August 25, 2022

The Transition From Nursing Student to Professional Nurse

It took me almost 30 years to figure out what I want to be. When I was little I wanted to be a fireman or a dinosaur. Neither one of those worked out. Now that I am grown up, I can say that I am proud to be a nurse. Nursing school was a very demanding and emotional rollercoaster, so much so that the mere thought of going back for my NP anytime soon makes me really want to look into a career as a dinosaur. Trying to juggle personal life responsibilities, financial well-being, self-care, social connections, clinicals, and late-night studying is physically and emotionally draining. But I would do it again in a heartbeat to get to where I am today.

In nursing school, you often hear that you learn 1% of the job in school and the other 99% when you start working. I’m not sure why school costs so much…. There are days when I feel like I know nothing at all, but then there are little moments, whether it’s with a patient or another team member, that show me I am exactly where I am meant to be. The transition from student to professional nurse is a reality shock. Once you put your scrubs on and step onto the unit, you are expected to be a professional. Your patients expect to be able to rely on and trust you. It doesn't matter if it’s day one or year 10, you are expected to have the capacity and knowledge to treat the patient with the utmost respect, dignity, care, and empathy. 

I understood what it meant to be a nurse when I was working at a Boston hospital on a med-surg floor. One of my patients had been there for months and was clearly depressed. She was neglecting her mental and physical health and it was obvious she had given up. She refused showers or bed baths, wouldn’t get up to use the bathroom, never brushed her hair, and barely ate any food. Her hair particularly was a stressor for her. She had been laying in this bed with the back of her head pressed against the pillow for months, so she was losing a lot of it. On top of that, it was the most tangled head of hair I had ever seen in my entire life. She told me she just wanted to shave it off and was very adamant about it, but she was clearly upset that it had come to that.

I spent three hours sitting in her room detangling her hair. When I was done, I french braided it and you should have seen the glowing smile on her face. I hadn’t seen her smile in months, which was one of the best moments in my nursing career so far. It may seem silly and hair detangling is definitely not something I am required to do, but my job as a nurse is to make sure my patients feel seen, heard, cared for, and comfortable. I learned that being a nurse isn’t just taking vital signs, performing head-to-toe assessments, administering medications, etc. It is my duty to nurture each and every one of my patients, helping them find new ways to grow, heal and lead a happier life.

One of my biggest takeaways from this experience is how amazing and rewarding it is to be a part of this respected profession. I have quickly realized that while yes, this is a job, it also becomes a part of your identity. Nursing will never simply be a job for me, it is a passion. It is a constant process of learning and growing in my personal and professional life.

Author: Sam Dorman

May 31, 2022

Long Weekends Aren’t Meant For Unexpected CME Deadlines

Memorial day weekend (#MDW) is an important time to reflect on all of those who have served and have given the ultimate sacrifice for our way of life.  Unfortunately, this weekend is also associated with many clinicians as a time to “catch up” on all those looming deadlines with some state licenses due for renewal.

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April 6, 2022

Artificial Intelligence Will See You Now: AI In Healthcare

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems that simulate or exhibit a specific aspect of human intelligence or intelligent behavior, such as learning, reasoning, and problem-solving. 

It is not a single technology, but rather a range of computational models and algorithms, the most important of which being Machine Learning (ML), which refers to a system that identifies patterns of data from input and makes predictions from new, never-before-seen data.  

ML algorithms can automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed, and such “learnability” represents a key feature of AI. 

The benefits of AI in healthcare

Healthcare is a field in which AI is rapidly evolving, leading to a digital transformation that is:

  • improving the access, quality, safety, and efficiency of various health services
  • supporting evidence-based decision making 
  • fostering communication and coordination
  • allowing for the optimization of health systems' performance
  • unlocking big data to gain insights into patients
  • delivering value at reduced costs, while still improving outcomes and patient experience

Current AI uses in healthcare

Recently, many ML algorithms have been approved for safe use in healthcare by the US FDA. Stanford developed an AI algorithm that can diagnose up to 14 types of medical conditions simultaneously from imaging, Mayo Clinic started using AI to find molecular biomarkers in MRI imaging instead of testing samples collected during surgery, while MIT developed an AI prediction model that can anticipate the development of breast cancer up to 5 years in advance.

Many big tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and IBM are providing organizations with AI cloud platforms and services as well as ML algorithms. There have also been various cross-sector collaborations, with Apple partnering with over 100 hospitals and clinics for its health records project, allowing consumers to exchange their health data with healthcare providers, or IBM partnering with various hospitals, enabling them to use Watson to make cancer diagnoses and treatment recommendations, a system that can digest information and make recommendations much more quickly and more intelligently than perhaps any machine before it, processing up to 60 million pages of text per second. 

AI-assisted surgical robots are an example of this, as they can be operated both locally and remotely and are able to analyze data from pre-operative medical records to physically guide a surgeon’s instrument in real-time. 

Robots can also be used in the rehabilitation of patients with stroke, to deliver equipment and medical supplies as well as to assist in the care of elderly patients. 

Many hospitals in the United States have also started using ML algorithms for predictive analytics (eg, predicting adverse events, mortality rates, the number of patients in the emergency department), obtaining data that allows them to take proactive measures for the foreseen events days in advance.

EHRs (Electronic Health Records) are the backbone of this process and currently, many EHR vendors, including Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, and Athena have started to add AI into their systems with the purpose of supporting workflows, and clinical decision-making as well as patient engagement. 

Another potential use that can enable clinicians to make quicker and smarter decisions about their patients uses the smartphone as a catalyst. Various companies are developing sensors that attach to phones to collect all sorts of biological data. 

Ultimately, these applications can fall into 4 different categories:

  • Patient-facing
  • Doctor-facing
  • Research
  • Telehealth

The future of AI in healthcare

As more and more data are captured, and as computers become better and faster at processing them autonomously, the possibilities keep expanding. The application of AI in healthcare is disruptive, so a good question to ask is whether it will change not only how medicine is practiced, but who is practicing it. As some Silicon Valley investors are speculating, one day AI could take the place of doctors, serving as a diagnostician and even a surgeon, maybe doing the same work with better results for less money. 

But physicians, after all, do more than data processing. They educate and walk the patients through the difficult times of disease and perhaps death, attend at their bedsides, and counsel them. They grasp nuance and learn to master uncertainty. No AI could replace that humanity in the eyes of a sick patient. 

Chen M, Decary M. Artificial intelligence in healthcare: An essential guide for health leaders. Healthc Manage Forum. 2020 Jan;33(1):10-18. doi: 10.1177/0840470419873123. Epub 2019 Sep 24. PMID: 31550922.

About the Author

Dr. Patrizia Scali is an Italian ECFMG certified medical doctor. 

Dr. Scali graduated medical school from Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy and has completed all 3 USMLE Step exams. She has also completed an Accelerated Certificate Program in Business Administration at University of California, Irvine (UCI).

Dr. Scali  has conducted pediatric hematology research in Italy, as well as hepatology lab research at Yale School of Medicine in the US. She has worked as a primary care physician in Italy, her home country, where she also had extensive experience as a telemedicine doctor.

March 15, 2022

The Medical Supply Chain

The global healthcare system we experience today is the consequence of an extremely efficient, yet fragile, supply chain. This efficiency, therefore, comes at the expense of resilience, meaning it is vulnerable to “black swan” events like Covid-19.

Healthcare facilities work with one another in a group purchasing organization. They contract with two or three large distributors, which either purchase from wholesalers or contract directly with manufacturers. 

As the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the world, we can all remember the shortages the healthcare system suffered. As the caseload kept increasing, the need for PPEs soared, filling the news with images of healthcare workers improvising hospital gowns and face shields. The same thing happened with some critical medical supplies. By April 2020, prices for N95 masks were up 6,136%, while those of isolation gowns had spiked by 2,000%. U.S. health care leaders had to resort to protocols for rationing testing and ventilators as the shortages continued.  

This supply chain failure led to a paradigm shift from a centralized supply chain in the US into thousands of domestic manufacturers stepping up and producing PPEs as well as other critical medical supplies. An example of this included Austin-based Tito’s, which transitioned from producing vodka to hand sanitizer. Cumbersome vendor-approval processes and inflexible funding rules did not help.

In a world where large-scale disruptions such as climate change and natural disasters, shifting global economic or geopolitical conditions as well as cyberattacks are likely to become more common, the Covid-19 pandemic has opened our eyes to the dangers of a supply chain that focuses exclusively on efficiency.

About the Author

Dr. Patrizia Scali is an Italian ECFMG certified medical doctor. 

Dr. Scali graduated medical school from Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy and has completed all 3 USMLE Step exams. She has also completed an Accelerated Certificate Program in Business Administration at University of California, Irvine (UCI).

Dr. Scali  has conducted pediatric hematology research in Italy, as well as hepatology lab research at Yale School of Medicine in the US. She has worked as a primary care physician in Italy, her home country, where she also had extensive experience as a telemedicine doctor. 

February 10, 2022

Filling The Gap Of The US Healthcare Workforce: IMGs and Their Road To Licensure

The US demand for physicians has been higher than the number of US medical school graduates. One way to fulfill this is by seeking IMGs. 

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November 24, 2021

Avoiding Healthcare’s Great Resignation

There's no doubt that the Great Resignation has exponentially impacted the healthcare industry. Here's how you can protect your organization.

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September 21, 2021

Making Changes in Healthcare is Hard – But Why?

The healthcare industry is very complex, which is one of the many reasons that has held back progressive changes. Many problem-solving innovations are pushed to the side because of external factors that are prevalent in healthcare, even if those changes will improve clinician wellness, patient care, education, increase productivity while decreasing compliance risk. 

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June 14, 2021

7 Key Takeaways from Mocingbird+ UBERDOC: The Future of Medicine: Re-imagine Your Digital Practice Webinar

Thank you to all who were able to attend the first-ever Mocingbird + UBERDOC webinar to discuss the future of digital healthcare, the trend of telehealth, the blooming second opinion market, how to expand your patient base, re-conceptualizing your practice, and much more.

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June 2, 2021

COVID’s Impact on Telemedicine and Holding Multiple State Licenses

COVID has tremendously impacted the healthcare industry, and telehealth has emerged as an essential component being used on a massive scale.

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April 19, 2021

Clinicians Burnout is Real

Emotional and physical exhaustion, decline in satisfaction and happiness, and replacement of enthusiasm with cynicism - these changes are signs of burnout.

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