The Mysteries of the Cost of Healthcare ft. Dan Weissman

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An Arm and a Leg

shocked photoDan Weissman is a former NPR journalist who was interested in the crazy world of healthcare costs in America.  He’d suggested to his former bosses that he start covering people’s stories of dealing with their medical care and it’s often unpredictably wallet-sucking expenses, reasoning that the subject is one we all can relate to.  Plus, he though, it’s a damn important topic with political, economic, and personal implications.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t the story he’d been employed to tell, so he back-burnered the idea.

Until one day he decided to leave radio and strike out on his own.  As Dan put it to co-hosts Aline Sandouk, Laura Quast, and Dr. John Pienta, suddenly that story was very personal.  After all, he didn’t have health insurance through an employer anymore, and he found it difficult to even make a decision on what insurance to buy since that industry (and its collaborators in healthcare) makes choosing intentionally difficult by not supplying information we usually rely on to make purchasing choices.  So he started his new job, one he created for himself, a podcast he named An Arm and a Leg.  Now in its second season, the show explores the topsy-turvy world of paying for health, using the stories of real people.  Those people are incredibly easy to find, too, because they are our friends, neighbors, relatives, acquaintances, strangers, men, women, children…all of us are victims.  If we want to fix it, Dan’s here to say that our best hope is listen to and understand these stories, because we’re all in this mess together.


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This Week in Medical News

This week, president Donald Trump signed an executive order that would require insurance companies, hospitals, and doctors to give patients more info about the prices they’ll pay for healthcare…but some say he have consulted with Danish cement manufacturers?  And Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders uses a puzzling figure to support his signature campaign issue of “Medicare-for-all”…a figure that Politifact and Kaiser Health News isn’t so positive about.

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What stories have you heard about the damage caused by spiraling and opaque healthcare costs? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  Do all three!

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Recess Rehash: Tests, Tact, and Turpentine

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Everyone gets anxious about tests.  And med school features a lot of tests.

chemicals photo[Dave’s on vacation, so here’s a rerun for ya.]

The news that students at Oregon Health and Science University will now be subject to ‘compassion tests‘  in order to graduate got Dave thinking about test anxiety.  As schools pile on the examinations, how do students deal with the stress?  Dabin Choi, Gabe Conley, Claire Casteneda, and Erik Kneller discuss meditation, sleep, prayer, and eating habits that keep them from letting the fear derail them.

Also in the news, a GQ interview with comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish espouses an unusual cure-all the government doesn’t want us to know about: a teaspoon of turpentine.  Can this week’s co-hosts do her one better by convincing Dave that the effects of various other household and industrial chemicals are government-suppressed remedies?

This Week in Medical News

Why can’t Dave stop himself from succumbing to the lure of science’s newest form of clickbait: the ‘we-found-a-new-organ’ article? One man’s sexually transmitted disease clearly made the BBC’s headline editor clap his hands together with a gleeful tactlessness.

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Do you suffer from severe test anxiety?  What do you do for it? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com!

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Advice for your first clinicals: slow your roll.

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Can you trust MSAR?

When listener Caven wrote in asking why CCOM graduates don’t include hardly any specialists and why they all seemed to be going into primary care, Dave was puzzled.  While it’s true that a state school like ours, serving a rural part of the country, emphasizes primary care, he knew that not ‘everyone’ goes into primary care.  On further questioning, it turns out Caven’s info came from the Medical School Application Requirements (MSAR) tool on the AAMC website!  What was going on?  Dave sought help from his friends in Admissions, and it turns out that MSAR doesn’t tell the whole story…and aspiring med students have to dig deeper.

Also, Dave asks his co-hosts Matt Wilson and Tony Mai, both rising M4s, to give their advice for those starting clinical rotations.  And they help Aline Sandouk and LJ Agostinelli answer some of Yahoo! Answers most probing health questions.


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This Week in Medical News

There’s good news in med school diversity–the number of students underrepresented in medicine is on the rise.  A paper in Nature Microbiology says the authors have found an easy and economic way to convert A and B red blood cells to type O cells, the universal donor type.  And a study in JAMA notes that patients of surgeons who behave unprofessionally around their colleagues have more complications.  Plus, cell phone horns are probably not a thing.

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Kernels of Truth

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Photo by Choubistar

The thing about conspiracies that’s hard to combat is that there is sometimes a kernel of truth in them that makes them more believable.  Dave found some unfortunate ‘facts’ about medicine and doctors on a random website , and asked Miranda Schene, Kyle Kinder, Nick Lind, and Dr. John Pienta not to refute them, but to discuss the little nugget of truthiness they’re based on.  Warning: in the end, we didn’t bother to refute them–we figured y’all are learned enough to know why they’re truthy-but-not-true!  Let us know if we’re wrong about that!

And Dave asks his co-hosts if they can find the true research title among the truthy garbage titles he made up.


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This Week in Medical News

Friend of the show Dr. Yolanda Villalvazo found out that Veterans Administration Hospitals have been experimenting with a program for a few years that allows patients to tell their providers what they should know about their lives.  And Dave rants about the state of the research poster…but one man thinks he has a solution for those afflicted by the poster session blues.

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A new class of MD students is getting ready to begin at med schools all over the country.  What questions do you have about med school? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  Do all three!

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How Med Students Learn about Cultural Competency

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Cultural competency is a tough thing to teach, but so important.  Today’s physician (and med students!) encounter patients from wide range of backgrounds, any of which could come into play in a patient-provider interaction.  In this episode, Brent asks how med students learn about the nuances that come with treating people of different backgrounds, from ethnicity to gender to religion to disability.  Aline Sandouk and Brady Campbell consider the question and offer their experiences.

And Brady, who’s co-hosting on the eve of leaving CCOM for a year-long Masters in Public Health program at Hopkins, talks about why he’s pursuing a whole ‘nother degree and why he’s decided Hopkins is the right place for that given that we have a lovely Public Health school right next door.


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This Week in Medical News

A New Jersey pastor and a British clairvoyant are under investigation for promoting the use of ‘miracle mineral solution’ as a cure for malaria in Uganda.  The WHO has removed ‘gender identity disorder’ from the International Classification of Disease.  And with Viagra’s patent set to expire, what’s on the horizon for ED treatment?  Don’t worry, we make plenty of jokes about that, as if you had any doubt.

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What are your questions for The Short Coats? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  Do all three!

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Recess Rehash: What Med Schools Miss Out On Because of “Technical Standards”

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Diversity includes disability

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Photo by b_lumenkraft

[We took a break last week, so here’s a rerun in case you missed it!]

Dr. Marley Doyle is a reproductive psychiatrist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  She’s also “legally blind”, with 20/400 vision.  She struggled through medical school just like all med students, but with that additional complication.  She made it, however, and her discussion with Aditi Patel and Irisa Mahaparn gives some clues as to why.  First, her disability was invisible which made it easy for people to assume that she wasn’t disabled.  And second, she was naive to the fact that she could ask for help.  In other words, she stumbled through it all and came out the other side without having been a “burden” for her school. Years later, she acknowledges that she could have asked for more help.

We also discuss the technical standards that most schools have in place to define what a student physician should be able to do physically, intellectually, and emotionally to succeed in school.  These standards, however, often seem to be written with a stereotypical disabled person in mind, one who cannot possible succeed because of their disability, and thus should not be in medical school.  We discuss the concept of “assumed competence” which, as  recent CCOM guest lecturer Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami pointed out, allows people with disabilities to show they are able to fulfill their duties as opposed to assuming they cannot.  And we discuss the AAMC’s recent first-of-its-kind report “Accessibility, Inclusion, and Action in Medical Education Lived Experiences of Learners and Physicians With Disabilities,” which brought to light the inconsistent policies and procedures for, lack of support of, and lack of awareness many schools have of their legal obligations under the law towards students with disabilities.  And we talk about why med schools that don’t encourage disabled people to apply are missing out on a piece of the diversity puzzle.

Plus, Dr. Doyle helps answer a listener who is lucky enough to have several med school acceptances, and wants to know how to decide among them!  Lucky you, ‘Anxious Premed!’  Don’t worry, we can help.


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We Want to Hear From You

Are you living with a disability and discouraged about your med school plans?  Are you in medical school, disabled, and have some advice to offer? Tell us about it by calling 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.

Continue reading Recess Rehash: What Med Schools Miss Out On Because of “Technical Standards”

Failure is an Option…When You Learn From It.

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So many great questions to answer

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Photo by Florence Ivy

We’re clearing out the backlog of listener questions–thank you listeners for so many fun ideas to talk about!  Cailin had her med school dreams ‘crushed’ in college when the science prereqs turned out to be too intense.  She’s now considering an MPH, but she hasn’t entirely given up on becoming an MD.  Aline Sandouk, Irisa Mahaparn, Levi Endelman, and Dr. John Pienta are on board to say it’s not really a problem, Cailin…as long as you can be realistic about the timeline.

And Melvin Piebags (not his real name) sent in a series of questions: how do we cope with failure?  Is anatomy lab a grim place to be?  How do we cope with difficult patients and colleagues?  We’re answering them all on this episode.

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 We Want to Hear From You

Do you like our answers? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.   Continue reading Failure is an Option…When You Learn From It.

The Laws that are Shrinking the Telomeres of OB/Gyn Residents

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Admissions counselor Megan Kosovski joins Aline Sandouk, Emma Barr, Nick Lind, and Hannah Van Ert for this show, because we had a listener question from a Canadian listener not-named “Molson.” What’s it like, Molson wanted to know, for a Canadian to apply to medical school in the US, which he’s considering doing since Canadian schools are so few and the odds are so low.  Molson, pull the tab on that brewski and we’ll get you sorted.

As Executive Producer Jason Lewis is leaving us for greener pastures, Dave is preparing to take part in interviewing his replacement.  Which means that he’s gotta rev up his BS detector so he can help select the right person.  With that in mind, can his co-hosts detect the BS or truth found within the often ridiculous claims found Snopes.com?


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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 tragic incident of a trans man losing his baby after a series of errors and confusion related to his gender is detailed in a case study.  Yet another reason for the US graduate medical education system to change how it treats residents might be found in their shrinking telomeres.  And the risks to OB/Gyn training that recent abortion bills in Alabama and elsewhere are posing (WARNING: politics and conspiracy theories ahead!).

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How do you feel about the recent anti-abortion bills? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  Do all three!

Continue reading The Laws that are Shrinking the Telomeres of OB/Gyn Residents

In 2019, Medicine Is Political.

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Photo by torbakhopper

[Once again, our charitable mission is supported in this episode by CommonBond.  Thank you, CommonBond!!!]

Former listener Cash commented on Facebook that he doesn’t listen any more because of our political comments.  So on today’s show, Aline Sandouk, Rob Humble, Irisa Mahaparn, and Admissions Counselor Kate McKenzie help Dave process Cash’s feedback.  Should medical students, physicians, and scientists express themselves on political issues or should they remain publicly neutral? Moreover, with medicine and science having become among the hottest topics in politics, is there an actual obligation to take a stand?


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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 recent study of volunteers who had their genes sequenced, proteins mapped, biome surveyed, and blood analyzed intensively found that the dream of “personalized” medicine may just be within reach…but at what cost?  Coca Cola is accused of including undisclosed kill clauses in its nutrition research agreements in case don’t like the results.  And another study confirms that which women of color have three times the risk of dying during pregnancy and after compared to white women!

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How can we help you on your med school journey? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  Do all three!

Continue reading In 2019, Medicine Is Political.

Marcia’s Measley Message Makes Mistaken Moms Mad

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Maureen McCormick as Marcia Brady

Our charitable mission is supported in this episode by CommonBond.  Be sure to pay them a visit to learn more about their new medical school loan, and tell ’em we sent you!

Emma Barr, Miranda Schene, Allison Klimesh, and new co-host Jenna Mullins are all first-years at the Carver College of Medicine.  As our co-hosts this time, they’re happy to help answer listener questions!  For instance, Tim wrote to us asking about the disadvantaged applicant designation on the med school application, saying he’s hesitant to apply it to himself though on paper he might fit that description.  And Mike wrote in to clarify some things about three-year MD degree programs, but he’s also wondering if he might be a good fit for an accelerated path.

This week in medical news, actor Maureen McCormick claps back at anti-vaxxers who are using an episode of the 1960s sitcom The Brady Bunch, which she starred in as Marcia Brady, to support their argument that measles is not that big of a deal.

Which got Dave thinking about the medical dramas of his youth (and beyond), specifically their theme songs.  Can his co-hosts Name Those Med Tunes?


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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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What was your favorite medical drama and why? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime, visit our Facebook group, or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.

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Broadcasts from the amazing and intense world of medical school.