Thursday, November 3, 2011

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

There's a lot going on this week. And I'm not even talking about the First Years' anatomy exam. So please, bear with me, and at least skim through to the end.

First: Residencies. More medical schools + expanding medical school classes + proposed decrease in funding for graduate medical education = Not good for any of us. Do your future MD-self a favor, and go to this website to urge your congressperson to protect GME funding. All you have to do is type your name, address (it's a secured AAMC site) and click submit. If you're feeling more intrepid, check out the unofficial MSSNY-MSS website "The.Hidden.Curriculum," which is featuring a post on misconceptions about residency. It's worth a read.

Second: This part is going to get a little angry. (Feel free to skim, but it might be fun to experience my ire.) If you've read the more commentary-ful blogs on here before, or if you've met me, or if you decide to stereotype my values by my community health background and health care worker designation (correctly so, by the way), you'd know that I really, really hate anti-vaccine propaganda. I understand that that one MMR-autism article was rescinded by the author -- but how much of the general population does? Once information is out there -- especially information that broadcasts child illness -- it cannot and does not go away. I was just peering through Facebook, as I am wont to do, and saw an AMA-MSS update ("Like" their page here) that Delta Airlines is running anti-vaccine commercials during their in-flight entertainment. It's sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center, whose website at publication discusses Vaccine Awareness Week. KevinMD's blog posted a great reaction to this and other anti-flu shot slander -- recognizing that everything has the potential for adverse effects, but the benefits far, far outweigh the risks. Especially when the risks are so infrequent.

Which brings me back to UB. This week, UB is running free flu clinics for all affiliated students and staff. That means that YOU should get your flu shot tomorrow in the BEB atrium between 9 am and 3 pm (your anatomy exam does not extend that entire time). Unless you have medical reasons to abstain from the vaccine, I can't imagine a good reason you can have. As a medical student (target demo here), you have a responsibility to your patients to NOT GET THEM SICK and to yourself to NOT GET SICK. Imagine getting the flu three days before the NEXT anatomy exam. Or going into preceptor in January feeling a little under the weather, and taking a history from an older patient undergoing chemotherapy. The MMWRs for the last forever have shown that flu season peaks around Valentine's Day. Not December, and not January. Lots of opportunities to get sick. Get your shot now.

Also, if you've made it this far, really go to the AAMC site to urge your congressperson to protect GME funding. Otherwise, your future MD-self may be unemployed. And that guilt is far more powerful than mine convincing you to get a flu shot.

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