T minus 4 days

I’ve been doing a lot of report-writing and speech-writing and summarizing for work lately, so I guess now is as good a time as any to let everyone know what I’ve been doing for the last 8 months in Nice besides cooking, tanning, making day trips to Italy, and eating ice cream 🙂

My research this year was in medical simulation, which involves using devices and mock scenarios to teach doctors how to do different medical procedures or how to deal with different situations.  My goal was to build a device to teach doctors how to manage a hernia in a baby because it’s actually a really common condition—hernias happen in 1-5% of newborns, most commonly in boys, and in up to 30% of premature babies!

I ended up building 2 models.  One of them is a surgical model that will hopefully be used down the road to allow residents to practice surgically repairing a hernia in a baby on the model before they do it in the OR.  The benefit is that they can get used to working in a smaller space and they can make mistakes when they practice on the model without hurting a patient.  The model is basically a Tupperware container covered in fake “skin” with fake “organs” inside.  The doctor has to dissect through the tissue and repair the hernia without cutting anything important.  It’s really cool to see the doctors actually using the model and we’ve gotten really good feedback so far.

Surgical model

Using the surgical model in Paris

Surgical model

Fake organs

The second model is a baby doll that’s been modified to have a “hernia”—basically a balloon with a sponge inside.  It will hopefully be used to teach parents of premature babies how to take care of a hernia if they notice their child has one before they bring them to the hospital.

Clinical model

A poor baby doll with a hernia

Two weeks ago, I presented my project at the 19th annual meeting for the Society in Europe for Simulation Applied to Medicine in Paris!  I was nervous, of course, because I’m not a great public speaker, but it ended up going really well.  The rest of the conference was really interesting and I got to see some good presentations about teamwork in simulation, current research projects, and how it’s possible to turn an MRI into a 3 dimensional image to guide surgery!  I also got to hang out with some of my old colleagues (and bosses) from Chicago, who were also attending the conference 🙂

Presenting my project

Presenting my project

After the conference, I got to do a little bit of traveling around France to test my model.  I visited 4 simulation centers/hospitals in France: Angers, Limoges, Paris, and Strasbourg.  I met lots of surgeons, pediatricians, emergency medicine docs, anesthesiologists, gynecologists, and students who helped me by using and evaluating my models.  We’re hoping to use the results from this testing to publish a few papers and present at a few more conferences… fingers crossed.

More on the travel part of the trip to come, but the testing and sim center visits were really interesting.  Going to school and working at the Center for Education in Medicine at Northwestern really spoiled me, and I’m sure going to med school at Ohio State is going to spoil me even more.  Both Northwestern and OSU have incredible resources and state-of-the-art simulation centers.  The medical school at the University of Nice and the hospital in Angers also have pretty large simulation centers, but nowhere near the amount of resources or technology.  The sim center in Limoges was really small—only 2 rooms with one computer to control the 2 life-sized mannekins.  It was really interesting to see the differences in simulation in medical education between France and the US.  At Northwestern, simulation is integrated into the curriculum now from the first year of medical school, whereas the University of Nice is just starting to implement a mandatory simulation component to the resident curriculum.  Simulation training isn’t mandatory at all in Limoges.

During my Fulbright project in France, I was also applying to medical schools back in the US and am happy to say I’ll be matriculating at OSU in August (GO BUCKS)! 🙂  But throughout the application process, I was flabbergasted by the cost of medical school.  Med students are graduating with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt and pretty soon it’s going to get to a point where we ask ourselves is the outcome worth the investment?  Contrast this to medical school in France, where students pay about 200 euros (or $260) per year to go to school.  Sure, French doctors make about 1/3 what their American counterparts make, but they’re also not paying back a quarter of a million dollars in loans and interest.  My “tour de France” put a lot of this into perspective.  Medical school costs a lot less in France, but French medical students also have far fewer opportunities than American medical students in, for example, simulation.  One of the residents I talked to in Limoges said that it’s basically up to you to go the extra mile.  I like to think I’ve had some solid experience with simulation and I’ve seen how helpful it can be within medical education.  It might be naïve of me to say, but I think I would pay the extra money (or at least some of it) to have these amazing opportunities.

Anyways, I’m pretty much wrapping up work here.  One more presentation tomorrow, this time in French, and flying to Africa on Tuesday! 🙂


French word for today:
bronzer (bron-ZAY)- to tan
Je bronze très facilement sous ce beau soleil méditerranéen !
I tan very easily under this nice Mediterranean sun!