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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Defining Death

In my Biomedical Ethics class we talk a lot about death, and how it is defined; though no one can ever seem to truly define it in a way that can be agreed upon. There are a few different theories: higher-brained death, whole-brained death, and cardiopulmonary. Higher-brained also being known as "loss of person-hood", is when the higher functions of the brain cease, yet there still is some brain function. Whole-brained death being when all brain function stops, and lastly, cardiopulmonary being when heart and lung function fail.  New Jersey is one of the only states that does not oblige by the whole-brained standard of death.

As medical professionals we are instructed to form our own ethics and morals and utilized them in the practice of medicine, we are supposed to do no harm, and to help people to the best of our ability. Though, how are we supposed to conform to a definition of death when every person we treat is different? How are we supposed to know when to disagree with the family's decision because we know it isn't what the patient would want/ we know that it isn't what is best for the patient? As medical professionals instructed to do know harm and to do whatever it takes to help a patient, how are we supposed to decide for that particular patient if they would consider themselves dead or not? Are we supposed to trust a family that for all we know wants to "pull the plug" to gain an inheritance (or some other unknown motive)? Also, if you do not believe in the whole-brain standard of death, are you supposed to sacrifice your moral code?

Over the past few years, specifically while completing my patient contact hours, I have come up with a pretty set-in-stone morality that I believe in, and from what I have been taught I should not compromise that because my moral code is what makes me the future medical professional that I am/will be. Luckily, I do believe in the whole-brain standard of death, though I also believe in doing what is right for the patient and honoring their wishes. At the moment, I am conflicted between these beliefs, what am I supposed to do when not all ethics can be honored?

I know that I will ALWAYS, undoubtedly, honor the patients wishes, and I will fight for the patient if their is a discrepancy with their wishes; especially since I want to work in pediatrics and the child's wants are often forgotten. Is there anything else, as a medical professional, that I could do?

What is your opinion on defining death and upholding personal moral ethics while giving the patient what they want and obliging to state legislation?

Is there any advice for future medical professionals?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This Week's Health Post: Cell Phones

As most of you know there has been a lot of talk about cell phones causing health issues, or, at least being related to them. So, I decided to do some research and just present both sides of the story.

According to Earthcalm, the reason cell phones, as well as other technological forms, cause health issues is because it throws off the nature electromagnetic field that we are exposed to as human beings. The Earth has a natural electromagnetic field, and being exposed to technology creates an unnatural electromagnetic field. From what I have read, research seems to believe that certain diseases may be more prevalent in today's society due to this.

Though, the Food and Drug Administration says that they do not like cell phones with health issues. They say that hundreds of studies have been done, and some did show some evidence but could not be replicated. Proving that there is little, to no, correlation between the two. The electromagnetic frequencies from cell phones is not high enough to effect human beings, unlike x-rays and gamma rays, etc. 

Personally, I can see both points of view, which is why I decided to just simply state both sides of the story. To read more on these stories, please read their full articles at:



What is your personal opinion?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” - Wallace Stevens

Today was absolutely beautiful; while I was at work in between bathing patients, my friend Becca (another Pre-PA student) text-ed me and asked me to run around the lake with her (it totals roughly 4 miles). Since I go to the gym every day anyway, I decided this would be my work out, especially with the beauty surrounding us outside today. Unfortunately, we forgot to stretch before we took off down the unevenly paved path. It was our first time running in an odd temperature, and for myself, the first time running in such a high altitude (we had to basically hike to get to the running point). As we were running we began to notice an odd and very painful sensation in our ears, despite the fact that both of us are always working out and our in quite good shape, we began discussing what could possibly cause the pain in our ears. This is a conversation while running that would most likely never happen unless you have some interest in medicine. The ear pain continued to be a topic of conversation throughout the run and the rest of the day, and it dawned on me; this is what our lives as Pre-PA students should be like right now and hopefully in the future as well. We are totally enthralled with medicine and the human body, but not only that how we can utilize our knowledge for the greater good. Not that I didn't know this before, but it was just one of those "ah-ha" moments where the actual situation you're in reminds you of a simple thought. After coming home and doing some research on the ear sensation, I learned that it seems to be a very common problem among runners when it comes to temperature change; though I could not really find any information stating a cause. Becca and I thought that maybe it had something to do with equilibrium/homeostasis, pressure/blood flow, any thoughts?

Monday, March 15, 2010

"The biggest influences in your life are sitting around you, right now."

     As a Pre-PA student it is known that there is going to be some intense competition to achieve the dream of being a Physician Assistant, but unfortunately I think a lot of students forget how much they can learn from the student's they are in class with and instead, focus on the competition. 
     I heard a quote recently, which is also the title of this entry, "The biggest influences in your life are sitting around you, right now." The moment I heard it, something in my brain just clicked and thought that more students need to try and remember this. Who do you stay up late studying endless hours of material with? Who is always there to eat mounds of delicious food with you in order to de-stress? It is the students you spend most of your daily life with, and it is those students who you learn a great deal from, weather it be educational lessons or life lessons, a lot of what your mind is absorbing is coming from them. 
     Now, I am not suggesting completely forgetting about the competition, a little competition is healthy, and definitely needed when going into a field that puts other's lives on the line. Though, I do not think it is healthy to have this competitive nature of the Pre-PA major to be the focus. If this your focus, your stress level will not only go up from the work load, patient contact hours, and daily living, but it will go up from the basic anxiety of always having to "win." But what are you really winning by focusing on competition? Not much more than an award for highest blood pressure at age 20. 

On this blog I will post random segments from the life of a Pre-Physician Assistant Student; I don't expect for everyone to agree with what I say, and I welcome all comments and feedback (: