Book review: The demon under the microscope by Thomas Hager

Our knowledge about infectious diseases is currently quite exhaustive, but there were times when most people died about infectious diseases. Where scientists tried everything and anything to find a cure. This book is about those scientists and their goal to find a cure for infectious diseases.

The demon under the microscope is a book written by Thomas Hager, the same author who wrote two books about Linus Paulin and the Alchemy of air. Both books that I now have on my reading list. Thomas Hager is one of the few authors who write about the history of science in a comprehensive way.

This specific book talks about finding sulfonamidochrysoidine, the first antibacterial antibiotic on the market. If you’ve read our scientist of the day post last week you’ll know that there were actually three scientists involved in finding sulfanilamide: Gerhard Domagk, Josef Klarer and Mietzsch.  This book talks about all three of them and about the people around them who had either the same or different aspirations and how they influenced each other. Though you might not assume this just by reading the title, there is a big part of this book dedicated to the surrounding of the protagonists. The companies around them but also how world war influenced and shaped them. It also addresses the economical drive of pharmaceuticals and the problems that shaped the pharmaceutical industry.

The demon under the microscope is one of the best books I’ve read so far. The writing style is really easy to read. Since it is a science history book it gives insight in the feelings and emotions of different scientists but still focusses most of the attention to the bigger picture. It’s definitely a longer book than some of the previous books I’ve read but that means that you’ll have more time to enjoy it. Overall it’s a nice book that will definitely appeal to many science students. It’s a mix between chemistry and medicine so it could make a nice gift to any medical/chemistry student.
It’s one of those books that shows that’s a success story without idealizing everything that preceded Prontosil and even after using Prontosil there were still a lot of issues these scientists and their surroundings faced.

I hope you enjoyed this book review. I tried not to spoil the book but I hope that I’ve been able to at least spark your interest. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone out there. Let me know if you’ve read it (or going to read it) in the comments down below!

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe

Scientist of the day

Today I wanted to switch things up and start” scientist of the day”. I will try to do one of these post every once in a while to highlight a scientist who has done remarkable research in the field of medicine.

The first scientist featured in this series is Gerhard Domagk. He was born in 1895 in what is now known as Poland. He studied medicine but the war started and without finishing his degree he volunteered as soldier. When he got injured he ended up in a war hospital where he saw most soldiers die of infection diseases. What really made an impact was that there really was no functional treatment for these diseases. Surgery didn’t always work nor did medication.
After the war he got his degree in medicine and made it his priority to find something that could prevent soldiers dying from these infection diseases. He worked alongside Josef Klarer and Fritz Mietzsch and tested the function of hundreds of molecules in mice and rabbits.
Eventually in 1932 they found a component in red dye that was called sulfamidochrysoïdine which is broken down by the body to sulfanilamide and protected mice against certain types of streps. They named it Prontosil.
What was really unexpected is that it took them 5 years to publish an article talking about the amazing results Prontosil had had in patients because they didn’t know how/why Prontosil functioned which made them quite cautious.
In 1939 Domagk received the nobel price in physiology or medicine. He couldn’t collect this prize because the Nazi-regime considered the Nobel prize to be anti-German. He finally collected the prize in 1947.

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you want to learn more about infection diseases and the history behind them I’d strongly recommend reading ‘the demon under the microscope’ written by Thomas Hager. The book is about many different scientists.

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe

 

Review: compendium geneeskunde

About 7 months ago I wrote a blogpost about ‘Compendium medicine’ on my blog. Some of you might still remember that they started a kickstarter campaign to make an English version of their books. These books are made by two students Romee Snijder and Veerle Smit. Their goal was to make these books in such way that they covered all the material medical students had to learn.

I kept thinking about these books and ended up buying them a while ago. Today I thought I’d share my opinion on these books.

Content
The compendium set consists of four books that that each contain different specialities. All books have the same cover but come in different colors.
Book 1: orange: epidemiology, statistics, health rights, otorhinolaryngology, neurology, ophthalmology, preventive medicine and psychiatry.
Book 2: red: molecular biology, pharmacotherapy, gynaecology and obstretics, clinical genetics, nephrology, social medicine and urology.
Book 3: blue: dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, medical ethics and scientific philosophy, orthopedics and rheumatology.
Book 4: green: pulmonology, cardiovascular medicine, hematology, immunology, medical microbiology and infection prevention, oncology and general diagnostics.

The first thing I noticed about these compendia was the sleek and minimalistic exterior. I absolutely love the white design. The interior of the books is even prettier than it’s exterior. Each chapter starts with a picture that represents a certain specialty. And then has a page with the most important anatomical structures, a page with clinical information is also provided . The structure of these books is honestly just a dream.

The corners of the books have a small symbol representing each specialty which makes it easier to search within specialities.

Quality
These books are all hard-cover books that can be compared to an encyclopedia. The paper is glossy and quite sturdy.
These books cover the medical curriculum and they’re easy to understand. So far I’ve actively used two of these books as an extra source of information on top of my own courses. Everything in this book is explained in such a way that anyone can understand and learn medicine. Most information fits on a few pages which is what the authors and co-authors intended to do and at which they did a terrific job.

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Conclusion
The quality of the books is excellent. I would say that that I find this to be a big achievement for a new book made by students (!) for students. The content of these books covers the most important parts of the medical curriculum. These books are also great when you’re studying because every topic is explained in a simple but exhaustive way.
The books are aesthetically pleasing, the paper is of good quality and the pictures in the book are beautiful. The small details (such as the symbols in the corners of the book) make the difference between these books and others.

So far only Dutch students are able to purchase these books, so if you’re Dutch and you have the opportunity to buy this book, definitely go for it. Belgian students can find them in ‘Acco’ book stores and students from The Netherlands can find them via their university and in book stores. They cost 129€ but they’re well worth their price.

I hope you enjoyed this article! Let me know in the comment section if you’d buy these! Make sure to also show the medical compendium team some love via their social media.
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Lots of love
– A doctor in spe

Medical school 2nd year

I’m halfway through my second year of medicine! My exams are done and I’m going to take a short break before getting into the new semester. I have one week before the second semester starts and though I really hoped that I’d have a week off to do fun things and sleep out my week will consist of finishing a paper. I wanted to talk about this first semester of my second year since it was completely different from first year.

-I learned that first year is a breeze compared to second year. It’s easy to say that now that the two biggest blocks of my entire year are over. To all you first-year students out there, these courses only get bigger every single time.
-Never give up. By now medical school consists of really pushing mental boundaries. Though most people give up, those who persist and don’t give up are the ones that will make anything happen.
-The best tip I’ve ever had was to read all of my courses completely through before exams start. This helped me to at least grasp what I was studying and I had a better total-image of my courses.
-Working consistently throughout the year is really important. If you don’t do this by second year, you’re going to get into trouble. I worked consistently throughout the year and still struggled extremely hard during this exam period.
-Workout, you’ll feel more energized and more focussed.
-Treat yourself to a pampering day. I did this once in the two exam-months we had. It can be quite time consuming, but makes you calmer at the same time. So if you can, pamper yourself.

To all students out there I would also like to say the following: it’s often the things that you struggle with the most that end up being the most rewarding. Try as hard as possible and don’t give up! Hard work always pays off.

Lots of love
A doctor in spe

Funny medical videos

A lot of people think medicine is hard, which yes it is, but medicine can also be a lot of fun! Last year I made two post where I talked about some of the funniest medical videos on the internet and this year I wanted to do another one! So here they are!

1. To catch a gunner

 

2. The life of a gunner

 

3. TIP #4 Gunners

 

I hope you enjoyed these videos. Let me know in the comment section what you thought of them.
For those of you who have already started their exams I wish you guys a lot of luck!!!

Lots of love
A doctor in spe

Junior doctor this is going to hurt: summary and book review

It’s been a while since I’ve done another book review. I read the book ‘Junior doctor, this is going to hurt’ one week ago and the book stayed with me for quite some time. The book was written by Adam Kay, an English gynaecologist. He has written some short diary-type stories about his life as a doctor. This specific book was a Sunday Times bestseller and has received quite some good reviews.

Summary
The book is written in a diary entry style. Every inquiry has a date. The author talks about how the life in a hospital goes, how on one moment he’s still a student and then goes on to have responsibility over someone’s life. The book is raw and honest. Maybe a little too honest at times.
The author describes many cases in which he did what he ought to be right. Staying late after hours, doing overtime, going against his mentors wishes. These are all things that doctors experience on a daily basis but often fear talking about.
The ending however really made an impact. Especially after reading everything the author has gone through, has done.

Opinion
I loved the book but in a way I felt like I was more aware of the lack of compassion for doctors. It’s as if doctors are being pushed into staying late, doing extra work without any communication. There isn’t enough help going from one doctor to another. The ending was quite unexpected and I never expected that even in the worst of situations doctors really don’t have a safety net.
The reason why I loved the book, was the author himself who was able to let his personality shine through. The diary style writing just put more emphasize on how ‘close’ you actually get to the author. It was because of the connection you got with the author, that the ending just made it more painful.
The book made a political point towards the NHS. So I’d specifically recommend this to English medical students as health systems vary across countries.

I hope you liked this book review. Definitely go out and read this book you will not regret it! It’s a book that comes closest to the life in a hospital. It shows the good and the bad times. Also let me know in the comment section what books you’ve liked in 2018.

Lots of love
-M. A doctor in spe

Make your own planner!

Happy new year everyone! To make sure that you start your new year the right way I wanted to inspire you guys to make your own planner! When I wanted to start planning (aka first year of university) I didn’t know where to start because there were so many different types of planners out there. I decided to make my own planner a few years ago and today I wanted to help you guys create yours.

Today I’ll explain you how to make your planner from scratch! You can choose to use a binder as a planner or if you only want to learn how to make printables skip number 1.

1 Choose a binder.
I bought a clear A5 binder because it was easy and quite minimalistic. They’re also durable and come in many different colors and patterns. The best part about these is that you can reuse them instead of buying a new planner every year. Mine looks a bit worn out but that’s because I’ve been using it for quite a while now!

2 Printables
I’ve tried using different types of printables but I never managed to keep everything in order. I printed out my class schedule on A5 paper and used that as my planner. Even though it’s not the prettiest planner layout, it’s honestly very convenient.

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If however you have some spare time on your hands, make your own printables. It does take quite some time, but they will be completely to your liking.

To help you out I found this video from Mariana who made planner printables on Word. There are a lot of other videos out there so you can always check those out too!

 

3 Page dividers
I ended up finding some clear page dividers at home and I used these for my own planner but if you love getting creative you can follow the instructions in this video.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Let me know if you’ve made your own planner or just bought one in the comments down below!

Lots of love
-A Doctor in spe 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Happy new year!

I wanted to wish all of you a very happy new year and take time to thank each and every single one of you, my readers, for becoming a part of this journey. As for the journey itself 2017 has been more than I could ever dream of! As you might remember I did a one year anniversary blogpost where I talked about the amazing opportunities I got this year and today I wanted to highlight some of the best blogposts published in 2017.

The best blogposts of 2017

  1. Medical tag
    One of my biggest accomplishments this year was creating the medical tag which has been done by many medical and premedical students all over the world. You can find videos about the medical tag on youtube, wordpress and bloggr. I’m just mindblown!
  2. World mental health day
    This year I also wrote about mental health which is an issue a lot of people face with but never really follow up on. I urge you to take mental health issues seriously and go see a professional! You should never be alone when facing issues with your mental health!
  3. Medical compendium
    You might have seen this on my instagram page but these amazing books were published not long ago. They contain the essence of medicine. Currently they’re only available in Dutch but they might be available in other languages in the future.
  4. Book review: the subtle art of not giving a fuck
    Some people might remember this as I’ve recommended this book to everyone I know! It’s about living your life and not caring about other peoples opinions. A must read!
  5. Cold shower challenge
    Quite surprised that you guys liked this post so much! The cold shower challenge was fun to. It has many health benefits such as better focus, better metabolism, better immune system. This would be a great new years resolution!

This includes 2017! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and I wish you and your families an amazing and extraordinary 2018 filled with happiness and courage. Remember that you have the power to make anything you want happen if you put your mind to it!

Happy new year to you all and lots of love!
–  A doctor in spe!

Medical article databases

One of the most important fields in medicine is research. This should come as no surprise as there’s still so much to learn about the human body and disorders related to it. As a medical student it’s extremely important to stay up to date and read in on these subjects and to learn more about the (r)evolutions in our health system.
There are a lot of databases where you’ll be able to find articles on medical research and today I’ll be talking about the best general databases.

1. Google Scholar

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Google scholar is most definitely the best way to find the most scientific articles on any subject. You’ll be able to view the number of citations (a value to determine the impact) as well as the journal where the article was published and the publication year.
There is one thing I dislike about using google scholar. The filter system is quite impractical. Nevertheless you’ll be able to find a lot of articles extending over many different scientific topics. Google scholar will also show the number of citations, journal where the article was published and the publication year.

2. PubMed

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PubMed has a lot of different features and therefore learning how to work with the system is a challenge on itself. You’ll have to navigate your way around MeSH-terms and the search builder, subject topics etc, however when you finally know how to work with it, it’s actually a pretty nice database to work with.
You will definitely not find as many articles as you would in Google Scholar, however there is a good amount of articles that are closely related to your topic of choice. The filters are easy to use and will help you to narrow your topic down more clearly.

3. Embase
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One of the more esthetically pleasing databases is Embase (yes, I really like Embase). It’s easy to use and works similar to PubMed but you search via Emtree terms instead of MeSH terms. You can view your previous search inquiries and the amount of articles related to it.

4. Extra
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I also wanted to talk about Web of science where you’ll be able to find the impact factor, the number of citations. This is an easy way to have an overview on the importance of your article as well as the journal it was published in.

P.S. I prefer to use general databases as they offer a great variation of articles but if you only want to read the most important articles on certain subjects you might want to take a look at different options such as Medline, TRIP, Cochrane etc.

I hope you enjoyed this article! Let me know what sources you turn to to find scientific articles.

Lots of love
-M. Doctor in spe

 

The importance of blood donation

Blood donation is one of the most important necessities in a hospital. Donated blood has many uses. It can be used in standard procedures or it can be used in ambulant help. Even though it’s on of the biggest necessities a lack of blood donors still occurs in many different countries.

Why is it important to donate blood?
It’s used in many surgeries, even in accidents people are often in need of blood which is provided by blood donors. Due to various reasons people don’t want to give blood or they’re not allowed to give blood. This can cause a lack of blood donors and therefore a deficit in blood supplies. Giving blood keeps the chain going and is therefore important!

Who can donate blood?
People aged 17-66 and have a BMI within range can donate blood. Before the blood donation you’ll see a doctor who will ask you some questions about your health. This is to make sure that the blood you’re donating is ‘clean’.
There are a lot of rules that need to be taken into account before giving blood. Depending on where you’re giving blood you’ll be able to check the conditions online.

Note: if you’re not able to donate blood, you might still be able to donate blood plasma as it doesn’t contain red blood cells. Blood plasma is then used to treat people with coagulation diseases.

Where to donate blood? 
There are donation centers where you’ll be able to donate blood. You could also donate blood to a local hospital.
In America there are two main blood donation centers the ‘American red cross’ and ‘America’s blood centers’ where you can donate blood. In the U.K. the blood donation happens via NHS.

I hope that I’ve informed you about blood donation. As usual make sure to check with your GP before donating blood. This is to make sure that you’re not harming yourself or someone else by donating.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know if you’ve donated blood before in the comments down below!

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe