Hello and welcome.
If you are one of the few who have been following my blog since last year then you may be aware of a certain promise that has yet to be fulfilled... That promise is of a new set of schematic images similar to my Arterial Schematic that seems to have gained some popularity on Meducation.
The truth of the matter is that I have actually been working on a separate project since finishing my finals. This separate project has involved making the website and doing some of the design work for 'Anatomy For Life,' an exciting medically-related charity art auction and exhibition. The event is due to be held in Brighton (venue TBC) during National Transplant week (8-14th July) to help raise money for organ donation and body donation via the charity; 'Live Life Then Give Life'.
Where you come in...
The exciting thing about the Anatomy For Life (AFL) art auction is that we are looking for everyone and anyone to donate. It doesn't matter if you get usually get paid £1,000 per drawing or if you haven't picked up a paintbrush since school. Each and every donation will be displayed on a level playing field, giving the unique opportunity for amateurs to pitch up against the professional medical illustrators out there and vice versa! As long as the artwork donated fits the criteria below you have free reign:
Artwork submitted must be (at least loosely) associated with the 'Anatomy' theme.
Artwork submitted must be on roughly A6 card (4"x6"). The AFL team recommend a paper weight of 250gsm or above.
Create your artwork using any art media you choose on/with the A6 card.
Sign the BACK of your masterpiece, but not the front*
Donations should be received by the 17th June 2013
*The AFL team will be exhibiting the art work shown and running the auction anonymously. Artists will not be attributed to their donations until after the event via our online gallery.
Once you have completed you artwork(s) you should fill out our downloadable information form and provide us with your name, a short bio about you and what inspired your donated artwork. You can also let us know if you want the AFL team to e-mail you a certificate in recognition of your contribution!
Organ donation is the act of donating ones organs or tissues to help save someone else's life after your own passing. One person can donate enough organs to save several peoples lives, which in the minds of many is a truly admirable feat! Body donation usually refers to the act of donating ones own body to medical education, so that students may continue to learn the real-life anatomy that forms part of becoming a competent doctor or surgeon.
Organ donation is currently on the rise in the U.K thanks to the fantastic work of the Organ Donor Register and the charities that support organ donation such as 'Live Life Then Give Life'. However, the U.K still has one of the highest family-refusal rates in Europe for organ donation. It is hoped that by raising awareness of the benefits of organ donation this refusal rate can be reduced either by more people being registered organ donors or by families having more access to information about the topic.
We really want to hear from you...
If you have something you think might benefit our project please do let us know!
Go To Our Main Website
Donate Artwork to Us!
Tweet to Us on Twitter
Like Us on Facebook
Thats all folks,
What's the problem?
Since I first started working with doctors, one of the main complaints I've heard is about electronic portfolios:
"It's so slow",
"It's really ugly",
"It's basically unusable",
"It crashed the day before submissions!",
"It's SO unintuitive"
I've heard all of these things from different doctors at different stages in different specialities in different locations. Write a tweet about ePortfolio and the odds are you'll have it retweeted and replied to numerous times within minutes. There's clearly a real problem here, and a real frustration among doctors!
What's the Solution?
Over the last two years I've spent lots of time talking to a variety of doctors about this and have come to the conclusion that a new modern, robust solution is needed. We need software that is fresh and intuitive to use, that doesn't get overloaded and that has the features that people actually want!
The Meducation team agrees, and so we've partnered up with our friends at Podmedics to make this a reality. We are making oPortfolio - the Open Portfolio - an open-source system guided by the needs of the trusts, deanaries and colleges, but with a firm focus on the doctors who will be using it. Over the next few days we'll be launching a kickstarter project to let you support what we're doing. In the meantime, please sign up on our website to receive updates about what we're doing!
I would like to say "well done, Mark Zuckerberg" as Facebook tops 1 billion active users! But all this is while 1 billion people in the world never see a health worker in their entire lives.
The internet is the most powerful tool of our generation and there is no doubt that its influence will increase further in the future. I think we can all recognise the success of an enterprise such as Facebook and it is certainly a commendable feat to bring 1 billion people closer together on a regular basis. Well done Mark Zuckerberg!
But does this not highlight some bigger questions? When will we see the internet making a real difference?
I don't mean to belittle any enterprise such as Facebook which excites and energises a huge community, but when will we see a movement that has such an impact to save and improve billions of lives every month?
The WHO Global Health Workforce Alliance estimates that there are a billion people alive today who will never see a health worker in their lives... Ever! We are not short of the tools to change this.
So, how will this movement come about? Will it be a political push? Will it be an established company that walks in the 'right' direction? Or could it come from the grassroots?
I believe this is one of the greatest challenges of our generation, and the most exciting challenge I can think of. As a doctor and co-founder of Meducation, we have started a movement in the right direction. Meducation aims to unite the medical community - yes all of it, but we know our limits.
You can not make such an impact in one step. Most of the charitable solutions and philanthropic activity takes us huge leaps in the right direction and these are of significant importance, but will we ever see the sort of impact possible if we can't maintain the ability to push forwards with the attrition needed to effectively get this right.
I would assume that most of those who have set up an innovative and successful solution to a problem would say that they could not achieve this with an element of freedom to experiment, try different methods and approaches before finding the formula that works. Is it not the same with this problem?
The solution is going to grow from the grassroots and for us at Meducation, although we are starting with health workers in the UK, we certainly see the hopeful future where the health workers in the developing countries can gain access to the educational material and support they need from the rest of the community. With the global medical community working closely together, we will be better placed to help the 1 billion people who would have never see a health worker in their lives.
So well done Mark.... but there are still bigger fish to fry.
The biopsychosocial model of disease existed in my notes... an excuse to get out the colouring crayons and draw a diagram, but ultimately another collection of facts that needed to be digested then regurgitated in the summer exams, something to be fitted in around learning about the important stuff - the science.
But the biopsychosocial model has come alive for me recently, now I realise what an impact the later two components, psychological and social, can have on patients. As a former medical student and now full time patient, the model really means something to me now.
In the 1977 paper in Science, George Engel introduced the biopsychosocial model:
"The dominant model of disease today is biomedical, and it leaves no room within it's framework for the social, psychological and behavioural dimensions of illness. A biopsychosocial model is proposed that provides a blueprint for research, a framework for teaching and a design for action in the real world of health care."
Following some conversations on Twitter recently and from my own experience at medical school and now as a patient, I wanted to explore my thoughts on this model.
Twitter, in the wonderful way it does, recently introduced me to the Disabled Medic blog, which among many other great posts, has also explored the biopsychosocial model, and I would recommend a read.
The biopsychosocial model shows the influence that emotions and social circumstances have on physical health, which is important. But while conversations about the model focus on the way it can be used by healthcare professionals (very important!), it needs emphasising that the model can provide a framework for patients to look at/after themselves. The model highlights the psychological and social causes of disease, but more optimistically, it can show that there are a range of treatments for disease, from the medical to the social and psychological. A diagnosis of a long-term health conditions is often simultaneous with loss of control. There are limitations to the success of medications, treatments and surgeries. And in receiving these, we are relatively passive as patients, no matter how engaged we are. The biopsychosocial model looks at our biological, psychological and social needs, and how these factors influence our overall health. Establishing that these factors affect our health is only the first step. As patients, when psychological and social factors are brought in to the equation, it becomes clear that we ourselves have some power to help ourselves. By framing our health in this more holistic way, as patients we are not as powerless as suggested by the medical model. Through self-management we can make positive changes to our own psychological and social situations, which can in turn benefit our physical biological health.
To return to the traditional ground of the model - healthcare professionals....
One strength of the model is that it places psychology side beside its (generally considered) more superior counter-part, biology. I hope that by seeing the biopsychosocial model in action, physicians can appreciate the detrimental psychological impact of a diagnosis, and the assumption of "it is all in the mind" can fall by the way side. By integrating all three elements, the model shows that neither is independent of the others, so it can't be all in the mind, because other factors, biological or social, will be involved to some degree.
For me personally, the biopsychosocial model makes me look at what a 'life' is. One of the attractions of medicine is saving lives. Without getting too deeply into philosophy or ethics, I just want to explore for a second what saving a life really means for me, as a patient. I still believe that A&E staff heroically save lives. But I have come to realise that a life is more than a swiggly line on a heart rate monitor. My counsellor has been just as heroic in saving my life, through addressing my emotions. My life is now something I can live, rather than endure. With saving lives being a key (and honourable) motivation among medical staff, it is important that we can allow them to save lives as often as possible, and in many different ways. It may not always be through emergency treatment in resuscitation, but if we embrace the biopsychosical model, they can save lives in many more ways.
When there is a limit to the effectiveness of the biological approaches to an ill person, and they can't be returned to the land of the healthy, medical science becomes unstuck. Within the biopsychosocial model, the issue of doctors not being able to do anything is slightly less. As I mentioned in my post about making the transition from medical student to patient, I went to medical school because I wanted to make people better. But I was only being taught one way to make people better - drugs and surgery. If we really embraces the biopsychosocial model, doctors could make a difference, even if their standard tools of drugs aren't available because they could turn to psychological and social support. This isn't to say that all clinicians have to be counsellors or social workers - far from it. But an awareness and appreciation of their contribution to the management of a patient is important, as well as an understanding of the basic principles and skills such as motivational interviewing.
In 2013, I don't think I can talk about social in this context without mentioning social media. It was not was Engel originally meant in 1977, but social media has become a vital social tool for patients to manage their health. Ignoring anxieties and postural problems associated with sitting at a screen seeing everyone else's photo-shopped lives, it is undeniable that social media is a big and good resource that can empower patients to take responsibility and manage their own health. To see the best examples in action, take a look at Michael Seres and his blog, Being a Patient Isn't Easy to see a whole new meaning to the social in biopsychosocial!
I am still very grateful for the biological expertise of my medical team. Don't get me wrong - it's a good place to start and I wouldn't be here writing this post today if it wasn't for the biological support. But with chronic illness, when you are past the dramatic relapses, the biological isn't enough....
The biology has allowed me to live, but its the psychological and social support I have received that has allowed me to live.
Anya de Iongh