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As the weather warms up, flowers start to bloom, and allergies kick in (sigh), it’s fair to say that the flu season is (pretty much) behind us. However, it’s important to understand the financial cost of each flu season.
I got an email from someone at FrugalDad (http://frugaldad.com) with a link to an infographic that very clearly lays out the costs of preventing/treating the flu. What stuck out to me was the pretty significant difference in cost between vaccination versus enduring a bout of the flu and all the costs that can come with it. Bottom line: vaccination not only saves you a lot of the physical agony that can come with suffering from the flu, but it can save you a lot of money as well.
I came across this article in the New York Times about Internet medical practices. It’s something I’ve been very interested in, especially in light of the recent push for health care reform amidst increasing cost of care with fewer doctors available to provide services, notably primary care.
It seems as though medicine has been dogged about maintaining the old ways, and while it embraces technology in the context of new treatments, little has changed as far as the way practices are run. With devices like the iPhone and Android-based phones, with its multitude of apps, some practices have found ways to use these and other technologies to their advantage. This has resulted in automation of many processes that would normally be handled by an army of administrative assistants, cutting costs, and saving time that can then be spent with patients.
While not everything can be done online (auscultation, palpation, neurological tests, etc.), some things such as monitoring blood pressure (as referenced in the article) can be done relatively easily over email. It certainly beats the usual method i.e. go to the clinic, wait for hours, get maybe 10 minutes with your primary care doctor, and maybe a prescription if warranted, all for the sniffles. I find this incredibly frustrating, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. So, if there is a way for me to stay home, communicate with my doctor, and get the same care (if not better), then I’m all for it.
It would be incredibly cool if some of the more specialized areas could also save time by doing some of their tests through an Internet-based medium, as well as implementing similar measures to reduce overhead costs. Of course this would only apply to a few areas, perhaps psychiatry, some aspects of neurology, and select others. Nonetheless, it is worth considering, and perhaps could be done relatively easily, given the ability of devices like the iPhone to be used to monitor things like heart rate already.
What do you all think?
Women doctors have made amazing strides in the field, where only half a century earlier, it was almost exclusively dominated by men. Yet while the doors have opened to women doctors in most aspects, there is one notable exception: motherhood.
My favorite story of women breaking into this, male-dominated field is the one of Agnodice, who disguised herself as a man so that she could study medicine in ancient Greece. Many girls want to grow up to be both well-regarded doctors and wonderful mothers, but it seems that for the most part, they can’t have their cake and eat it too. Men can enter whatever field they want with little consequence, women must make sacrifices. I acknowledge that this seems to be changing, but the pace is still painfully slow.
To paraphrase a professor of mine, the world is still cruel to women. They are encouraged to pursue their career and focus on it with razor sharp focus, while their biological clocks tick away, independent of any aspirations they may develop down the road to start a family. Once the residency and fellowship parade is over (as the case were for aspiring doctors), and a woman is ready to start a family, it may already be too late. I’m all for women being driven and seizing life by the horns, but sometimes the cost is pretty great.
And then, there is me and those like me, who are from immigrant families who insist upon marriage and having at least the first child before age 30. If I am lucky, I will enter medical school at 24, take four years, and enter whatever specialty I can. Depending on what specialty that is, the years devoted to residencies and fellowships may be as low as 3 or as high as 6-7. People can say “Rebel! Blaze your own trail, do what you need to do to get what you want.” Yet in cultures where filial piety is prized and expected, it is far harder to go against the grain, even when your own wishes may be at stake. How does one reconcile cultural and societal obligations with the rigors of medical school/further training?
From what I can gather (and please correct me if I’m wrong) but several residencies tend to not look kindly on women who are pregnant or who have very young children. Each specialty requires a certain number of years of training. It makes sense, of course, that the more high-stakes residencies (for example neurosurgery) would probably require more time to train physicians in that field. Obviously I’d want my neurosurgeon (heaven forbid that I need one) to have had rigorous training. Yet there are 194 certified women neurosurgeons, out of something like 3000 neurosurgeons in total in the U.S. The difference between those numbers is alarming. It’s enough to discourage most women from even entertaining the idea of going down that road, but I’m not like most women. Many women seem to end up vying for the more “family-friendly” positions like family physician or pediatrician, or at least ones that finish up training quickly.
I am not one of those people, I’m aiming for one of the neuro residencies (neurosurgery if I can help it).* I love the complicated nature of the field, and yes, I love the potentially maddening level of stress that’s involved. It’s a field I greatly respect and I want to be a part of, but could potentially be turned away because I want to devote the same kind of attention to my family.
I went to a seminar being conducted at SUNY Downstate, giving advice for medical students as to when they should get married and start families. Literally, the window of opportunity was a few months at best for both, where the birth of a child could potentially set students back a year. Clearly under these restrictions, days-long, traditional Indian weddings are out the window. If I were to get pregnant year 3 or 4, that could be potentially problematic, whereas the first two years were a bit better (but by no means ideal). Heaven forbid you wanted to take care of your child until they were at least more communicative or mobile, and when their fear of strangers was under control (Piagetian child psychology sets this at around 2 years of age). Then perhaps the babysitter could be introduced, if you don’t mind having a babysitter or nanny (I do mind). Children are for many people, a vital part of their lives, and they have the right to get as much time early on with their parents as they can. Yet as far as I can tell, the policy seems to be to leave everything to after you start practicing. That’s great for some people, but others are (still) bound by age-old traditions and (sometimes antiquated though biologically sound) cultural expectations regarding marriage and childbirth.
Hopefully, the domination by men that still seems to be inherent will continue to be addressed, and will encourage more women to live their lives a bit more easily while pursuing their dreams. If any women doctors come across this, I’d love to hear your perspective, given that mine is pretty limited.
*This is all contingent on my getting into medical school. I’m not going to crow about medicine without putting in that little point in there, I’m not in medical school yet. Hopefully I will be soon, gotta take it one step at a time. Even contemplating residencies is a long way off, but it can’t hurt to start contemplating a little now!
I should probably start out by saying I’m not entirely sure what to make of the readiness with which doctors prescribe a pill for anything and everything. This is mostly based on my observations and what I’ve heard. I’m not a doctor (though I want to be) and I’m trying to understand this as best as I can given my relative lack of medical knowledge. Yet my gut instinct is to say that doctors are all too willing to find a condition to fit a pill, or a pill to fit a condition (and for everything else, an antibiotic). This seems to especially be the case with psychiatric conditions. Everyone that’s depressed seems to be prescribed pills. I concede that are some that legitimately need medication in order to function, but for the vast majority, it seems unnecessary.
I’m going to stick with antidepressant/stimulant meds for this one. Fibromyalgia and antibiotics deserve their own post.
Thank you for upholding the integrity and honor that comes with going to Cornell, no matter which part of Cornell. I was in Human Ecology, you were in Agriculture and Life Sciences. Our paying less money per semester does not make us any less of a Cornellian, or any less of an Ivy Leaguer.
I was not aware of Ann Coulter’s comments about your Cornell education, deeming it “the land-grant, non-Ivy League school…” (for those who want to see the full article, go to her website) For the record, Ann Coulter is my least favorite Cornell alum–if the word “favorite” can even be used reasonably to describe her in any regard (like describing a favorite illness?)–falling well below even the oft-maligned Paul Wolfowitz. She is a disgrace to the University, not for her Republican views but for her small-minded approach to the problems that plague our society. She does not consider the other side, it’s her way, or the highway.
Cornell University seeks to promote intelligent dialogue among people from different views (which is the case with most universities I suppose). At Cornell, the Cornell Review and Turn Left (right-wing and left-wing publications, respectively) coexist relatively peacefully. We have a thriving religious works department, and discussion is always encouraged among the different religious groups. Ms. Coulter, meanwhile, killed two birds with one stone in an interview with Beliefnet, by calling liberals “godless” and claiming churches that don’t agree with her “are called mosques.”
I’m not one to be blunt about things, but I’ll make an exception this time. I don’t like her, I think most people who know me are well aware of that (and I think it’s fair so say if she knew me, she wouldn’t like me either, so it’s mutual). I don’t usually complain about the incessant nonsense that seems to emanate from her on a daily basis. Yet hearing this just rubbed me the wrong way.
I am a Cornell graduate. I am not any less qualified than any of my friends from Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Art, Architecture, and Planning, or the School of Hotel Administration. I took most of my classes in Arts and Sciences, since I was pre-med, and the chemistry and physics classes were only offered in Arts. Most of my Cornell career was spent in either Baker or Rockefeller. My freshman writing seminars were in Arts. Some of my humanities requirements were also in Arts. The rest was in Ag or Hum Ec (oh and one elective cross-listed in Engineering). What was the difference between my education and someone in one of the privately-endowed schools? I paid less for my education. I’m a New York State resident, and I went to the College of Human Ecology. In-state residents get a break, something that is definitely not unique to Cornell. Yes I got my Cornell degree, which is proudly sitting on the mantel of my fireplace, at a graduation ceremony where other graduates from all the Cornell colleges were present. We heard the same speech by President Skorton, we sat in front of the same, proud collection of college deans, we all sang the “alma mater.” My state-side college peers and I just did it for around half of what the rest of them paid. Big deal. I am no less of a Cornellian than anyone else, past, present, or future.
So thank you Keith for standing up for the rest of the Cornellians from Ag, Hum Ec, and ILR.
I’m calling on all Cornell alumnae (and all current Cornellians) to email Ann Coulter expressing your feelings. I don’t care what college you’re from, but stand up for your status as a Cornell alum, regardless of which college you’re from. We’re all Cornellians at the end of the day. Ultimately, that’s all that matters.
This is from a post I did about two months back.
Out of the 18 people that responded (which means the results are not remotely statistically significant), 72% (13 people) believe in using alternative medicine in conjunction with allopathic therapies. 17% (3 people) discounted alternative medicine entirely. 1 person believed in alternative medicine alone and 1 person didn’t realize there was such a thing as alternative medicine (I find that hard to believe).
Nonetheless, it was a fun little poll. More polls to come in future posts!
First, congratulations on the recent birth of your children.
I get that you love children. I can’t think of many people who don’t love children. I get that you wanted to be a mother. That is the dream of most girls. Didn’t you achieve that dream after the first two or three children?
I don’t know what mental force drove you towards having fourteen children, that too, all by in-vitro fertilization. Each treatment involves a whole series of hormones that can cause dramatic mood swings, weight gain, and the very real risk of future infertility. There is certainly nothing wrong with in-vitro fertilization as an option for having children. However, as a patient who has suffered from depression, how could you subject yourself to that after already giving birth to the first few children?
Did you even consider what a house of fourteen children–ranging from the days-old octuplets to a seven-year old–would actually be like? Babies are a handful as it is, requiring round-the-clock care. Multiply that by eight, then add a few toddlers and young children who will all be vying for your attention. There will be screaming, there will be crying, there will be tantrums, messes, homework, trips to and from school, the doctor, and then just the day-to-day chores and errands.
You are a single mother, collecting disability payments as your only source of income. You were on the way to getting your masters, but dropped that part of the way to have more children. Your parents have taken care of your children thus far, but they can’t handle eight more. Even with a nanny, it is still a formidable task. There is nothing wrong with being a single mother–something that our society definitely understands, though you claim otherwise–but a single mother with fourteen children is a cause for concern. Even a mother with a strong support system with that many children raises a few red flags.
Have you considered how much it will cost to raise all of them to adulthood? It has been calculated to be around $200,000 per child. Multiply that by 14. Have you considered that they may go to college? The cost of tuition is only going up. Throw in at least another $10,000 per year, per child. You get the idea.
What were you thinking?
You may want to be a mother, but I think you are more in love with the idea of being a mother than the actual task of motherhood, with all its bells and whistles. You are probably in love with the idea of having children, which is in some ways, you may view as a validation of your femininity, especially after suffering previous miscarriages. Yes, you claim you will be at the disposal of all of your children, that you will give them your attention, and your love. Yet I’m not totally convinced that you know that motherhood involves a lot more than just unconditional love. Motherhood is not easy. It is something to love, but it is certainly not easy even with one child, let alone fourteen.
Please consider the gargantuan task ahead of you, and do what you need to do to ensure the best future for your children. We’re all rooting for you.