Monthly Archive: July 2011

Seizure in the ED

Perhaps a bit of a stretch….but funny nonetheless

Freedom of Information Acts and Physician Salaries

Many states have passed freedom of information acts that force public universities to publish the salary data for all of their employees. Whether you agree or disagree with this form of legislation, you should all know what information these acts provide you.  There are now a large number of academic medical centers whose salary information is available to you and the public.  A quick Google search will find the university you are interested and the department, specialty, or physician you would like to learn about.

If you are interested in working in academics, estimating your future salary was next to impossible before this information was made public.  We all know that academic docs usually make less money than private docs, but the taboo issue is never discussed.  Many sites provide survey information on how much physicians make in different specialties, but these rarely distinguish between private and academic physicians.  Now, thanks to the Freedom of Information Acts, you can know.

Because this information is public record, you can just search for it on the web.  I have found that the Collegiate Times website is very well organized and lets you search by University, Department, or Name.

One last caveat.  You will see some information that is surely inaccurate.  Many physicians’ income in an academic center comes from a number of different sources (multiple departments, multiple hospitals, bonuses for productivity etc).  So, if you see an orthopedic surgeon making $60,000 don’t get an aneurysm, there is something else going on.

MD Consult: Free books, reviews, articles

You can never buy every book you will need in medical school, and you would never want to. Luckily, most medical students have acces to MDConsult, a web-based database that contains innumerable resources for students, residents, and attendings.

The site is not free, but you probably have access through your school or your hospital.  Once you are successfully on the site, you will have access thousands of texts, articles, reviews, and drug information. In fact, many of the books are downloadable in pdf format.  This includes many of the books you will be required to purchase and read during all four years of medical school.  It is always a good idea to check MDConsult prior to purchasing a book, especially if you just need to read a portion of the text.

Also, if you need to find a specific journal article that your library does not have in print or electronically, always try MDConsult as they have millions of searchable articles that are easy to find.

They have a nice app too, which can be used on a phone, ipod, or tablet.

Careers in Medicine from the AAMC

If you have ever wondered how to choose a specialty, this website might be your best resource. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provides all medical students free registration and access to this very useful tool.

The website provides students with multiple decision tools including…

  • quizzes to determine what personality traits you obtain
  • online surveys to help determine what your career goals
  • surveys that suggest possible specialties that fit with your traits and priorities
  • what characteristics of each specialty might appeal or disuade you

In addition, the most powerful part of the website are the specialty specific pages available to all students.  These pages outline a number of things about each specialty

  • Patient population, including age, gender, ethnicity
  • Top 5 most common diagnoses seen by the specialty
  • Competativeness of the match
  • Personality traits common to most in the specialty
  • Average compensation data for the specialty

I urge all medical students to sign up for this fantastic tool.  You should begin your specialty search early in your career.  To the 1st and 2nd year students, it is never too early!  Begin by learning about your career goals and your personality traits and you will start to identify specialties that may fit into your mold.



The Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2011

(See my article about the new 2012 Medscape Compensation Report here)

If you have not seen it already, the newest physician compensation report was recently released by Medscape.  Each year Medscape surveys thousands of physicians and reports the results in graphical form.  In order to access the report, you have to be a medscape member.  Don’t let this stop you, by joining medscape you will also have access to some of the best software and portable medical apps for free (see my previous post regarding these apps).  It is a win-win situation.

The main report can be found here,

The report includes salary and compensation information on 23 specialties.  Medscape also publishes a specialty-specific report for each specialty which outlines geographical and practice specific factors that affect compensation.  The specialties are listed below with links to specialty specific reports (only available with Medscape account).

Epocrates: Your brain in your hand

Did anyone actually enjoy studying pharmacology during the 1st and 2nd year of medical school?  One of the best resources you can have during your 3rd year rotations and into 4th year, internship, residency, and beyond is solid pocket medication and prescription reference.  Epocrates is the most widely used pocket reference and I can say from personal experience, it is a MUST HAVE.  There are many other apps, and some are good (LexiComp) but none are as good as Epocrates.

Set up is simple, download the app to your hand held device and the rest is self explanatory.  There is a free version and a pay version.  Even the free version is very good. However, your school likely has a tie in with Epocrates which will allow you to obtain the full version for free while you are in school.  Ask your administrators to provide this service if they do not already do so.

The Epocrates site provides the free download for Apple, Blackberry, Palm, Android, and Windows Mobile devices

Medscape: The Most Downloaded Medical App

Medscape (now part of has produced the most widely used medical apps on the market.  The best part is, they are all free.  The main app links you to a database of review articles, disease definitions/physiology/pathology, and management guidelines.  It provides very quick access to important information: you could look up first line medications for community acquired pneumonia in the 15 seconds before you get pimped!

Their main site provides free app downloads for Apple, Blackberry, and Android users.  I have to admit, I use this ALL THE TIME right now during internship.  It is amazingly useful and user friendly

In order to download the app you will need to register with the website (here).  This will not only open the door to all their free apps, but also to all their online resources including free articles, text books, and reviews.  It will also allow you to view their annual physician compensation survey, one of the best ways to learn about how much physicians in each specialty earn.  See my dedicated post on this subject.






Uptodate: How to impress on rounds

Throughout your third and fourth year of medical school you will frequently be told to “read about your patients.” is one of your best resources for succinct, up to date, and easy to manage medical information.  The site contains  review articles written by experts in the field and covers nearly all important topics in medicine.  Most large hospitals and medical centers have access to the database through their network.  There is a useful app too, but you may not be able to access it through wi-fi even within the hospital, due to some site restrictions.  But, DON’T PAY for it.  More than likely, there is a way to access it through your medical school.

How to Use:

Read about your patient before rounds or at night.  Learn the ins and outs of the disease process well to better treat your patient and to better answer questions when you are pimped.  See if your team is doing everything suggested by the review article.  If you find something to add, mention this on rounds or to your residents and mention where you learned it (uptodate).  Everyone in medicine respects the review articles on uptodate.  If you mention that your information comes from uptodate, everyone will now it is reliable.  In the same vein, NEVER admit you learned something from wikipedia…even if it is a great resource sometimes.

The National Health Service Corp (NHSC) Scholarship Program

The NHSC scholarship is one of the hidden jewels of medical school.  The scholarship is an agreement between the federal government and a student, similar to the armed forces scholarships.  The government will pay a full tuition scholarship plus incentives and stipends to a student who agrees to repay the government by working in ‘underserved’ areas of the country after completing residency.

Main Site:

Details and Overview:

Specialties: Any student interested in this scholarship must be interested in a primary care specialty.  The NHSC approves the following specialties: Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Medicine/Pediatrics, OB/GYN, and Psychiatry.  A student will obtain the scholarship in medical school, will attend on of these residencies, and will then work the agreed upon number of years in an underserved area.
NOTE: While you are required to begin paying back your years of service directly after residency, once you have completed your repayment there is nothing stopping you from returning and completing a fellowship.  The NHSC Scholarship does not negate your ability to obtain a fellowship after you have completed your pay back years

Payback: The candidate is required to pay back one year for every year the scholarship is received, with a minimum of 2 years of pay back time.  So, if a student signs up prior to medical school and receives the scholarship for 4 years, he/she will owe 4 years back to the NHSC.  If a student signs up during the 4th year of medical school, he/she will still owe 2 years.

Locations: The GREAT PART about this scholarship is the options and autonomy it provides. Unlike the armed forces scholarships, YOU get to decide where you will work.  All you have to do is find a program ANYWHERE in the country that meets requirements.  The NHSC publishes a list (here)  of approved programs in every state and territory in the USA.  Each of these programs is designated a number based on how “underserved” it really is.  There is a threshold set each year that determines what types of jobs qualify as payback years.

The current threshold is 17, any oppurtunity listed on the NHSC website at or above 17 would qualify.  As you can see from the list, there are TONS of opportunities.  The best part is, you will still be paid like a physician when you work at these jobs, but you will also be paying back the government for your scholarship.

Applying: The scholarship is becoming increasingly competitive each year.  The table below is from the NHSC’s most recent publication.  While the number of applicants is increasing quickly, the number of scholarships is also increasing.  On their website, the NHSC mentions three criteria for candidate selection
1- Academic performance
2- Commitment to primary care
3- Absence of prior legal obligations


Payments During Medical School:
1- Tuition: “Tuition and required fees will be paid directly to the educational institution.”
2- Other Reasonable Costs:  Includes computer/PDA, books, health insurance, supplies, uniforms, school fees, many others
3- Stipend: “During the 2011-2012 school year, NHSC scholars will receive a monthly stipend amount of $1,289.00 (before Federal taxes) for living expenses.”  This equals $15,468 a year on top of tuition and other costs!

Proper gowning and gloving, a training video

As I mentioned in a previous post about how important it is to know proper scrub technique, it is equally important to know how to gown and glove. Most students will receive formal training in these techniques.  However, if you are planning on being in the OR either for shadowing or elective rotations before you receive training, be sure to watch this video and the video on proper scrub technique

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