Patient Getting an MRIRecently, Dr. Peter Kramer published an intriguing, well-written, but poorly reasoned and potentially dangerous “thought piece” in the New York Times. His article, “Why Doctors Need Stories,” contains several logical flaws and erroneous arguments, but the overarching concept is a classic “straw man” argument.

He creates a false and highly misleading notion of what “evidence-based medicine” (EBM) is and then proceeds with a screed against EBM in order to extol the virtue of the anecdote. This sort of argument works particularly well when the reader has little or no knowledge of the term being misrepresented, so I expect it’s been quite effective even with the generally well-informed Times readership, who wouldn’t be expected to know what EBM is. [click to continue…]

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hands protecting earthEditor’s Note: On November 10, 2014, Jennifer Hatfield, Ph.D., associate dean for global health & international partnerships at the University of Calgary, will speak at Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Global Health Conference. She’ll address ethics in global health partnerships. We asked her to share some of her thoughts on the subject in advance of her appearance.

About 10 years ago, during an international health symposium, an Ethiopian colleague and friend turned to me and said, “The problem with researchers from the ‘North’ [high-income countries] is that you think we in the ‘South’ [low- and middle- income countries] have few resources. But you do not understand that we are rich. We may not have financial resources but we have people, commitment and intellectual capacity.” [click to continue…]

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Close-up of a person holding a syringeEvery day we learn of new suspected cases of Ebola infection in the United States, causing worries among the population and renewed efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contain the epidemic.

A student in the postgraduate course in research ethics that I teach at Einstein recently asked whether we could discuss the Ebola epidemic in class. Because I had prepared the syllabus for the course months ago, I hadn’t thought of including a discussion of ethics in research on Ebola. But the time was ripe, and I gratefully accepted the student’s suggestion. [click to continue…]

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Patient telling symptoms to doctorHow we think about emotion affects not only the meanings we ascribe to situations, events or people but also our possible future actions.

In medicine, emotion is central to the work carried out by health professionals daily. Understanding, reflecting on, engaging with and expressing emotion are important aspects of practice. [click to continue…]

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Aurelia Minuti, head of reference & educational services at D. Samuel Gottesman Library at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, assists a student.

Aurelia Minuti, head of reference & educational services at the D. Samuel Gottesman Library at Einstein, assists a student seeking information.

A recent Viewpoint column by Melissa L. Rethlefsen et al. in the Journal of the American Medical Association,Engaging Medical Librarians to Improve the Quality of Review Articles,” examined the value medical librarians bring to the research process. Librarians’ expertise includes selecting databases, employing advanced search skills, refining topics, developing search strategies and managing results. Disappointingly, these skills are sometimes underused by medical students and established researchers; they either don’t understand the value of these tasks or believe they are already expert at searching.

The article caused me to reflect on the evolving relationship between librarians and researchers that I’ve experienced throughout my library career. [click to continue…]

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