We met with Shawna Bellew, a fourth year med student from the University of Central Florida. Her submissions for the OB/GYN and Internal Medicine categories both won 3rd place in the Curēus Fall 2012 Poster competition.
The OB/GYN poster compares traditional laparotomy to robotic techniques in treating endometrial cancer. Her Internal Medicine entry explores acute pancreatitis and its connection to eating disorders, specifically bulimia in young females.
Growing up in a family of doctors the decision to go to med school came easy, although not obviously. She started her studies as an art major, and even though she switched tracks she still remains a passionate artist.
As a result of requests from several medical schools and residency programs to extend the poster contest deadline, the Cureus editorial staff has decided to change the submission deadline to October 12 at 5PM PST.
We are pleased to see that more and more programs have been getting involved in the competition with entries from medical schools all over the United States, Europe and now the Middle East. As of this post, top honors go to:
University of Central Florida
Washington University in St. Louis
The schools from the eastern half of the US are definitely dominating those from the west to this point with the exception of Stanford and UW. Where are USC, UCLA, OHSU, UC San Diego? Time to get moving!
Note: voting is open once a poster is submitted, so the authors who get their posters submitted before the deadline and begin promoting them have a head- start toward finishing among the top 10 finalists. The Cureus editorial board will select the top 3 winners from among the 10 finalists.
The highest vote-earner and their mentor will get to choose either a brand new iPhone 5 or a Kindle Fire HD. Being popular isn’t everything… but sometimes it’s pretty darn cool.
“While our competition gives residents, medical and graduate students the chance to win prizes, the long-term benefit is that publishing to Curēus allows valuable poster content to live on and be shared, long after the conference at which they are presented. That’s truly priceless.” said Curēus President, Tobin Arthur.
Submit your posters by October 5 and compete with medical and graduate students from around the world in over 40 categories. These categories include all major medical specialties. The sooner you register the sooner you can begin promoting your poster.
I had the chance to chat with Mark Yarchoan, MD one of the key people behind launching the Curēus International Poster Competition.
Mark is a first year resident at the University of Pennsylvania and is the Director of the soon-to-be-launched Curēus Ambassador Program (medical students and residents).
Q) For a little background, tell us where you grew up and where you went for undergrad and medical school.
A) I grew up in Bethesda, MD, a suburb of Washington, DC. I completed my undergraduate degree at Amherst College and then went on to study medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Q) What attracted you to pursue a career in medicine?
A) My parents are both physician-scientists, and I think that attracted me to medicine from a young age. While growing up I also loved science class in school. However, choosing medicine was still a challenging decision for me because I was bothered by the idea of following in my parent’s footsteps, and I resisted by searching for alternative careers. I spent a summer living in a tent and catching bats for the National Park Service, thinking that I might want to be a field biologist. I also spent a year after undergrad as a medical reporter. It took me a while to settle on medicine as a career.
Q) As a first year resident, what has been the biggest surprise or most interesting experience so far?
A) I think one of the surprises I’ve come to recognize about medicine mostly since becoming a resident is that in the end, so much of patient care falls into a grey zone. Most of medical education is focused on learning facts; there is a right answer to every test question. However, in practice, there rarely is just one right answer because there simply isn’t specific data for the majority of medical decisions we make. This is partly what makes medicine so interesting, and why I think it’s a bit of an art.
Q) If you were to go back to medical school, is there anything you would have done differently in terms of preparing for/applying for Residency?
A) Medical school has become a multitude of important steps: basic science classes, clinically-oriented classes, tests, clinical evaluations, and then there are the national Step exams; and at each juncture I really had the sense that if I didn’t shine I might fall all the way down the staircase. In retrospect I wish I had spent more time just enjoying the privilege of becoming a doctor. Let me give you an example: I actually went through most of medical school never drawing blood from patients. Blood draws were not something we were expected to do on the wards, and blood drawing skills were never tested on any kind of exam. Instead, I spent time memorizing that Krabbe disease (1 in 100,000 births) is caused by a deficiency in the enzyme galactocerebrosidase because that occasionally showed up on tests. I wish I had just given up my one point on the test for not knowing about Krabbe’s disease and become the best in my class at drawing blood from patients with challenging veins. It’s something that in the end is much more important.
Q) Thinking back to creating your first poster, what is the biggest misconception you had about authoring a poster or what is something you now know that you wished you knew then?
A) Like a lot of other people, I greatly overestimated the time I had to sell my story to viewers. I thought that viewers would spend several minutes reading my poster. Instead, most people simply read the title, or perhaps look through the figures. That experience taught me to make as much information available as quickly as possible to the viewer: clear, concise titles; clean figures; a readable 30-second abstract.
Q) Did you have any good or interesting experiences creating or presenting posters that immediately come to mind?
A) The highlight of presenting a poster, at least for me, has always been meeting people who are in your field who came to learn about your research. This is part of the reason that I’m enthusiastic about Curēus. I think having posters archived online will prolong this period of discussion and increase peer interaction among researchers who might never have otherwise met.
Q) You have parents who are physicians, what is a lesson or two you have drawn from them regarding your medical training or career?
A) One thing my parents have valued throughout their career which I find very inspiring is constant learning. My parents are always reading journals and updated medical textbooks to keep up with innovation and change in medicine. Right now I’m in an environment where I’m constantly being taught by different senior residents, fellows, and attending doctors. However, at some point I’ll be at the top of the education chain and if I want to improve I’ll be forced to mostly teach myself.
Q) You have been doing some very interesting and specific work related to diabetes…can you elaborate a bit? What drew you to this area of research? Where do you want to see this go?
A) After college I worked as an associate for a diabetes information company, and I came to appreciate the extent that diabetes and obesity have become epidemics of our time. When insulin was first purified in the early 1920s, the NY Times and other newspapers of the time famously proclaimed that diabetes had been “cured.” I think people back then would have been shocked to find out just how many people a full 90 years later are living with diabetes, and more disturbingly, with life-altering complications of this disease. I also find the science of insulin signaling and glucose metabolism to be fascinating. I still don’t know what I want to do with my background in this area, but I do find it to be intellectually engaging and incredibly important.
Q) What has been the response from peers and medical students you have heard from with respect to the Curēus poster competition?
A) I think the whole Curēus model is quite different from the current state of publishing, and understandably it may take some time to catch on. However, my peers – young physicians and medical students – are the least entrenched in the current state of medical publishing and the most open to something truly new and different. And I think the overall response has been very positive.
Who would have thought that the scores of posters you presented in medical school or graduate school, through residency, internship, fellowship and beyond, would contribute so effectively to the building of your CV? And the posters you might be drafting now AS a student…
Now, posters are not simply abstracts or listings in a Conference Proceedings, but once published on Cureus, they become fully visible in the world of medical knowledge. Beyond that, our users, editors and reviewers will gladly point you in the direction of turning that “outline” and those preliminary results into a publishable peer reviewed article, that also will be viewed by all as soon as it is submitted to Cureus.
Posters can now become published as unique citable entities. And “manuscripts in progress”/ “manuscripts under review”? Forget about that list! Cureus makes the “in progress” into actual progress and makes the “under review” into published in a matter of days rather than months or years.
Publish everything you have. Those piles of data are useful and the world wants to learn from them. You want a CV full of publications, right? Cureus will make that happen, and it will happen quickly, starting with a submitted poster!