Four Life Lessons from Medical School

Austin and Galveston

After four exciting and formative years, I finally graduated from Harvard Medical School a few weeks ago. Aside from the abundance of bedside manner, physiology, pathophysiology, and procedural skills that I learned, here are the top four life lessons that I took away from the experience:

  1. Stay humble.
  2. Never be afraid to ask questions.
  3. Maintain balance between work and life — it makes both much more enjoyable.
  4. Stay plugged into your supports (faith, family, and friends).

AT

 

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National Museum of African-American History and Culture

NMAAHC

Informative. Inspiring. Architecturally stunning.

These few words truly encapsulate my impression of the Smithsonian’s recently opened National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC). Having gone centuries without any centralized effort to accurately recount the African-American experience from slavery to modern day, the United States government finally took a vital step toward giving permanence to this important part of United States history by creating the NMAAHC.

Whether approaching the museum’s dramatic exterior, walking through its incredibly well-designed corridors, or viewing the plethora of museum exhibits which accurately told the brutal yet uplifting story of African-Americans in the United States, I found the entire experience awe-inspiring. More photos from our visit to the museum can be viewed here.

If you are ever in Washington, D.C., you must go. Entry to the entire museum (which could easily take two days to view in its entirety) is free-of-charge. Information about how to get tickets can be found at the NMAAHC website.

AT

The Syrian War: Nuts and Bolts

In the midst of U.S. election season and the ongoing humanitarian crisis throughout Syria that has displaced millions, I recently began searching for a clear explanation of the historic and unfortunately devastating conflict in Syria which has recently received less and less news coverage (for reasons which will be somewhat resolved on November 8th). After reading multiple articles and watching a multitude of Youtube videos, I found one (below) that comes closest to providing some semblance of an objective explanation of the origin of the conflict and the local parties involved. Of course, in discussion of international involvement within Syria, this video likely did not complete the nearly impossible task of listing every single foreign power which has its hand in the Syrian conflict. That being said, however, I think this is a great overview that can contextualize the conflict which many of us know is occurring, yet remains a topic of much confusion (continued below video).

Of course, any opinions stated in this video do not represent my own, and the Syrian conflict is undoubtedly much more complicated than is shown in this extremely well-made video (but it’s a great place to start). 

Interestingly, an initiative by the WHO called HeRAMS (Health resources and services availability mapping system) aimed to use computer reporting in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Higher Education of the Syrian Arab Republic to provide monthly reports on the status of healthcare facilities within Syria. The most recent HeRAMS report from September 2016 indicated that 45% of hospitals were reported as fully functioning, 30% partially functioning due to equipment/facilities/personnel damage, and 25% were non-functioning. Of note, there is little information provided in these reports about the specific types of damage which was sustained at each hospital and what must remain at a hospital for it to be considered fully functioning. Furthermore, there may be some level of over-reporting of fully functioning hospitals since the data must be reported by two government ministries, who are part of a government that undoubtedly has a stake in not only the Syrian conflict, but also public portrayals of the Syrian conflict as a whole. Nonetheless, even if there is over-reporting of full hospital functionality within HeRAMS reports, the Syrian conflict has clearly had an impact not only on the infrastructure within the country, but also healthcare within the country as a whole.

Of particular interest to me since I will be entering the field of diagnostic radiology very soon is the effect of the conflict on the availability of diagnostic imaging equipment and qualified practitioners to interpret those images. How much are these factors affected during major natural disasters and warfare? How can we build more resilient imaging technologies to avoid such pitfalls in times of disaster or conflict? These are all questions that I hope to learn about over the coming months, and I hope you stay tuned to hear what I find.

AT