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!

Applying: Your Experience Is A Bonus, If You Can Tell The Right Story

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Listener Christy has several years as a South Carolina emergency department nurse under her belt. But for a while now, she’s been planning to change careers, with her sights set on an MD. She very much wants, however, to be able to discuss her current work during interviews without coming across as a know-it-all.

We don’t often do this, but Dave decided to invite Christy on the show as a co-host to talk about it, and with Short Coats Anna Wilcox, Camilla Koczara, Greta Becker, and Hannah Steenblock, suggest some strategies to her live and in-person.

As a special bonus, Christy’s been working with COVID-19 patients, so we get to find out a little about her experience on the front lines.

Plus we enjoy a poorly thought-out exercise straight from Dave’s brain on ethical dilemmas. This is your chance to find out: would the co-hosts allow the kitty to live or get that extra penis they’ve been dreaming of?


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This Week in Medical News

While we’re all staying at home and not driving very much, the rate of motor vehicle accident fatalities In March somehow went up compared to last March. And citizens pinning their hopes for COVID-19 treatment on hydroxychloroquine might want to have a re-think.

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If you have questions, comments, or concerns you want to tell us about, call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  We’re here for you!

More Signs that Med School Will Be Different This Fall

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[This episode is brought to you by Pattern. We hope you’ll check out their disability insurance offerings for docs at http://patternlife.com/partner/shortcoat.]

As many of us are, The Short Coats–including this week’s M1 co-hosts Nathen Spitz, Maddie Wahlen, and Caitlin Matteson–have been gazing into their cracked crystal ball to discover the new shape of medical school amid the pandemic. In a previous episode, the crew prognosticated on how interviews would change (and how you can be sure those changes won’t scuttle your chances for interview success), for instance…and it turns out we were right! Adding some certainty to that, the Association of American Medical Colleges has cancelled all its conferences until July of 2021. So yeah.

Sandgroper Largemun, an anonymous listener from Australia, wants to know some ways that he can stand out in medical school to land that choice residency. Good thing you wrote to us at theshortcoats@gmail.com, Sandgroper, because we have ideas for that!


This Week in Medical News

Dave thinks heartthrob Dr. Fauci’s sun is setting as a leading member of the President’s COVID-19 task force. What do you think?

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Has your outlook changed at all since the lockdowns began? Are you feeling optimistic? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  

This Student’s Shame is Changing Our Curriculum

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[This episode is brought to you by Pattern. We hope you’ll check out their disability insurance offerings for docs at http://patternlife.com/partner/shortcoat.]

Doctors and medical students often have an identity based on perfection and infallibility.  Often it that identity comes from their own expectations of themselves, and sometimes it comes from external sources.  Whatever the source, it’s both motivating and problematic to feel shame when mistakes are made,  or when knowledge is imperfect.

Fourth-year student and future OB/Gyn doc Luci Howard visited with MD/PhD student Aline Sandouk and M1s Caitlin Matteson, Morgan Kennedy, and Emerald Dohleman to talk about her project to create a curriculum about shame and medical student identity.  Her shame–as a first-gen college graduate, as a perfectionist, and as someone who’s made mistakes–was holding her hostage in some ways, but now her curriculum works to illuminate and combat the negative effects of shame in medical education, and it will soon be integrated into the College of Medicine’s curriculum. Her work means that future medical learners will learn how to react productively and rationally when they inevitably achieve less-than-perfection.  


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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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Would you be willing to share experiences that have felt shameful in order to help others? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  

Continue reading This Student’s Shame is Changing Our Curriculum

Crush It In Your Zoom Interview

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Your future could include video conference interviews. Avoid (at all costs) giving interviewers a reason to say no.

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This episode is brought to you by Pattern. We hope you’ll check out their disability insurance offerings for docs at http://patternlife.com/partner/shortcoat.

Are Zoom interviews the future? They could be, if some sort of magic doesn’t intervene in the course of the pandemic. Meanwhile, everyone has a love-hate relationship with video conferencing, and Dave fears that those on the sharp end of the interview may not have the technology and skills to shine brightly.

So, with the help of Brandon Bacalzo, Sahaana Arumugam, Nathan Spitz, and Claire Carmichael (all M1s who, like you, are in the thick of virtual everything right now), we collect our thoughts on how you can remove the distractions and subconscious biases that could sink your interview.

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What advice would you give for virtual interviews? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com! We need to hear from YOU!


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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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Exploring Your New Med School City

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Moving to a new place can be daunting–but it’s an amazing opportunity!

This episode is brought to you by Pattern. We hope you’ll check out their disability insurance offerings for docs at http://patternlife.com/partner/shortcoat.

Listener Noodles (not her real name) is planning to go to med school in a new state, perhaps. What’s it like, she wondered, moving to a new state for med school? And Lex Turesboreme is back to ask how MSTP student Miranda Schene and M1s Brandon Bacalzo, Maggie Jakubiak, and Kenzie McKnight deal with an inevitable part of med student life–their families’ medical questions.

Got a question we can help with? Call 347-SHORT-CT or email theshortcoats@gmail.com. We’ll talk about it on the show!


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

A Texas nursing home medical director has decided it’s a good idea to do what he’s calling an “observational study” of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine on his elderly patients with COVID-19. And we can’t help but discuss the president’s thoughts on disinfectant and the VP’s coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx’s rather visible reaction:

Continue reading Exploring Your New Med School City

How the Sausage is Made: Why Doctors–and Students–Must Engage In Politics

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Policy is not sexy. I mean, it’s not saving lives, or curing disease, or making groundbreaking discoveries. But it isn’t a stretch to say that policy is as important as any of these, because politicians are making decisions about health and healthcare that affect millions of patients and their physicians. The laws they come up with determine what you can do for your patients, how you practice medicine, how you get paid, what kinds of care are legal or illegal, and much, much more. Seems like something doctors should pay attention to, perhaps even get directly involved with.

M4 and future surgeon Sarah Eikenberry got a glimpse of the process as the first student to take the Carver College of Medicine’s new advocacy clerkship. Think you know how a bill gets passed? You might be surprised to know that Schoolhouse Rock didn’t tell us the whole story. Her self-assigned project for the clerkship was to get a bill passed in the Iowa state legislature to include the Stop The Bleed campaign in public education in Iowa. That turns out to be a pretty big project! Was she successful? What did she learn? Where do things go often off the rails?


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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!

We Want to Hear From You

Do you have an interest in public policy? Tell us about it at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  We’d love to know more!

Continue reading How the Sausage is Made: Why Doctors–and Students–Must Engage In Politics

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