Wednesday, December 9, 2009

David and Kevin present some old favorites

Almost 2 years ago, David and I started IDDx with the humble hope of turning this site into a blogging powerhouse that could be our one-way ticket out of the obvious career dead-end that is medicine. Clearly that has not happened. But we have still managed to build (and re-build) a loyal following of readers that have somehow found our inane drivel to be entertaining (or at least interesting in a car crash-y kind of way). We thought this would be an appropriate time to revisit some of our old posts as a kind of year-end-review and maybe serve as a best-of (or worst-of, as the case may be with Jess) list for the newer readers. (Re)Enjoy.

-Kevin and David

Medical student life: A few insights into the fast-paced world of call-taking, baby-saving, and retractor-holding.

David, Robby, Dan, Beth, and the Johns save lives while on vacation.

Kevin wishes these classes were real.

Kevin falls, David watches.

Pre-medical advice: Words from the arguably wise about facing the application gauntlet.  

David tells you what to do (in an admissions interview).

Kevin debunks 2 myths about med school.

David presents the 15-15-1 theory.

Comics: Only stick figures can provide a true window into the inner med student soul.

MCAT - Then and Now

OB exams are tricky

Ideal vs. Reality - Emergency Medicine

Guest authorsWho's better - Julia, Jess, Julia, or Julia? You decide.

Julia knows exactly the kind of doctor she will become.

Jess tries to reach the keeds.

Julia presents a landmark case of PMS.

Random thoughts, pet peeves, and theories about life: A potpourri of IDDx musings.

David Presents His #2 Pet Peeve: Considers It Tomorrow At Midnight Guy

David has difficulty with doors.

Kevin contemplates the diet of the Little Mermaid

Friday, December 4, 2009

David treats a wise child

During a recent shift at a pediatric urgent care center, a young boy came in with a scald burn to his arm. As I debrided his wound, we discussed some of the pressing issues of youth, including how awesome dinosaurs are and whether or not mall Santas are real (consensus: of course they are). All of 5 years old, he was a total fighter and didn't complain one bit throughout the procedure. 

After a heated debate about how fast Spot runs - we both said some things we didn't mean - the following exchange occurred:


David: This must've been pretty scary, but you've been doing great.

Kid: Hey, I'm not scared of anything. 

David: Nothing? Really (unsure whether or not to entrust him with my fear of clowns)? That's pretty impressive.

Kid: Nope, nothing...

        ...except bush babies.


Mildly confused about what he was taking about, I allowed the conversation to shift, and soon he was all fixed up and on his way home. Later, a quick Google search provided the images that will give me night terrors for the rest of my natural life.

Wise choice, kid...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kevin might save babies like it's his job

The next installment of our career choice series.

3 reasons to do pediatrics
1. Congenital disease is fascinating
The magical journey from fish-like zygote to full blown baby is fraught with wrong turns and side streets to the bad part of town. Sometimes what comes out of the oven isn't what you expect. While most adult medicine follows some kind of logical pathology and things often dont stray too far from the norm, the presentation of congenital disease can be so bizarre it boggles the mind. Situs inversus (your insides are backwards), lissencephaly (your brain is flat), Transposition of the Great Vessels (your aorta and pulmonary artery are plugged into the wrong ends of the heart) are just a taste of some of the things you see as a pediatric specialist. A lot more interesting than COPD or diabeetus.

2. Plenty of subspecialties to suit your fancy
This is likely personal to me but during the first two years of medical school I always pictured pediatrics as a primary care residency with no subspecialty tracks. “Well where do pediatrics cardiologists come from?” you might ask. For some reason I thought you got there through internal medicine, cardiology then a fellowship in pediatric cardiology. Clearly I’m an idiot (but hopefully someone out there on the interweb is with me). In reality pediatrics is just like internal medicine, except you treat little people. This also means there’s a huge range of subspecialties to choose from, and as I mentioned in point #1, you get to focus on a lot of congenital malformations rather than the end result of a lifetime of self-neglect.

3. Saving lives (no seriously)
Adult medicine often revolves around management of chronic disease. Patients undergoing slow, methodical heart failure/COPD/diabetes/lupus(sometimes it is lupus), are never fully cured. The best you can do is manage their symptoms in order to extend/improve their quality of life. On the other hand, pediatrics is full of one-off illnesses that you can definitively treat and they can be on their merry way. Back when medical school was only 1-semester long and involved memorizing the 4-humors, congenital malformations was often a death sentence. Fortunately, we've come a long ways from then and there's a myriad of treatments for what ails children. You have a giant septal heart defect? No problem. Bowels outside the abdomen rather than inside? Just shove that right back in there. As a pediatrician you're really making a huge impact in the "total # of years saved" category. If there was a MD fantasy league, you'd want at least 1 pediatrician to pad those stats.

3 reasons to avoid pediatrics
1. Bad logistics
Unlike what your career counselor might have told you, you should never choose a career just because you like the subject matter. Every field has pros and cons in terms of call structure, location constraints, average salary etc etc that are all vital in making an informed career decision. For example, if you love cardiology but are on the fence on whether to treat big hearts or little hearts, here are some things to consider before you devote yourself to baby saving. Despite all my talk about congenital disease, kids are actually pretty healthy. And being healthy is bad for business. Because of the low demand, you will also make less money than your adult-caring counterparts. So do you really love congenital disease so much that you're willing to take a $100,000/yr pay cut? Furthermore, there are significantly less pediatric specialists than there are adult specialists. Because there simply isnt as many you, your group will be small, which is synonymous with lots and lots of call. What this also means is that there isnt a need for a pediatric neurologist in every town. If you want to subspecialize in pediatrics, you're almost guaranteed to be forced into a large-ish city in order to field the necessary amount of patients to stay afloat. Sorry, no country livin' for you.

2. Noncompliant patientsparents.
When I asked a lot of pediatricians why they decided to do pediatrics and not internal medicine, they often cited that they were frustrated by noncompliant patients such as COPD'ers that kept smoking or CAD'ers that kept eating McDonalds. For some reason, I have no problem with that. As long as the check clears, I dont care what you do. My job is to give you the knowledge, services and tools to allow you to live a healthy productive life. If you refuse, so be it. In pediatrics, the kids barely know what's going on so the work falls on the parents to follow through with the care plan. In this case, noncompliance by the parents means the kid is getting hurt. This I have a problem with. Even though CPS can step in during extreme cases, theres a huge gamut of noncompliance where you really can't do anything even though you really want to punch them in the head.

3. Child abuse
During my peds rotation I had the displeasure of seeing 3 child abuse patients. One of was severely overfed, one was severely underfed and the 3rd was an infant that had a broken femur and two broken clavicles. Obviously by ferreting out child abuse you're saving the child, but it's still a terrible thing to be a part of. Seeing that on a regular basis can be a real drain on the mental psyche.