All of this and no recess?

April 18, 2007 at 9:18 pm (1st and 2nd year)

My biggest complaint of medical school so far is all of the busy work. I’ve had to write three reports within the past three days on everything from my feelings on alternative and complementary medicine, a presentation on obesity as I would give it to a lay audience for preventive health week, and a patient write-up for preparation for 3rd year—as if I won’t get enough opportunities to do patient write-ups in the near future. Add to these assignments never ending PowerPoint presentations for my PBL class and today’s surprise assignment of writing an essay on sex in media, and you’ll soon see why I’m constantly frustrated with school. I should be studying for boards right now, not doing reaction papers as if I’m in elementary school. Then an epiphany hit me: medical school is a lot like elementary school.

The author of medschoolhell has already mentioned the busy work that happens in med school: go yonder and stand here, and at this time go there and hold these retractors. What’s next, writing 100 times, “I will not talk in class?” From my point of view, if we’re going to be treated like small children, we should at least have the perks. I demand 20 minutes of recess every day so that I can climb on the monkey bars. I also want nap time in the afternoon.

As part of the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) health fair, we were given patient scenarios and asked how we would use CAM to help the patient. My case dealt with an older gentleman with chronic leg pain. After visiting the Scenar booth, I wrote the following real report:

According to the “doctors” touting this device, the Scenar uses electrical pulses to activate the C fibers, thereby forcing the brain to respond to that area. According to one website, the Scenar is “cheap and effective against almost any condition, from treat sports injuries, strokes, angina, acute infections, back pains and irritable bowel disease (as well as pre-menstrual tension and post-surgical complications) and even defibrillating hearts!” I tested the device for myself for my chronic shoulder pain. While I did feel electrical pulses—and I’m sure that it could relieve pain acutely—my pain returned the next day. I could not get the presenter to give a substantial explanation for how the devices works. He mucked up the description of electronics, could not point to any published reports, and would not even give me a cost for each treatment.

I did a PubMed search and found only two published reports have ever been written on the device. Unfortunately, both of the papers were in Russian. I found Scenars for sell on eBay, ranging in price from $500-$2,000, depending on the features. Overall, I would call the device a scam.

I would recommend electrical pulse therapy to this patient if he were willing to give it a try. However, given the chronicity of his pain, he may have to go on a Neurontin regiment to take care of his aches. If nothing else, I have a Taser that the patient could use. It has electrical impulses, too. I’ve shocked myself before and, after the initial sting, my shoulder felt pretty good afterward.

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