Rashi Hiranandani is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Ottawa
Medical school is a stressful time in students’ lives. There are emotional, physical, and mental stressors; particular daunting is the stress of being in new clinical environments on a weekly or even daily basis and having patients’ lives in our hands. Medical students are sleep deprived and over-worked. We have the stress of not matching to the residency of our choice or even not matching to a residency program at all. Medical students also experience significant burnout and compassion fatigue, with burnout rates ranging from 27 to 75% . It thus comes as no surprise that medical students suffer from rates of mental illness higher than the general population. This is not ideal for the health of the medical students, nor is it optimal for the health of the patients they care for.
A 2016 systematic review published in JAMA reported that, on average, 27.2% of medical students deal with depression or depressive symptoms . Among students who suffer from depression, only 16% receive help . ...continue reading
Welcome to this week's edition of Dear Dr. Horton. Send the anonymous questions that keep you up at night to a real former Dean of Medical Student Affairs, Dr. Jillian Horton, and get the perspective you need with no fear of judgment. Submit your questions anonymously through this form, and if your question is appropriate for the column, expect an answer within a few weeks!
Dear Dr. Horton,
Over the past month, much of what is occurring in our political and social climate has been serving as a constant reminder of inappropriate behaviours/sexual harassment I've experienced as both a patient and a medical learner.
Do you have any advice in navigating these feelings?
Domhnall MacAuley is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK.
Research conferences should be an opportunity to gain insights from discussion and collegial debate about new research. At times, though, I have seen debate become adversarial and counterproductive; questions can be aggressive and speakers defensive. But one of the great attributes of the North American Primary Care Research Group annual meeting (NAPCRG) is the culture intellectual rigor yet respectful and collegial discussion, and the support for early career researchers. Researchers with impressive track records in publication in international journals are always keen to share their knowledge and help their colleagues. David Meyers, a long time NAPCRG supporter unable to attend the conference this year due to illness sent a video message in which he said, "May you find meaning in your work and friendship in your colleagues." ...continue reading
Mohamad Matout is a Psychiatry Resident (R1) at McGill University
The debate regarding what should future doctors be learning during medical school is sensitive and convoluted. During the four years in which students learn basic sciences and acquire basic clinical knowledge, due to lack of time, little is taught with regards to major topics such as nutrition1, lifestyle changes, oral health2 and basic computer literacy3. One could argue that psychology is another field in which future physicians lack structured education. Our curriculum is usually centred around understanding the biology of pathophysiology and, when possible, the neurobiology of psychopathologies. While we may be introduced to the area of psychology and an understanding of pathologic defense mechanisms, the world of psychotherapy remains mysterious to medical students and physicians in general. ...continue reading
Dr. Dhruvin Hirpara is a General Surgery resident at the University of Toronto
Dr. Nancy Baxter is a colorectal surgeon at St. Michael's Hospital
Dr. Fayez Quereshy a surgical oncologist at the University Health Network.
Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related death amongst men, and the third leading cause of cancer-related death in women in Canada. Although screening has contributed to declining incidence in the elderly, recent epidemiological data reflect a rise in CRC among young adults. Data from the Canadian Cancer Registry suggest a steady increase in young-onset (15-49y) CRC, from 745 cases in 1969 to 1475 cases in 2010. In Ontario, the incidence of CRC has been increasing in young adults (30-49y) since 2005, from 6.17 per 100,000 to 9.08 per 100,000 for colon cancer, and 4.31 per 100,000 to 6.29 per 100,000 for rectal cancer. Evidence from other jurisdictions, including France, Australia, and the United States reflects similar trends in the rise of young-onset CRC. Why this apparent increase in CRC among younger people? We don’t yet know the cause but theories point to an interplay of several potential factors.
Giuliana Guarna is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at McMaster University
I pulled back the large door and stepped into the room. It was early in the morning — just after 6 am. She was lying in bed, awake, with a smile on her face despite the fact that she was post-op. The evidence of surviving rounds of chemo were borne out in front of me. Her hair was peach fuzz, peeking through a silk turban wrapped around her head. Her cheeks were like little Timbits, but her frame was swallowed by her hospital gown.
“Oh, hi. Come in. Let me turn on the light.”
I walk to the foot of the bed. The sun had not yet peeked out from under the shades. The room was illuminated by a yellowish-white hospital glow as she pressed the switch.
“How are you today?” ...continue reading
Stephanie Hinton is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Queen's University
It’s August 17th. My grandmother died today. She never made it to palliative care. Instead, she was kept in the corner of a hospital room surrounded by empty walls and a window looking out over a parking lot. She was confined to her bed, barely conscious, and at the mercy of those with little experience in end-of-life care because she had not quite been deemed “palliative.” I sat by her bedside for 12 hours a day, 3 days in a row, leaving only to sleep. I watched her grimace in pain and counted down the hours to the next dose of pain medication. It would finally come — four hours late and barely offering the relief she was looking for. We waited for a doctor to come check on her and answer our questions. We were told they didn’t know where the doctor was or when the doctor was coming, or — my personal favourite — “Doctor’s don’t need to keep you informed of every care decision.”
She had been refused IV hydration and kept NPO, and her vitals were never checked. When they were finally checked, she was saturating dangerously below 90%. On August 17th at 8:00 am, we received a call telling us she would be moved to palliative care. At 8:15 am, we got a call telling us she had died. She was alone. We had been given empty promises the night before that she “might pull through,” and we were unable to stay the night. We were given the “privilege” of seeing her 45 minutes after she had passed, the “privilege” of calling family members to ask them if they would like to come and say their final goodbyes. We had the “privilege” of sitting by her bedside and waiting for family to arrive long after she had transitioned between life and death, doctors and nurses nowhere in sight to offer the support we desperately needed. We sat with a dreadful feeling, wondering how we could have better advocated for her and knowing she was not given the dignified death she deserved. This feeling would linger and creep up months after her death. ...continue reading
June Duong is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Queen's University
Author’s note: This is a satire inspired by #tampongate on Twitter, which occurred on October 27, 2018 in response to policies regarding the use of menstrual hygiene products during the MCCQEII. All characters in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Dr. John Doe woke up on Saturday morning and cooked himself a large breakfast. It was doomsday, for he would be doing his exam this weekend. He was going to be out all day. He did not know whether he would be doing the exam in the morning or in the afternoon — not that it mattered in the end, since he would be sequestered for the rest of the time anyway. As far as the instructions he’s been provided with, all they said was, “Do not bring food. A light snack will be provided depending on your examination schedule.” Dr. Doe, with his three degrees, translated this statement into a big, fat maybe. You may get food so that you can focus on your exam, or you may have an empty stomach gnawing away at itself. ...continue reading
Welcome to this week's edition of Dear Dr. Horton! Send the anonymous questions that keep you up at night to a real former Dean of Medical Student Affairs, Dr. Jillian Horton, and get the perspective you need with no fear of judgment. Submit your questions anonymously through this form, and if your question is appropriate for the column, expect an answer within a few weeks!
Dear Dr. Horton,
Looking back, I know there were many reasons I wanted to enter this field — but with the overwhelming and increasingly hectic nature of medical training and residency, it’s sometimes easy to forget what those were.
I don’t want to become jaded so early in the game, but can feel some of my initial idealism ebbing away and cynicism setting in. What are some ways to remind ourselves of our passion for medicine?
The 10th annual White Coat Warm heART exhibit, which celebrates and showcases the creative talents of medical trainees and practitioners from across Canada, will be held in conjunction with the Canadian Conference on Medical education (CCME) in Niagara Falls from April 13th to 16th, 2019.
Submission is via teachingmedicine.com — in order to have your art considered by the jury, you must register (it's free!) Entries can include, oils, watercolours, photographs, pastels, etchings, pen and ink, etc. Limited space will also be available for the display of small sculptures.
The deadline for submission is Sunday, January 27th by 5 PM PST.