What We’re Still Doing, What Brings Us Joy

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Photo by Martin Lindstrom

Dave asked listeners what they’re doing to help out in the time of COVID-19 and got some responses back to talk about.  These things, whether big or small, directly related or tangential to this public health crisis–even if it means staying at home–are all part of an unusual effort among the people of the world to contribute to a greater purpose.  Whether it’s making PPE, making explainer videos, picking up garbage outside, or staying home, it’s all important.

Which reminded Dave of a New Yorker article on why many people find it so difficult to believe that this massive effort of social distancing and lockdowns is a good idea.

And we talk about the things that still are able to bring us joy even when we can’t venture out of the house.


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What is bringing you joy these days? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  Do all three!

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Podcasting from A (social) distance

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(For the first time ever, we did the show with all five hosts in different places,  and it shows.  Forgive the scratchy audio in some places. We’re working on it, and hope you can look past it this time.)

In this time of social distancing, The Short Coats reluctantly step back from their education and research.   New co-hosts M1s Ananya Munjal and Claire Carmichael, along with MD/PhD students Aline Sandouk and Miranda Schene, discuss the national residency Match statistics, what their lives look like as they distance themselves from other humans.


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This Week in Medical News

A 3D printing company comes to Italy’s rescue, making ventilator parts, then gets sued for patent infringement for their trouble.  Flattening the curve may look more like flattening many curves.  And some believers in Indian traditional medicine suggest drinking cow urine will fight COVID-19.

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Have you joined any efforts to help your community amid social distancing? Tell us about it at 347-SHORTCT or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.

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Covid-19 could change the world…forever

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There’s no doubt that the global pandemic of COVID-19 has caused much human suffering.  And for those people around the world who are the worst affected, know that you have our deepest sympathies.  No one should have to go through this.

Nevertheless, something compelled Dave to think about the ways that society might change as a result of the pandemic…in some ways, perhaps for the better; in others, perhaps things will just different than were before.  Either way, co-hosts Eric Boeshart, Kenzie McKnight, Michael Gardeau, and Nathen Spitz try to look into the crystal ball a bit.

Next up, the crew answers some listener questions.  “Lex Turesboreme”  wants some advice on using lectures wisely when attendance isn’t required.  And Soon-to-be-Dr-Ray is looking for some perspectives on which school to enroll in: the DO school or the MD school.  We’re on it, friends!

And Dave takes the opportunity to put on his fake medical educator hat to give a pop quiz on historical epidemics.


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Why you’re better off on day one not knowing what kind of doc you want to be.

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Med school may be a trying experience, but it’s made so much better by the lifelong friends you meet.  That’s the case for today’s co-hosts, Kylie Miller, Olivia Pittman, Danielle Schilling, and Erin Pazaski, all M4s.  Their experience turns out to be a good thing for listener Coleman who wants to know if he should already know what his specialty will be on his first day at med school this coming fall, or if not knowing will disadvantage him in some way.

Also discussed: their upcoming Match Week (perhaps to be cancelled due to COVID-19), and the bad advice they’ve gotten on how to appear confident and competent as lady docs.


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This Week in Medical News

The director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, offering advice on reducing the spread of COVID-19, was the source of some internet amusement this week.  And perhaps one day you’ll do your residency at Walmart!

We Want to Hear From You

What bad advice have you gotten on how to present yourself as a woman? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.

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Holding out for your dream school

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Brandon Bacalzo (in back), Jessica De Haan (front) and others visit a giant inflatable colon. As one does.

Emotions are difficult to ignore.  Especially when those emotions are telling us to ACT NOW!  That’s what listener Jordan from Texas is fighting as he happily gets an acceptance from his backup, with no word from his dream school.  Should he commit now?  Should he sit tight?  Co-hosts Brandon Bacalzo, Michael Gardeau, Jessica De Haan, and Cody West (All M1s) share their experiences and advice for Jordan.

And Dave continues his quest to learn all he can about his med student friends with a game of Would You Rather.


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This Week in Medical News

What if transplant patients could introduce their immune systems to a friend who broadened its horizons and eliminated the need for anti-rejection meds?  The National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art will help remove and preserve your tattoos after you die.  And the first observed case of bladder fermentation syndrome.

We Want to Hear From You

How’s med school application season going for you?  Did you experience any interview trail weirdness you want to share? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  We love all kinds of messages!

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Is Academic Medicine Right For You?

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Academic medicine–in which a physician works at a university and may have research and/or teaching duties in addition to patient care–is but one of the fulfilling options available to medical students.  What’s that lifestyle like?  That’s the question an anonymous listener (who we’ll call Dr. Piledhigh Erandeeper) wanted our help answering. Fortunately we have Miranda Schene and Sahaana Arumugam (both in our Medical Scientist Training Program, so they know a thing or two about academic medicine) on hand to tell us–including co-hosts M1 Brandon Bacalzo and M2 Mason LaMarche–what they know about this career option.

Plus Dave puts his co-hosts through a game of Doctor Forehead, featuring some of the more interesting oddball medical stories he ran across prepping for this week’s show (see the next section for those links).


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This Week in Medical News

The President’s new budget could be another nail in the coffin for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.  Mayo applicants get acceptance letters that the institution later had to rescind, causing one of the disgruntled victims to create a crowdfunding campaign.  And if you’re in the market for “global elite” DNA, then…well, you’ve already missed your chance.  And from our game:

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Step 1 is Pass/Fail. Now what???

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Does making Step 1 pass/fail change everything?

The news that the USMLE changed the all-important Step 1 exam–which many residency programs have been using improperly to stratify applicants and which can affect one’s specialty choice–to pass/fail starting in 2022-ish caused quite a bit of shock and consternation last week.  Sure, some celebrated the change as a victory, but there’s just one liiiiiittle problem: the more competitive residency programs feel they need some standardized measure to base their choices on.

Several listeners wrote in with questions on the change, and the underlying concerns those questions addressed was the uncertainty left in the wake of this change–to wit, “what am I to aim for if there is no three-digit score I can point to as a mark of excellence?”  Though the powers-that-be are essentially responding, “we’re working on it, we’ll get back to you on that,” there are some possibilities to consider.   And we shall, with the help of M4 Matt Wilson, MD/PhD students Aline Sandouk and Hannah Van Ert, and M1 Nathen Spitz.

Special thanks to listener Terrified Chihuahua and everyone who reached out with questions on this sudden shift in the medical education landscape!


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What are your thoughts on how a pass/fail Step 1 score will change medical education and the residency application process? Did we miss anything? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com!

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Why Come to the US for Residency When Turkey has Pet Parks?

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istanbul photoTurkish listener Ali would like to come to the US for residency and to practice medicine someday, so he wrote to us to ask us what we knew about how that works.  Co-host Nadia Wahba happened to visit Turkey a while back and blew our minds by letting us in on a little secret: that in the city she visited, there are public parks full of well-cared-for pets you can visit and play with.

Also, Dave subjects the gang–which also includes MD/PhD student Miranda Schene, M2 Jenna Mullins, and M3 Brendan George–to a game of Great Minds Think Alike: Med School Edition.


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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!

This Week in Medical News

A Florida resident calls the cops after they receive what the suspect is a box of Novel Coronavirus (now named Covid-19 by science) from China.  And how an AI alerted some agencies and businesses early to the pandemic, before it blew up and just a day after a now-deceased Chinese ophthalmologist tried to warn his med school classmates.

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Singer, Songwriter, Scientist: Rosanne Cash

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What does Rosanne Cash have to do with science or medicine?

Sure, the American pop, folk, country, and roots rock legend isn’t technically a scientist.  But it was surprising for us to learn that Rosanne Cash has the soul of one within her, with its arms spread comfortably around her musician and poet souls.  When the University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium reached out to the College of Medicine to let us know she’d be putting on a concert and might be interested in coming to speak on a panel, we had to dig a little deeper to find out about the connection.

Rosanne was diagnosed in 2007 with Chiari malformation with syringomyelia, a disorder of the skull which puts pressure on the brain and causes the cerebellum to protrude into the spinal canal.  It’s an incredibly painful, debilitating problem that is usually diagnosed in children, not in a woman in her 50s.  Her doctors gave her all sorts of diagnoses (some with a dose of condescension), until she diagnosed herself.  Even then, it took finding the right doctor to believe her to get her on the long journey to recovery.  The lessons of her identity and career-threatening condition are profound.

Then, too, there is Rosanne’s curiosity about music and the brain.  With MD/PhD student Miranda Schene, M1 Alexa Schmitz and neuroscientist Justin Sipla, PhD she was fully on board for an often trippy exploration of how and why we are creatures of rhythm, the “sorcery” our brains use to fabricate meaning from vibrations in the world around us, and what an openness to shared experiences can do for medical students and doctors and their patients.

There are other connections to medicine.  The link between a performer being on stage for an audience and physicians performing a role for their patients are considerable, and the lessons Rosanne has learned about creating a shared experience between performer and audience are applicable to the relationship between doctors and their patients.  But there is also her desire to “keep a beginner’s mind” that every doctor should appreciate–cultivating one’s curiosity and understanding that “insecurity is part of the game” are essential lessons that could keep you from missing something important in patient care.


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Never forget that we are always excited to answer our listeners’ questions or take their suggestions. Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.

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$600,000 in med school debt?!

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shout photoListener Salutes McGee (not her real name) is planning on med school after her tour of duty.  What hard-won skills, she wonders, will transfer to medicine?  And Krystal writes in with her med school debt worries.  Will she need to plan to pay off $600,000 all in?  No need to fear, Krystal and Salutes, because M4s Liza Mann, Derek Bradley, Jessie White, and M2 Abby Fife are here to soothe your fears and answer your questions.

Dave quizzes his co-hosts on medicinal booze.  And And Dave heard from University of Maryland medical student and Elisabeth Fassas that she’d written a book published by Simon and Schuster’s Kaplan arm just before she started medical school last fall.  So as a bonus, he asked her for some tips on how you can set yourself up for a successful pre-medical experience from the very beginning.  Pick up her book, Making Pre-Med Count, at your favorite bookseller.


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

For the first time, lab-grown heart muscle tissue has been transplanted into a human patient.  And never mind coughing into your elbow or sneezing into a handkerchief; if you want to stop the spread of germs, just lower your damn voice.

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Are you (or do you know of) a medical student anywhere who’s done something cool like Elisabeth Fassas? Write to us at theshortcoats@gmail.com.  Maybe we can help spread the word!

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