Dennis Wesley is an independent educational researcher, whose interests include STEM, the Humanities, and health sciences--especially interdisciplinary practices and methods.
Written in 1978, Sontag’s long form essay ‘Illness as Metaphor’ is poignant for its historical study of illnesses and the metaphors that are used to describe them. These metaphors, most often, have a punitive and mystified connotation. Sontag takes us through the journey of metaphors attached with tuberculosis and, more recently, cancer. Essentially, she advocates for an explanatory language that is based on medical truths rather than on the disposition of the afflicted.
As a proponent of critical theory, it might seem like Sontag is handing over an illness to the field that it belongs to- the medical. However, she presents the tendency of philosophers and the general populace to shroud an illness, about which very little is known, in colorful and distasteful figurative language. ...continue reading
In this special episode, Dr. Diane Kelsall, previous interim editor-in-chief for CMAJ, interviews Dr. Andreas Laupacis, new editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
They chat about:
- first impressions after two days on the job
- his vision for the journal
- his life as the child of refugee parents
- the state of health care today
- his proudest accomplishments during his career up to this point
- why he decided it was time to stop doing clinical work
If you want to get in touch with Dr. Laupacis, you can reach him at:
or on Twitter: twitter.com/AndreasLaupacis
Marika Warren is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioethics, Dalhousie University.
In early July The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia dismissed a complaint against Dr. Ellen Wiebe made by the Louis Brier Home and Hospital, an Orthodox Jewish long term care facility. Dr. Wiebe had provided medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to a patient who resided in Louis Brier who had requested it. She thereby contravened the Home's policy. Cases such as these are increasingly likely as the policies of institutions exercising conscientious objection conflict with both patients’ interests in accessing MAiD (and other services) and providers’ interests in practicing with integrity. One way to resolve such conflicts would be to recognize a claim to conscientious provision of health care services that parallels the claims of individuals and organizations to conscientious objection. ...continue reading
Iris Gorfinkel is a General Practitioner, and Founder and Principal Investigator at PrimeHealth Clinical Research in Toronto, Ontario.
Medical documentation in primary care is a balancing act between promoting timely connection with patients and reducing clerical demands placed on physicians. Clinical notes contain increasingly less by way of narrative. They are often made up of time-saving digitized checklists of symptoms, physical findings, and treatments. Or the progress note may be a copy-and-pasted template. Both checklists and templates lessen the need for clinician typing and offer detailed notes within a few clicks.
Prior to the electronic medical record (EMR), hand-written or dictated notes would often relate a patient’s experience by quoting patients' descriptions of their symptoms. With the arrival of the EMR, doctors, most of whom had little typing experience, were abruptly confronted with having to type detailed patient encounters. The degree to which a clinician must type has since been correlated with physician burnout, which has risen sharply in conjunction with EMR utilization. ...continue reading
Sarina Lalla is a medical student in class of 2020 at McMaster University.
When I was on an emergency medicine rotation, I asked for a room to tell a patient news about an X-ray. I was told that this was not a common practice given the scarcity of private rooms. It was advised that I inform them in the waiting room where other strangers sat nearby. I was also told to present cases to staff in small spaces in earshot of patients. This was unsettling to me, and pushed me to reflect on confidentiality and privacy breaches in the ED.
Canadian EDs are well-known to be overcrowded. With limited resources and a high patient volume, the space of a department is used to house a maximum of patients. Sometimes thin curtains are separating patients, or nothing is separating them at all. Often, they are placed in hallways and close to workstations where healthcare staff outside of their circle of care are working. ...continue reading
Akina Fay is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at McGill University.
Days after my fourteenth birthday, I was diagnosed with a rare brain malformation and underwent emergency brain surgery to prevent my spinal cord from dissecting.
Days after my seventeenth birthday, my mother was diagnosed with a rare form of incurable cancer.
At the age of twenty, I started medical school and began to piece together the pathophysiological processes that lead to our illnesses.
At the age of twenty-two, my mother died in my arms after a grueling year of hospitalizations, pain and suffering.
CMAJ’s Holiday Reading is back! CMAJ Blogs will host the popular Holiday Reading series online in December 2019.
We’re seeking witty, offbeat, whimsical stories grounded in medicine. Have ideas? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Need inspiration? Check out some popular stories from previous years:
Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood
Diving into the ice bucket challenge
Kacper Niburski is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at McGill University. He is also the CMAJ student humanities blog editor. Follow his writing instagram: @_kenkan.
The following was written because of this floating into my inbox like ash.
You asked me what objects looked like breasts. It was morning and the sun was yawning and you said you needed to write a thing for a thing. What thing, I asked? For a class, you told me. I flopped pancakes onto your plate, watched them deflate like a frown. Your pajamas were hanging loose, threads licked skin. Hair was a brown bush for birds or fingers. Eyes tired, hungry. Coffee beans were roasting. Burning. ...continue reading
Ever wish you could ask a wise, kind, approachable Student Affairs Dean something about CaRMS, without having to admit the question was yours?
Enter Dear Dr. Horton. Send the anonymous CaRMs questions that keep you up at night to a real former Dean of Medical Student Affairs, Dr. Jillian Horton. We will use your questions to shape a special upcoming CaRMS podcast.
Submit your questions anonymously through this form.
See an example from last year: CaRMS interview tips!
Grace Zhao is a third year MD/MSc student in the Systems Leadership and Innovation program at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation.
Ontario is undergoing its biggest health system reform in 50 years. Under Premier Doug Ford, 20 health agencies will be merged into a superagency – Ontario Health. The rationale behind this is to eliminate duplicative back office infrastructure and administration in order to streamline work to achieve integrated and coordinated care. The functional unit would be the Ontario Health Teams, which are made up of local health care providers who work together to provide coordinated care through technology.
With much attention being placed on health systems innovation and transformation, I asked two health system leaders on their thoughts about leading system innovation and transformation and the current climate of Ontario’s health care system. ...continue reading