seat for motorcycles? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com and tell us about it.

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Second Looks and Fantasy Gap Years

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https://www.sketchport.com/drawing/4699265771241472/take-a-look

As CCOM’s second-look day (which we call Get Acquainted Day) approaches,  Aline Sandouk, LJ Agostinelli, Miranda Schene, and Danial Syed discuss the benefits–to both the student and the school–of taking a second look at the schools they’ve been admitted to.  And listener Caven wants us to talk about our fantasy gap years.  Can our co-hosts articulate the benefits of gap year jobs that Dave made up for them?  Spoiler–they sure can.


Buy Our Merch and Give At The Same Time

You care about others, or you wouldn’t be into this medicine thing. Our #merchforgood program lets you to give to our charity of the semester and get something for yourself at the same time!

This Week in Medical News

UC Berkeley biologists have found a way to genetically engineer brewers yeast so that they pump out dank medicines.  Texas Republican state representative Bill Zedler has some pointless thoughts about why vaccines aren’t needed in the US.  And we discuss what Click and Clack, The Tappet Brothers have to offer med students.

We Want to Hear From You

If you could do anything you want–and you can–what would you do during your gap year? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  Do all three!

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Hotel Influenza, Confirming Right-to-Try Problems, REM Sleep Revealed

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Photo by Mark Turnauckas

We love when listeners get in touch, which is why Dave was glad to hear from Adil who, after listening to our discussion of the new national Right-To-Try legislation, sent us a paper he wrote on the subject the year before.  It really helped clear some things up that we weren’t sure of.  Like the fact that it doesn’t actually do anything to help patients get faster access to experimental drugs, has a kind of informed consent problem, allows patients to further conflate research with therapy, and more.

And with thousands of new medical students poised to matriculate this fall, Dave and co-hosts Aline Sandouk, Kylie Miller, and Amy Hanson try out a new awkward icebreaker activity to see if it has some utility for new student orientations.

This Week in Medical News

The Trump administration walks back their recent decision to claw back money earmarked for fighting epidemics around the world.  Back home, St. Louis University opens an influenza hotel.  And the function of REM sleep finally revealed…maybe.

We Want to Hear From You

What do you most want to find out during your upcoming med school orientation?  Are you nervous?  Are you excited? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.

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Parenting Fails, Pro-Life Wins, Free Laser Gifts

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It’s time for a change, whether we want it or not.

Oh, gosh.  It’s Kaci McCleary and Amy Young’s last show as co-hosts.  Irisa Mahaparn and Teneme Konne join them to discuss their impending moves to Colorado and Minnesota. Also, they lament Iowa’s new Fetal Heartbeat Bill and what some observers believe will be an associated collapse of OB/Gyn in Iowa should the law go into effect.  But life goes on, and Amy–a relatively new parent–talks parenting fails.  Luckily for her little Sammy, and sadly for his own children, Dave has her beat.  And listener Corey reaches out on Facebook to tell Dave he’s wrong. Shocker.

Plus, Dave reveals how you can get free swag Dave made with frickin’ laser beams…listen to find out how.

This week in Medical News

Meanwhile, Indiana is recommending that it’s citizens get vaccinations before traveling to…Kentucky and Michigan?  Trump’s old doctor finally admits that his former patient really did dictate his note that praised the then-candidate’s health.  And the Golden State Killer is nabbed by a DNA ancestry website, while privacy advocates fret.

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If you’re a future OB, are you concerned about or celebrating Iowa Republicans’ strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com. Continue reading Parenting Fails, Pro-Life Wins, Free Laser Gifts

More Surgery for Better Global Health: Dr. Mark Shrime

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Is surgery too expensive for global health?

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Is surgery ‘too expensive’ for global health?

Mark Shrime is an otolaryngologist (and American Ninja Warrior competitor) who may just be on the leading edge of change in the way global health sees surgery.  In this conversation with Tony Mai, Amanda Manorot, Brian Wall, and Hadeal Ayoub, Dr. Shrime argues that the way surgery is used in international development to date–surgeons fly in for two weeks, do their thing, and fly back out–doesn’t do much to allow their host countries to develop their own surgery skills.  For his part, he’s managed to arrange his work at Harvard to allow him two months abroad helping to strengthen health systems in countries like Congo, Haiti, Cameroon, and Madagascar.

The problem is, policy-makers see surgery as ‘too expensive,’ disregarding it as a tool for global health intervention.  Ebola and Zika therefore get all the attention.  But analysis of the cost-effectiveness of surgery as a tool in global health efforts belies this view, and shows the burden of surgical diseases may be as high as a third of the global total.  Fortunately, Dr. Shrime has good advice for future surgeons who face a system that embraces Relative Value Units as a measure of physician performance, and yet want to pursue work outside their hospitals to effect global healthcare change.

We Want to Hear From You

What are your thoughts on the effort to elevate surgery as a global health intervention? Any thoughts on who we should interview next? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com to share your ideas.

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