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Med students on how COVID pushed them into action, highlighted health care inequities

It was on a Saturday in mid-March when Abby Schiff, then a third-year medical student at Harvard working through surgery clinical rotations, found out she wouldn’t be going back to the hospital.



a group of people on a sidewalk: Medical student Francis Wright (top left) during a mask drive early on in the pandemic with his classmates (clockwise) India Perez-Urbano, Kara Lau, Lane Epps, Ninad Bhat, Laeesha Cornejo and Hunter Jackson, the last of whom came up with the idea.


© Courtesy Francis Wright
Medical student Francis Wright (top left) during a mask drive early on in the pandemic with his classmates (clockwise) India Perez-Urbano, Kara Lau, Lane Epps, Ninad Bhat, Laeesha Cornejo and Hunter Jackson, the last of whom came up with the idea.

She had worked the day before, but with the coronavirus threat growing quickly, Schiff, like thousands of other medical students across the country, was sidelined when the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a temporary suspension of clinical rotations in hopes of protecting students and patients, and conserving personal protective equipment (PPE).

She didn’t sit around waiting, though. As nurses came out of retirement and medical school professors pressed pause on teaching to answer the call to action on the front lines, Schiff also got to work. Within hours, she and a group of other students started building a crash course on COVID-19 for medical professionals.

“At the time, a lot of Harvard medical students were talking about what was going on, and [it] felt like we suddenly had a lot of time on our hands,” Schiff told ABC News. “There was this crisis going on. How can we best contribute?”



a woman standing in front of a book shelf: Abby Schiff, a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, helped to create the school's COVID-19 curriculum and still keeps it updated on a regular basis.


© ABC News
Abby Schiff, a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, helped to create the school’s COVID-19 curriculum and still keeps it updated on a regular basis.

In less than a week, 70 of Schiff’s colleagues, including students and faculty, had put together a comprehensive, open-source COVID-19 curriculum.

“So we had about 80 pages of content — all referenced, all freely available — including things like thought questions, quiz questions… helpful information about how to put on masks and PPE, run ventilators,” she said. “And then also an explainer about basic epidemiological terms, about sort of the basics of virology and immunology and the clinical manifestations that were known at the time.”

Seven months later, the curriculum is still being updated with the latest science on a regular basis. Today, it includes modules on mental health, global health and communication, all meant to “dispel misinformation and myths,” said Schiff.



graphical user interface, application: Fourth-year Harvard medical student Abby Schiff (second from top left) attends a video meeting with her fellow students to discuss updates to their school's open-source COVID-19 curriculum.


© Courtesy Abby Schiff
Fourth-year Harvard medical student Abby Schiff (second from top left) attends a video meeting with her fellow students to discuss updates to their school’s open-source COVID-19 curriculum.

As co-chair for outreach, she said her role is to reach out to students and groups that are using the curriculum to get an idea of their needs and how they can best be met, as well as recruiting students to contribute. The curriculum has already been implemented in 32 medical schools across the country as either an elective or mandatory course, and it has been translated into 27 languages and used in at least 110 countries, Schiff said.

“It’s had a really wide reach, including in areas where

Med students on how COVID-19 pushed them to take action, highlighted health care inequities

It was on a Saturday in mid-March when Abby Schiff, then a third-year medical student at Harvard working through surgery clinical rotations, found out she wouldn’t be going back to the hospital.

She had worked the day before, but with the coronavirus threat growing quickly, Schiff, like thousands of other medical students across the country, was sidelined when the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a temporary suspension of clinical rotations in hopes of protecting students and patients, and conserving personal protective equipment (PPE).

She didn’t sit around waiting, though. As nurses came out of retirement and medical school professors pressed pause on teaching to answer the call to action on the front lines, Schiff also got to work. Within hours, she and a group of other students started building a crash course on COVID-19 for medical professionals.

“At the time, a lot of Harvard medical students were talking about what was going on, and [it] felt like we suddenly had a lot of time on our hands,” Schiff told ABC News. “There was this crisis going on. How can we best contribute?”

PHOTO: Abby Schiff, a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, helped to create the school's COVID-19 curriculum and still keeps it updated on a regular basis. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Abby Schiff, a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, helped to create the school’s COVID-19 curriculum and still keeps it updated on a regular basis. (ABC News)

In less than a week, 70 of Schiff’s colleagues, including students and faculty, had put together a comprehensive, open-source COVID-19 curriculum.

“So we had about 80 pages of content — all referenced, all freely available — including things like thought questions, quiz questions… helpful information about how to put on masks and PPE, run ventilators,” she said. “And then also an explainer about basic epidemiological terms, about sort of the basics of virology and immunology and the clinical manifestations that were known at the time.”

Seven months later, the curriculum is still being updated with the latest science on a regular basis. Today, it includes modules on mental health, global health and communication, all meant to “dispel misinformation and myths,” said Schiff.

PHOTO: Fourth-year Harvard medical student Abby Schiff (second from top left) attends a video meeting with her fellow students to discuss updates to their school's open-source COVID-19 curriculum. (Courtesy Abby Schiff )
PHOTO: Fourth-year Harvard medical student Abby Schiff (second from top left) attends a video meeting with her fellow students to discuss updates to their school’s open-source COVID-19 curriculum. (Courtesy Abby Schiff )

As co-chair for outreach, she said her role is to reach out to students and groups that are using the curriculum to get an idea of their needs and how they can best be met, as well as recruiting students to contribute. The curriculum has already been implemented in 32 medical schools across the country as either an elective or mandatory course, and it has been translated into 27 languages and used in at least 110 countries, Schiff said.

“It’s had a really wide reach, including in areas where there are fewer resources available,” she said. “In the age of the internet, and especially when there’s something like this pandemic that’s affecting people in every single country and really just upending the structures of knowledge, it’s really important to keep information

Analyzing Trump’s illness is humbling for media’s med teams

NEW YORK (AP) — Here’s an assignment to humble even the most confident doctor: Assess a patient’s condition before millions of people without being able to examine him or see a complete medical chart.

That, in effect, is what medical experts at news organizations have been asked to do since President Donald Trump revealed Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

They have a fine line to walk, needing to decide what level of speculation — if any — that they’re comfortable with, how much to read into medications the president has been prescribed and how to explain the course of a virus so new that it still confounds the people who study it.

“You try to put the pieces of the puzzle together,” said CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who logged hours comparable to his residency days in the wake of Trump’s announcement.

A second or third opinion is only a click away. The question of whether Trump developed COVID 19-related pneumonia is one example of how media experts have differed despite access to the same information.


All would like to see images of Trump’s lungs, but they haven’t been made available. Dr. Vin Gupta (no relation to Sanjay), a pulmonologist who treats coronavirus patients and reports for NBC News, is confident that Trump has pneumonia because the president has had shortness of breath, low oxygen levels in his blood and has COVID-19.

CBS News’ Dr. John LaPook is less definitive, but believes that’s the case “because if he had a chest x-ray and it was normal, they would be shouting it from the rooftops.”

But Dr. Jen Ashton, ABC News’ chief medical correspondent, said that would be “quintessential speculation” because the president’s medical team hasn’t made that diagnosis publicly. His doctors said there were some pulmonary findings on imaging tests, but there are other things that could mean besides pneumonia.

“We don’t know what the findings were, and that is precisely why I didn’t jump to conclusions,” Ashton said.

For Vin Gupta, however, “this is my wheelhouse.

“What might be speculative for another journalist, for me there’s a level of concreteness that I feel exists that I try to pass along,” he said.

Ashton also objects to how some in the media have pinned percentages on Trump’s likely survival. Dr. Martin Makary said on Fox News Channel that Trump had a 99.4 percent chance of surviving COVID-19; CNN’s Gupta said it’s “90 to 95 percent” that he’ll get through.

“This has been very, very challenging,” Ashton said. “The way that I’ve handled this is that I do not speculate. And one of my pet peeves in this story, as it is in all medical media, is when everyone with an ‘MD’ after their name thinks that they can offer inside baseball.”

Imagine the confusion visitors to newsstands in Massachusetts might have felt on Monday. “Trump is improving, doctors say,” was the banner headline on the Wall Street Journal. “Fresh concerns on Trump’s health,” headlined the Boston Globe.

The

Analyzing Trump’s Illness Is Humbling for Media’s Med Teams | Health News

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Media Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Here’s an assignment to humble even the most confident doctor: Assess a patient’s condition before millions of people without being able to examine him or see a complete medical chart.

That, in effect, is what medical experts at news organizations have been asked to do since President Donald Trump revealed Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

They have a fine line to walk, needing to decide what level of speculation — if any — that they’re comfortable with, how much to read into medications the president has been prescribed and how to explain the course of a virus so new that it still confounds the people who study it.

“You try to put the pieces of the puzzle together,” said CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who logged hours comparable to his residency days in the wake of Trump’s announcement.

A second or third opinion is only a click away. The question of whether Trump developed COVID 19-related pneumonia is one example of how media experts have differed despite access to the same information.

All would like to see images of Trump’s lungs, but they haven’t been made available. Dr. Vin Gupta (no relation to Sanjay), a pulmonologist who treats coronavirus patients and reports for NBC News, is confident that Trump has pneumonia because the president has had shortness of breath, low oxygen levels in his blood and has COVID-19.

CBS News’ Dr. John LaPook is less definitive, but believes that’s the case “because if he had a chest x-ray and it was normal, they would be shouting it from the rooftops.”

But Dr. Jen Ashton, ABC News’ chief medical correspondent, said that would be “quintessential speculation” because the president’s medical team hasn’t made that diagnosis publicly. His doctors said there were some pulmonary findings on imaging tests, but there are other things that could mean besides pneumonia.

“We don’t know what the findings were, and that is precisely why I didn’t jump to conclusions,” Ashton said.

For Vin Gupta, however, “this is my wheelhouse.

“What might be speculative for another journalist, for me there’s a level of concreteness that I feel exists that I try to pass along,” he said.

Ashton also objects to how some in the media have pinned percentages on Trump’s likely survival. Dr. Martin Makary said on Fox News Channel that Trump had a 99.4 percent chance of surviving COVID-19; CNN’s Gupta said it’s “90 to 95 percent” that he’ll get through.

“This has been very, very challenging,” Ashton said. “The way that I’ve handled this is that I do not speculate. And one of my pet peeves in this story, as it is in all medical media, is when everyone with an ‘MD’ after their name thinks that they can offer inside baseball.”

Imagine the confusion visitors to newsstands in Massachusetts might have felt on Monday. “Trump is improving, doctors say,” was the banner headline on the Wall Street Journal. “Fresh concerns on Trump’s