General Updates – Projects, “Vacation”, Mayo Experiences, and more

No, I have not been in complete emotional turmoil since the Hobby Lobby case (though, we can talk about it if you would like!). Because it has been about three weeks now, I am just going to break this into sections to catch all of you up on what I’m doing. Before you read any further, I want to let you know that I am scheduled for my first surgery/procedure shadowing experience tomorrow – expect a longer, more detailed post on that. I will also be shadowing an ICD/pacemaker implant next week.
Project 1: I have finished the title screening of the systematic review. This means that I have gone through 6,200 articles to determine what is and is not relevant for risk prediction in acute kidney injury and end-stage renal disease. No, I have not solved the crises of dialysis and end-of-life care.
But! I am now working on the abstract screening of articles. I narrowed the relevant articles down to 250, and I have been reading through those 250 abstracts to further determine what is and is not relevant. It looks like I will be using about 50-75 full articles for the next step. We envision that we will have about 18 articles in the end. 6,200 to 18. It has been a wild ride of kidneys, disease, and epidemiological studies.
Project 2: Some of you may remember early, early on this summer that I mentioned I am working on two projects. I have not abandoned the second one, but rather, I am choosing to not blog publically about it. I am the lead author on this project, and because it is a commentary piece (meaning that it is more theoretical in nature rather a normal research article you would see in a scientific journal – thus a bit faster to hammer out), I want to safeguard this project. I’ll give you these phrases: Affordable Care Act and malpractice. I mostly just don’t want to put myself in a weird position of having to cite myself, worry that someone will stumble across the keywords and begin writing on my topic, etc. If you’re interested in this, email me, and we can talk about it more!
While Adam shadows doctors, I shadow Dunkin' Donuts cups (my shadow experience is quickly approaching, don't worry)

While Adam shadows doctors, I shadow Dunkin’ Donuts cups (my shadow experience is quickly approaching, don’t worry)

I got the chance to spend some time in Minneapolis, and despite the rain on one weekend, I had a lot of fun! Rochester is nice in that there are a lot of students here working throughout the summer, and several live with us in our building. Yet, it was great to have a bit of a “vacation” away.
Big City Living

Big City Living

Adam and I went to Mall of America where we were able to ride several indoor roller coasters on the 4th of July. We were both big fans of the Fairy Odd Parents ride, along with the other hundreds of small children in the park dragging their parents around. We then made our way over to Garrison Keiller’s “A Prairie Home Companion” where we assembled with fans of public radio, folk, country, and music. I’ll admit, I was initially hesitant about this, as this really isn’t my “scene” (people were eating raw corn on the cob, and I’m sure Adam and I pulled down the average age by a few decades), but I had a lot of fun and a relaxing 4th, overall. As we circled around St. Paul for the second time (because we got on the wrong bus), we even got to see some fireworks outside of the window. However, I did miss my normal gathering with the Moore family and shooting absurd fireworks for hours on end.


Throughout this all, I have really grown to appreciate the company of my mentors. Everyone has truly been a delight to work with, but Dr. Tilburt (personal project mentor), Dr. Thorsteinsdottir (personal project mentor), Dr. Jen McCormick (program mentor), Kate Cook (program mentor), and Dr. Henrikson Hellyer (program mentor) have been especially great.
Dr. Tilburt and Dr. Thorsteinsdottir have both certainly kept me busy, but I’ve really enjoyed hearing more about their work and family. Dr. Thorsteinsdottir grew up in Iceland, and her husband is from Denmark. She knew of my plans to study abroad in Denmark this fall, and she arranged a dinner for her, her husband, myself, and a family friend from Denmark to attend. We talked and laughed a lot about certain European stereotypes I am sure to encounter, and they were all kind enough to recommend me places to visit. Dr. Thorsteinsdottir worked as a tour guide in Iceland during her summers in med school, so she was even able to pass along some unique recommendations to me! A shout-out to Brooke and Cy as we plan our excursion.
The BEPers (what we in Bioethics are lovingly referred as) and GIMers (the admittedly cooler name) were all able to get together with Kate on her birthday at a local restaurant. We’ve all been able to interact with each other quite a bit in formal settings such as listening to presentations, grand rounds, and more, but it was really nice to just see everyone outside of work – a reminder that, yes, we do have lives outside of the cubicle.

I do, however, work in a beautiful building.

I do, however, work in a beautiful building.

Admittedly, most of the grand rounds material flies over my head, but with Mayo being named the #1 hospital in America just this week, it’s incredible that I am able to see and interact with these physicians so easily. I’m at the point now where when I come across a publication that originated from Mayo, I find myself saying, “Oh yes, he/she was really nice to talk to!” to myself. In particular, I have enjoyed the weekly lunch and learn sessions that our program puts on for us. Usually, one or two members of Mayo will come and talk to us about their experiences in ethics and medicine, their career, how they found themselves in their career, or just their outside interests. One of the doctors here has an art studio near our apartment where he likes to paint abstract art and get feedback from the med students (because everyone interprets it differently – thus, he likes to say that they will carry this knowledge with them into the patient’s room). He invited us all to come see his studio, and really, it’s reminding me of the Davidson environment I love, all over again.
A view of our main street

A view of our main street

I also had the opportunity to participate in an ethics consult. For sake of privacy, I will not be describing my experience here, but an ethics consult is essentially a chance to address ethical questions that can arise in patient care (i.e., is this patient capable of making medical decisions? Are we communicating properly with the family? Etc.). The ethics consult service is designed to help patients, families, and Mayo staff in identifying and resolving possible ethical dilemmas when treating patients. Doctors, patients, residents, fellows, nurses, chaplains, social workers, guardians, etc. all can be involved with the consult.
Adam and I were fortunately able to connect with the Brost family (’84). Dr.  Brost works in OB-GYN here and Mayo, and Mrs. Brost graduated in psychology at Davidson; consequently, Adam and I are both very interested in their work. I got to chat with them both about their experiences after Davidson, where their careers have taken them, and how Davidson has shaped their ways of thinking. As someone currently panicking about grade deflation and thinking about life after Davidson, it was really reassuring to hear from the family that they have both found success!
Dr. and Mrs. Brost took Adam and I to the simulation center here at Mayo, where med students, residents, surgeons, and physicians can practice and hone-in on new techniques. I know that even the ethics consult team uses the sim-center, as the patient dummies can talk and interact with the room.
I was able to use an endoscope to perform an (say this with me) esophagogastroduodenoscopy on a “patient” while in the sim-center. In the center, you are able to use real tools to perform these “surgeries” on TV screens with the dummies or models that provide realistic pressure. Almost 3 feet of tubes later, I surveyed a gastric ulcer in the “patient.” I got a bit turned around and somehow videoed the tube within the patient, meaning that I somehow managed a complete 180 inside of the system. Adam’s “patient” didn’t look too good either, so we may both need a bit more practice.
Dr. Brost then took us to his classroom where we were able to deliver babies with his help. I know that Adam is considering the OB-GYN route, but after suctioning a baby out of the “mother” by its skull and seeing the after-effects (read: tears in the rubber), I know that I am content sticking with case law. The photos show me smiling but fail to show my ridiculous trembling at the foot of the rubber mother.


Adam and I were able to see the Mayowood Mansion and bell tour while his grandparents were in town. I really enjoyed the Mayowood tour, as just seeing where the brothers lived was amazing enough. I was particularly fascinated with the first library, but unfortunately, photos were not allowed inside. I know a lot of people dream about their future homes – how they want the kitchen, the dining rooms, etc., but all I have ever dreamed about in terms of future homes has been what type of design I want in my future library. Essentially, I want the Mayo library. If there is a DRI or other grant for that, let me know.
Mayowood Mansion

Mayowood Mansion

The Brost family will be taking us to the long-anticipated SPAM museum next week. I will be sure to let you know how it is, and I’ll make Adam try the SPAM to give you a taste-test review.
Again, I am sorry for the delay in my blogging!