Friday, July 20, 2007

Clinical Research Journal Club, Consenting, and New Student Picnic

We had our first clinical research journal club today. I was a little wary because last year's basic science journal club could be really frustrating. I often felt like the articles were kind of over my head. It was also very formal and sometimes kind of painful to sit through. On top of that, I couldn't help but notice that this year we have journal club for two hours per week instead of just 1.5 hours like we did before. (On a side note, I am still lamenting the loss of our free Thursdays. For the whole clinical summer block, we have two hours of class every single day. It sounds funny to complain about that when some med schools have class every day from 9-5, but it's all relative, isn't it? Luckily, we'll get our free Thursdays back once we start our next block in September.)

Anyway, today's journal club was pretty fun. First of all, we were sitting around a table where we could more or less have a group conversation instead of it being like a formal talk where one person was at the front lecturing. So it was much more informal, and that stimulated a lot more participation than last year's journal club did. Second, the papers were comprehensible and interesting, and I didn't have to google every other word to figure out what the heck they were talking about like I did last summer. And finally, our general research ethics focus for the week is the kind of topic that tends to stimulate discussion. I'm going to be leading my journal club discussion the week after next. My article is about drug-eluting stents, so I think it should be a good one because of how controversial these stents are.

This afternoon, I went with the social worker to consent another patient. She had met with seven patients yesterday while I was in the OR plus another one this morning, and all eight of them had agreed to join the study. But the one we spoke to this afternoon didn't want to participate because he didn't want to take the chance of winding up in the placebo group. He really liked the idea of getting the experimental treatment, but he said he'd only be willing to join the study if they'd guarantee that he'd be put in the experimental group. Well, that's not possible, because the trial is randomized, which means that a computer randomly picks which group each patient joins. If we started letting people join whatever group they wanted, then it wouldn't be very random! That's now three out of three patients who have turned down joing the study while I was there with the social worker to consent them. I'm already developing a reputation for jinxing her by my very presence.

This evening there was a picnic for the new first years at one of the Cleveland Metro Parks. I wasn't planning to go, but one of the first years talked me into it. I had already met several of them at school, and I met most of the rest of them at the picnic. The new class seems really diverse and cool, and it's fun having a bunch of new faces around. By the way, if any of you first years are reading this, in the near future you should definitely get your hands on a copy of the Costanzo physiology book they were raffling off at the picnic. Read the first chapter on cellular physiology now during summer block, because in October you are going to jump right into cardiopulmonary physiology without any general intro to physio whatsoever.

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