Tag: Medicine

The Student-As-a-Customer Model Will Be the End of Academia

More and more colleges and universities are treating students as customers, showing them how to push a button or fill in a formula without teaching them how to think and solve problems. I might be old school, but I’d rather train and mentor my future colleagues instead of just showing students how to push a button.


When I was in high school, I joined a “magnet school” for kids who wanted to go into the medical field. One of the first things that they taught us there was medical terminology. It wasn’t easy to learn what things like “subcutaneous” meant at that time because they were words that we all hardly ever used day-to-day. To make matters harder, a lot of us spoke English as a second language, so these words were even more foreign, even if most of the words were based in Latin and sounded a lot like Spanish.

I remember very clearly how I learned what the suffix “-itis” meant. They showed us a cartoon of a teacher holding tests in her hands and saying, “I test.” What she was saying sounded a lot like -itis, so the narrator of the cartoon said, “Now imagine your teacher in flames.” The cartoon then showed the teacher holding the tests and being covered in flames. From that image of her, I never forgot that -itis is the suffix for “inflammation.” So it amazes me that so many people add -itis to the end of words to mean that it’s a disease, like “freshmanitis” for suffering from being a freshman when it really means an inflammation of the freshman.

The suffix for “having a condition” or “suffering from a condition” is “-osis.” The way I learned that was from a cartoon where a little boy drops an air conditioner on his sister and screams, “Oh, sis!” Get it? We went from “Oh, sis!” to “-osis” to the image of the air “conditioner” on the sister. Thus, I associated the suffix with “a condition.” This went on for weeks, and I learned a lot because of that visual style of teaching us those words.

Of course, not everyone is a visual learner, but visualization and repetition are pretty good ways of learning for most of us.

melanoma cartoon

Some things are more complicated than others. (Comic cartoon via Jorge Muniz at medcomic.com)

The other day, my wife pointed out to me this Kickstarter campaign created by a physician assistant who aim to use his cartoon skills to help students in all medical fields learn about medical conditions. Kickstarter is an online platform for innovators and entrepreneurs to showcase their products and get financial backing straight from the public. (There are some risks associated with some projects, especially the ones that sound too good to be true, so do your due diligence before supporting this or any other project.)

Here’s the link to the Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1881653671/medcomic-the-most-entertaining-way-to-study-medici

As you can see, he uses his excellent cartoon skills and humor to teach some not-so-simple medical terms and even “dives” into explaining infectious disease. I hope you find it in your heart, and wallet, to support this project. I know I will.


Colombia, Day 11

I started telling you about the upcoming lecture, and how I probably ruined a kid’s dreams of being a physician in the United States. But then I somehow went on to tell you about what I’ll do to retire… Oh, and about microscopes and telescopes.

This is the reply of a homeopath who says he can cure Ebola

There’s a discussion online on this article about a group of homeopaths who wanted to go to West Africa and treat people sick with Ebola with homeopathy. For those of you who don’t know what homeopathy is, homeopathy basically boils down to magic. Homeopaths claim that water has “memory” and that you can dilute something beyond the point where any…

When the law, just like the times, needs to change

If there is one thing that I like to think I am is flexible. I don’t like to be set in my ways because I could be wrong and have no way of correcting myself. As Moriarty said in the season finale of the first season of “Sherlock”, “I’m so changeable. It is a weakness with me, but, to be…

The relative risk of population-based studies

Most studies carried out in the research of diseases and medications is carried out at the population level. But the findings of such studies may not always apply to the individual in front of you. So you need to take a few things into account.