My Elective Rotation at a Poison Control Center

My Elective Rotation at a Poison Control Center

I just finished a two week elective at a poison control center and it was such a unique experience. I learned SO much – and not just medical management of common poisonings, but also some public health knowledge and that poison control is a fantastic (and underutilized) resource for medical professionals! I’m not sure how common this is as a rotation, but if your school offers it, I would recommend it. I’m lucky that one of the three poison control centers (PCC) in Florida is located on my medical school campus.

There are 55 PCC’s spread around the United States and they pick up the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to give FREE advice and management direction. And they all use a single national hotline number – 1 (800) 222-1222. The only thing to note is that currently, it will direct you to the PCC that is geographically closely to the area code you are calling from, so if you live in one state but have a cell phone area code from another state, this might be the one time to use a landline!

Before I started this rotation, I had two ideas in mind for when someone would call poison control – when their child drank bleach or if they got bit by a snake.

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Health Policy Happenings, 10.29.21

Health Policy Happenings, 10.29.21

We made it to Friday…not so sure about the Build Back Better spending/reconciliation bill. I don’t know what is happening in Washington, D.C. but it is making me want to bang my head against a wall. Anyone else feeling that way!? I’m trying not to get my hopes up for literally anything being included until we see that final bill passed. There was some text released from the House yesterday but honestly, who knows what’s going to happen with it. So this HPH is going to be on the shorter side, since so much of what I was going to share is already outdated…I’ve still got some reconciliation updates, but just keep the ever evolving nature of it in mind.

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What is Public Health?

What is Public Health?

Let’s start out by dispelling the misconception that physicians are trained in public health and therefore should be consulted as experts during public health crises. For the most part, this is NOT TRUE. Physicians are trained to provide medical care – to diagnose, treat, and manage individual health problems. While some medical schools do teach epidemiology (the science of public health), it is not enough to head out into the world as a public health professional. If you’re a physician with a Master of Public Health (like I will be!), then you certainly have more credibility to speak on matters of public health as a physician. And the reverse is true as well – experts in public health who did not go to medical school are not doctors! The medical and public health professions need to work together beyond times of crisis and both need to be consulted by policy makers. Doctors alone should not be asked how to contain a pandemic – simply put, we are not trained to give that advice.

So, let’s get into it. What exactly is public health?

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Sunshine, Ocean Views, & Not Enough Doctors

The Florida Keys usually conjures up images of sunshine, ocean breezes, and copious cocktails. But beyond the vacationers paradise, there is the reality of life in the Keys – and needing access to health care.

Across the 137 square mile archipelago, there are only 266 health care providers for 74,000 residents (and 2.25 million annual visitors). The Florida Keys has a serious shortage of health care providers and services.

There are two main types of shortage designations, as determined by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).

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Improving Quality of Care for End-Stage Renal Disease

Improving Quality of Care for End-Stage Renal Disease

I spent this rainy morning shadowing a pediatric nephrologist, the specialists for kidney function in kids. The number of conditions they see is vast, but each has a unique course and some can progress to renal failure, even with medical intervention.

Chronic renal failure is the result of slowly progressive kidney diseases (and it not often reversible). 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease — the two main causes of CKD in the adult population are diabetes and high blood pressure. In kids, CKD is often associated with inherited disorders, malformations present at birth, and autoimmune diseases, to name just a few.

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Access to Health Care Isn’t Enough

Access to Health Care Isn’t Enough

We’re well into the 2020 presidential election cycle and there are a lot of health care proposals floating around. Most of them want to increase access to insurance and some have a plan to reduce the cost of care. But unfortunately, universal access to health insurance does not equate to health equity or better health outcomes. Health care systems are designed to handle individual medical needs, not the most critical causes of poor health – socioeconomic factors. In the United States, the development and provision of health care has fundamentally misunderstood what health is and what it requires.

A 2017 study in Health Affairs conveyed that the U.S. has one of the largest income-based health disparities in the world. Among the poorest third of Americans in the study, 38.2 percent reported being in “fair or poor health,” compared with 12.3 percent of the richest third. Most of the nations studied had an income-based health disparity, with the exception of Japan and Switzerland.

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Podcasts for All Your Health Policy + Medicine Needs

Podcasts for All Your Health Policy + Medicine Needs

I love Monday’s – time to make a new weekly to-do list and the possibilities for what I can accomplish during the week seem endless. (Although I don’t love Monday mornings with an exam as much as Monday’s without exams). Over on Instagram, I’ve been sharing about public health and health policy on Monday’s. I’m trying to make #MPHMonday happen! And I thought it was finally time to migrate some of that fun over to the blog!

I typically listen to podcasts for news or current affairs analysis but I also love them as an opportunity to learn about new topics or fun trends.

Fun fact about me: I actually used to edit two podcasts as part of my job in graduate school! One focused on innovations in emergency medicine and the other centered on improving the quality and value of health care.

I wanted to share some of my public health, health policy, and medicine favorites!

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Things I’m Loving Lately

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a great week. Since I got back from Europe on Wednesday night, I’ve been getting my life back in order (so much laundry) and studying for an exam this afternoon. I’ll have a recap of my days in Barcelona up soon, but in the meantime, here are just a few things I’ve been loving lately!

  • Sara Bareilles’ new album Amidst the Chaos was released this week and I’ve probably already listened to it 40 times. Since her last album, she wrote the music and lyrics for Waitress on Broadway and even starred in the production! I was lucky enough to see her as Jenna and it was magical. Everything she writes is gold and this is no exception. She was the musical guest on SNL last weekend and no lie she sounds the same live as on the recording. That takes serious talent. Go listen now!
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A Glimpse Into My Career Change

A Glimpse Into My Career Change

During my senior year of college, I took a class called Man’s Food, which was a basic nutrition course and it made me question everything I knew about healthy eating. I became a bit too regimented in what I ate for a few months — oatmeal or eggs for breakfast; a sandwich, carrots, and an apple for lunch; and then it was up in the air for dinner– but I lost a good, and needed, 10 pounds. Then I started walking on the treadmill every other day and eventually, ran my first half marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment and also some of the worst physical pain and exhaustion I have ever felt.

Running 13.1 miles in Orlando in October can be brutal — it was still so hot and humid and my longest training runs had been during D.C.’s lovely crisp fall. But I did it, recovered, and then wanted more. I even convinced a group of colleagues to run a half marathon with me! [Yes, we’re still friends!] I eventually reached a point where I started running less and joined a the gym so I could try out Bodypump class, which I learned about years ago from Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers. I went to that class twice a week until I moved to Philadelphia — the first time I took it, I was so sore I couldn’t walk without pain for nearly a week!

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Legal + Legislative Influence on State Vaccination Requirements

Legal + Legislative Influence on State Vaccination Requirements

Quick note: I’m not here to debate vaccines — I am a medical student and public health practitioner and I have read a good deal of scientific evidence on this topic. I firmly believe in the safety, efficacy, and public good of vaccination. My goal with this post is to provide you with some of the legal fundamentals that influence vaccination and the impact of pockets of low immunity on individual and public health.

It’s Wednesday and I’m one day closer to my cardio midterm and to my family visiting for my medical school pinning ceremony next week! For those wondering what a pinning ceremony is, it’s my medical schools’ alternative to a white coat ceremony, which are usually held at medical schools in the fall. I’ll report back after mine, but I assume it will be similar to all the others that occurred around the country back in August– a formal ceremony to officially “coat” us with the white coat we wear for clinical experiences.

Before I dive in to a full day in the library, I wanted to spend a little time on the current measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest. As medical students, we learn how vaccines work and the recommended vaccine schedules for different populations but it’s also important to know the legal and public health issues that influence why state laws vary regarding compulsory vaccination. Let’s use the current measles outbreak as our springboard into this issue.

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