The Successful Match: Oral Communication Skills

Every aspiring physician knows the importance of memorization, especially in the basic science years. As you advance in your career, however, communication skills come to the forefront. Physicians with poor communication skills are more likely to be sued. (Virshup) They are more likely to be disciplined by the medical board. They may not receive as many professional referrals from colleagues or word-of-mouth referrals from patients.
Successful communication requires establishing a connection and imparting a message. Successful patient care does not end with gathering data from your patient. It revolves around imparting that information to the entire team that is involved in patient care: your team members, the consulting physicians, the nurses, the patient and family members, and even the cafeteria, among others. (“The patient’s allergies include a history of anaphylaxis to shrimp.”) Continue reading “The Successful Match: Oral Communication Skills”

Highs and Lows: Bipolar in Medical School

While many medical students struggle to grasp the complexity of mental illness and its management, I’ve experienced it first hand. I hardly had to study psychiatry for Step I – one of the few perks of being a medical student with mental illness.
The first time I was hospitalized for symptoms matching the DSM IV criteria for Bipolar II, a kindly gray haired psychiatrist interviewed me extensively, asking me what had brought me to the hospital, if I felt suicidal, and whether I viewed myself as sick. In the background, three medical students scribbled furiously, brows furrowed as they watched the interview unfold. I picked at the bandages on my arm, noting their short white coats. Continue reading “Highs and Lows: Bipolar in Medical School”

Clinical Clerkship Clues: Family Medicine

For many medical students the family medicine clerkship is one of the more enjoyable rotations of third year. Regardless of your intended specialty, the rotation offers the opportunity to work in the outpatient environment. Since there is no overnight call or required weekend duty on the rotation, there is ample time for reading about the bread-and-butter cases in medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics that make up the core of the clerkship.
Family Medicine can also appear daunting because of its wide scope of practice. For those students completing this clerkship early in their third year – before they have been exposed to some of the other core specialties – seeing pregnant patients, small children, or chronically-ill patients can be intimidating. Continue reading “Clinical Clerkship Clues: Family Medicine”

Family Medicine: Challenges for the Solo Physician

The family physician, in the eyes of many medical students, is a solo physician with a comprehensive practice that treats patients over their entire lifespan. While this type of practice is possible, solo physicians, especially those in urban and suburban areas, are facing many challenges as they try to sustain full-scope solo practice in today’s healthcare climate.
Family medicine was born as a specialty in the early 1970’s in response to the increasing specialization of American physicians following World War II. The number of U.S. physicians who designated themselves as “general practitioners” decreased from 79.2% in 1938 to 17.3% in 1970, while self-designated “specialists” increased from 20.8% to 75.7%1. The specialty was designed to train physicians who would provide general medical services for patients of all ages, and would treat patients in an emotionally supportive manner that was consistent with the values of the patients’ community. Continue reading “Family Medicine: Challenges for the Solo Physician”

Clinical Rotations: Dealing with Conflict

Nearly every medical student, at some point during training, will have a negative encounter with someone higher up on the ladder. One of the most difficult aspects of medical school is the vulnerability of medical students to criticism or disciplinary action due to these types of encounters. These situations can lead to the most dreaded of outcomes – a negative comment in your dean’s letter or file.

Your skills in interacting with others will be put to the test not only with patients, but also with physicians and support staff.  Oftentimes, a perceived offense to the ancillary personnel can be particularly damning, because physicians often have close relationships with these staff members.

This can also work in your favor: getting in the good graces of the rest of the staff can help secure a favorable impression on your supervisors. Remember, some attendings may be quite removed from your daily activities as a medical student. If this is the case, they may count on secondhand reports from other staff members as part of your evaluation. Continue reading “Clinical Rotations: Dealing with Conflict”

Interview: Hal Lippman, DDS [Dental School Assistant Dean]

Hal Lippman, DDS, is the Assistant Dean of Admissions at Nova Southeastern University School of Dental Medicine in sunny Davie, Florida.

Dr. Lippman graduated from New York University School of Dental Medicine in 1975, and completed his general practice residency at the Manhattan V.A. Hospital.

After 32 years in private practice, Dr. Lippman decided to join the team at Nova Southeastern University.

As an Assistant Dean of Admissions, what do you feel is most important in predicting success in dental school?
A big part of predicting future success is past academic history, [and the] depth and breadth of biological science background. We like to see plenty of upper level science classes; this makes transition to the first and second year of dental school a smooth, successful one. Continue reading “Interview: Hal Lippman, DDS [Dental School Assistant Dean]”

20 Questions: William Baker, M.D. [Anesthesiology]

Dr. William Baker is an anesthesiologist working in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Baker was in private practice for 18 years and recently joined the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham as an assistant professor.

Dr. Baker received his medical degree in 1985 from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile and completed an internship at Louisiana State University Medical Center from 1985 to 1986. He did his residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center from 1986 to 1989.

Recently, SDN had a chance to sit down with Dr. Baker and discuss his career and the practice of anesthesiology: Continue reading “20 Questions: William Baker, M.D. [Anesthesiology]”

20 Questions: Dai Chinh Phan, DDS, MS [Maxillofacial Prosthodontics]

Dai Chinh Phan is a staff maxillofacial prosthodontist at the Albuquerque Veterans Administration Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Phan has a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Wichita State University, as well as a DDS from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and a MS in Prosthodontics from Marquette University.

When not assisting patients with the challenges of dental restoration or creating compositions on the piano, Dr. Phan volunteers his time as a valuable contributor to SDN’s Mentor Forum.

In a recent interview, Dr. Phan spoke at length about dentistry, the scope of prosthodontics, and his own unique story of emigrating from Vietnam. Continue reading “20 Questions: Dai Chinh Phan, DDS, MS [Maxillofacial Prosthodontics]”

Steps to get into Dental School

In High School

  • Take a college prep course of study. Include math and the sciences.
  • Talk to your guidance counselor about local people which will give you insight into a dental career:
    Dentists, hygienists, dental assistants or dental laboratory owners.
  • Visit with these people and spend time in their offices. Most of these professionals will be excited to help you.
  • Visit the High School section at SDN to network with peers and get specific advice
  • If you have in mind certain colleges to attend, look on their websites for a pre-professional advising department. There you will find links to course requirement lists for pre-health professions students.

Preparing Yourself In College

  • Follow the pre-health or predental course of study recommended by your college. This will include science requirements – usually biology courses, chemistry and calculus.
  • Check with the dental schools where you want to apply for specific courses they will require for admission. You may need to add some courses to meet a school’s requirements. A degree in science is often not necessary.
  • Find your college’s health professions advising committee or pre-professional advising department. You can start by asking in the Biology Department. This committee will help you to assemble the necessary letters of recommendation and help you complete your application process on schedule.
  • Participate in the SDN Pre-Dental Student and DAT Forums to keep up-to-date on the latest news and advice.
  • You may ask or be assigned a member of the committee to be your predental advisor.
  • Visit your own dentist and ask him or her questions about a career in dentistry. Spend a day in his or her office and see what private practice is all about.
  • Check the Dental Students Network Careers Page for links to the American Dental Association, which provides information on dental careers.

When You Decide To Get Serious

Go to the Checklist

After you’ve read these ideas on how to get into dental school, click here to view the checklist for admission to dental school. Then view these selected links for information about dental school and dental careers.

20 Questions: David C. Hilmers, MD, EE, MPH [Internal Medicine, Pediatrics]

David C. Hilmers, MD, EE, MPH, is as assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, in the Department of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, Section of Academic General Pediatrics.

He attended Baylor College of Medicine, where he received his MD and served his residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, and attended University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health, where he received his MPH.

Hilmers is a fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the American College of Physicians. His research interests include international medicine, humanitarian relief and education, nutrition, tropical diseases, and aerospace medicine.

Before entering the medical profession, Hilmers was a NASA astronaut and flew four missions on the space shuttle, logging almost 500 hours in space. Continue reading “20 Questions: David C. Hilmers, MD, EE, MPH [Internal Medicine, Pediatrics]”