When Doctors Do Harm ft. Danielle Ofri, MD

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Hippocrates set a high bar.

A portrait of Dr. Danielle Ofri, Author of When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error

Dr. Danielle Ofri–NYU professor of medicine, Bellevue Hospital internist, and author of great renown–joined us this time to talk about her new book, When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error.  Examining medical errors is a something all good physicians do–sometimes on a stage in front of their colleagues but often surreptitiously. However, “mistakes were made” simply isn’t acceptable to most patients and lawyers. Meanwhile, the shame felt by practitioners who make mistakes is not only unhelpful but hinders their development and can contribute to burnout and depression.   Because of the consequences of shame are so dire, Dr. Ofri argues in her book that confronting mistakes in a humane, understanding, and open fashion is vital. 

Not many years ago, a headline grabbed her attention:  medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States.  How can that be? she wondered.  If people were dying at that rate, wouldn’t physicians have noticed this earlier?  Of course, it turns out that the story of medical error is much more complicated than that headline would lead one to believe, and set Dr. Ofri on the path to this latest book.  Join MD/PhD student Aline Sandouk, M4 Marisa Evers, M2 Jessica De Haan, and M4 Anne Nora for this discussion on the sources of error, the causes, and the ways to understand and learn from the inevitable.

We also discuss her and her colleagues’ experiences fighting COVID-19 in New York City and learning about the disease in real time.

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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!

Recess Rehash: Is Academic Medicine Right For You?

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[SCP has been given a week off–thanks, pandemic/economic collapse!  We’ll be back next week, but here’s a pre-pandemic rerun to enjoy.]

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).

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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Continue reading Recess Rehash: Is Academic Medicine Right For You?

MD/MBA: Why Physicians Must Know More About Business

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Does a physician need to know everything about healthcare, even the *shudder* money stuff?

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Physicians go through years and years of school to be great at this calling, so why on earth would anyone want to tack on an MBA, too? Co-host Gabe Conley decided to do just that. He’s been thinking about this for a while, but hadn’t pulled the trigger on the idea. Then, as he was about to become a fourth-year medical student, SARS-COV-2 came along and gave him a nudge in the right direction. Gabe explains why he thinks it’s vital to understand business principles as a physician–and it’s not just to make more money.

And Dave prompts Gabe and his fellow co-hosts Aline Sandouk, Brandon Bacalzo, and Madi Wahlen to answer some conversation starters. As a result, some conversations were started and we all learned a thing or two.

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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!

How A Young FAmily Should Think About The Risks Of Med School

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No doubt about it, this road to becoming a physician has financial risks

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It feels risky to go to medical school, and for someone with a young family, like our listener who sent us their question to theshortcoats@gmail.com, those risks can feel existential. After all, if things don’t go as planned, the financial payoff of this calling might not be realized and the debt would be crippling. And Dave, as an inveterate catastrophizer, has sympathy for that worry. But is it the right way to be thinking about this endeavor? Brandon Bacalzo, Mariam Mansour, Levi Endelman and co-host newb Elias Kovoor are here to tell you why it can be better to go for it without fear. (We have done other episodes that focus on the concerns of parenting in medical school from a mom’s perspective and from a dad’s).

Another listener question (Dave forgot to make up names for these anonymous submissions) asks, how the heck are you supposed to “do the research” when looking for a medical school? We have some good suggestions for that, too.

And Dave, aware the his med student friends are always looking to save money at the grocery store, puts together a taste test–can the co-hosts distinguish between store vs. national brands, and which do they think is better?

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Any responses to the stuff we talked about? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  Do all three!

AAMC ‘s VITA interview tool…is it Really Vital?

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Listener Soma let us know that the AAMC has released an interview app for medical schools to collect videos of applicants answers to some standard questions. Their website says the tool addresses the needs expressed by its member schools during the upcoming interview season. Soma wondered, what do we think?

Of course, that no matter what we think, it seems like applicants will probably have to do it anyway. But M2s Mariam Mansour, Greta Becker, Kayla Kruse and Nikitha Pothireddy are on hand to consider. Hmm…what DO we think of a new item for applicants to put on their to-do list in order to apply to medical school? What DO we think of a set of what appear to be screening questions that could be asked in some other interview format, such as a live virtual interview? What DO we think of a tool which seems to add another item to med schools’ to-do list? What DO we think of a tool which seems at a glance to be similar to another tool that was tried and cancelled for Emergency Medicine residency applications due to lack of interest from programs and applicants?

Also, in light of a surge of COVID-19 cases that seem to be driven by young people eager to discard social distancing and masks to hang out with their buds in bars, we discuss the fairness of asking a screening question during interviews about whether the applicant has been doing the right thing to protect others.

This Week in Medical News

The first person to be treated for sickle cell disease with CRISPR in the US has gotten great news. On the other hand, investigators using fMRI to look at brain function have gotten some bad news.

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Obviously, our discussion on questioning applicants on their bar-hopping habits might have other viewpoints we didn’t cover. What did we miss? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  

What Every Med Student Needs To Know About Being a Leader ft. Brent Lacey, MD

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Being a physician leaves you no choice–you ARE going to lead.

A portrait of Dr. Brent Lacey wearing his white coat and smiling
Dr. Brent Lacey is a gastroenterologist who is passionate about helping physicians succeed with business and personal finances. As a physician, he understands how overwhelming it can be to step out of clinical training and into a career, and he has seen firsthand the lack of education on how to run a practice and manage finances. That’s also why he founded The Scope of Practice website. http://www.thescopeofpractice.com/

One of the critical job responsibilities of being a physician is leading a team. Those teams can be small–such as those that are caring for patients–or huge–like those that lead healthcare systems. No matter what, learning how to lead a team–and how to be lead–is as important as any medical knowledge a medical school can impart.

Dr. Brent Lacey is a leader himself, a gastroenterologist, a Naval officer, and physician career coach. He knows a few things about leadership, and he talks about these topics and more on his show, The Scope of Practice Podcast. He visited with MD/PhD student Aline Sandouk, M4 Holly Conger, and M2 Nathen Spitz to talk about what makes great leaders in medicine, how to be a great team member, and–very important for you future interns out there–why having a goal of just surviving the first months of your intern year is not good enough.

Dr. Lacey wasn’t just helpful in our conversation, but he’ll also email you a set of resources just for SCP listeners! Thanks, Dr. Lacey!

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What lessons are you learning about teamwork and leadership? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  

What med students do when they don’t know the right answer

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It feels risky to be wrong…here’s how to get used to that

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[Don’t forget to share the show with your friends and family–send a screenshot of the share to theshortcoats@gmail.com to get a free thank you gift from Dave!]

The Socratic method–teaching using questions–is a big part of medical education. It’s also often a big adjustment that medical students have to make when arriving at med school. Why is this method so important to med school profs, and how do you get comfortable speaking up in front of everyone when you know you’ve got no idea? Short Coats Emma Barr, Nick Lind, Holly Conger, and Tim Maxwell have all been there!

Also, since Dave is a news junky, he has the gang play a headline mashup game. Come along as we find out the controversial views of a professor about the function of bones!


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This Week in Medical News

In the race to re-establish supply lines in the midst of the pandemic, The White House paid the Texas company $7.3 million for test tubes which turned out to be unformed soda bottles. And fears of out-of-control coronavirus transmission due to BLM protests fizzles.

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Have a question we can answer? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  It’s how this show is YOUR show!

The Right (and Wrong) Ways to Get Help with Your Application

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[Once again, our circumstances force us to endure mild sound quality issues. Sorry, but that’s round-table podcasting in the pandemic age. You’ll be alright.]

We got some lovely responses back from listeners of last week’s show (in which we discussed racism in America and in medicine), including a most important one from Cachae on the best ways to talk to your black friends about racism (hint–it’s not asking them to educate you).

And Cam wanted to know whether he could ask an admissions office member for feedback on his primary application before he submits it instead of getting a rejection after. Wouldn’t it be more efficient?

And Dave and his co-hosts–Abby Fyfe, Nick Lind, Madeline Cusimano, and newb Holly Conger–exercise their minds with a game of Would You Rather.


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This Week in Medical News

Science made Dave mad again, with a study on how bald men are more susceptible to poor outcomes from COVID-19 because of the androgens that make them bald–except they didn’t control for one itty-bitty variable! And that study of hydroxychloroquine that found that it’s more deadly than other treatments, thus halting trials around the world? Turns out we shouldn’t trust it much.

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So, how’s it going? Do you even read these questions down here? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  

Timing a peace-corps gap year, and Racism and Medicine

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A group of public professionals, infectious disease professionals and community members are pushing back on the common perception that #BLM protests will unnecessarily exacerbate the pandemic. This news leads to a discussion of racism in America. NB: The discussion should speak for itself, but this is the age of internet outrage. So we acknowledge that when it comes to talking about racism in America, there are few better ways to go wrong than by doing so with a room full of white people. And yet, a handful of white people on a podcast that’s minimally planned is what we had to work with in the moment. We hope we got it mostly right, and whatever we didn’t, we hope that your feedback will be in the spirit in which the discussion took place–heartfelt, sincere, and with an eye towards a future free of white fragility, fear, and especially marginalization.

But before all that, we were blessed with listener question from Kayla, who’s looking forward to some gap years in the Peace Corps. What should she do about the resulting timing problem that creates for her future medical school application?


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So, in our discussion on racism, what did we get wrong, and what did we get right? Express your constructive criticism at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  

the activities Admissions Committees Love to See

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Whatever will the neighbors think?! Photo by Teresa Trimm

Logan wrote in to comment on what we call ‘box-checking,’ the idea that med school admissions committees only want applicants who’ve done all the best activities and lots of them, and that applicants must participate in activities that “stand out” if they want any chance of getting in. Co-hosts Nick Lind, Aline Sandouk, Emma Barr, and Sally Haeberlin discuss what adcomms really want.

Also, we visit Yahoo! Answers for those odd questions we love so well. Shouldn’t docs carry tranquilizer guns?


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This Week in Medical News

Half of Americans don’t plan on getting vaccinated for SARS-COV2 when a vaccine becomes available to them. And many Americans are experiencing major symptoms of anxiety and depression.

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Your questions are important to us. Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  It’s what good listeners do!

An honest guide to the amazing and intense world of medical school.