What is a Medical Staff?

119543789489042057caduceus_ryland_sanders_01.svg.thumbNot a question that comes up often in conversation, but when it does, many people will envision the caduceus, a staff associated with the messenger god, Hermes, in Greek mythology. With two wings at the top and entwined with two snakes, it is often mistakenly assumed to be a symbol of healing. In fact, Hermes, known as the  god of commerce, moved between the world of man and the world of gods, acting as a messenger and the link between mortals and the Olympians.

Sodownloadme may be familiar with the more correct, but lesser-known symbol, the Rod of Asclepius, which is entwined with a single serpent and wielded by the Greek god, Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. In spite of the symbols carried by these gods, there is a more down-to-earth meaning to the term medical staff.

When a health crisis occurs, most patients put their lives in the hands of the doctors in the nearest hospital. They do so in good faith, without knowing what goes on behind the scenes in order to protect them from unqualified medical practitioners.

If you’ve ever been a patient in a hospital, you were probably admitted by your primary care physician. And that’s where the hospital’s medical staff comes in.

Hospital-based television shows are unlikely to demonstrate the rigorous process your doctor went through to earn the privilege of admitting you to a specific hospital. It would not pass as entertainment.

The process began when your physician was required to provide proof of medical education and training as well as letters of reference from any former hospital where he or she possessed privileges. A credentialing committee then scrutinized the request for membership and privileges and verified the physician’s credentials. Once privileges were granted, the physician spent a period of time being monitored by a senior member of the medical staff. And that’s just the beginning.

To remain on the medical staff, your doctor must regularly fulfill continuing education requirements by attending pertinent educational programs. To retain treatment privileges, he or she must serve on medical staff committees and must attend mandatory medical staff department meetings. On top of that, all physicians who are granted medical staff membership must abide by the medical staff bylaws and are subject to having the quality of their patient care scrutinized by their peers.

The next time you’re in a hospital, either as a patient or a visitor, rest assured that hospital’s medical staff organization is working in the background. Let the television version of hospital life entertain you, but be grateful for real life, where the less entertaining work of upholding the quality of the medical staff goes on, ensuring that you and your loved ones are in good hands.

checked_out_300 (1)CHECKED OUT, book two of the Aimee Machado Mystery series, will be released October 1, 2015. Available for pre-order now, it introduces Aimee’s colleague Cleo Cominoli, Director of Medical Staff Services at Timbergate Medical Center. When Cleo becomes suspicious of a controversial and potentially dangerous woman surgeon on the medical staff, she enlists Aimee’s help and the excitement begins.

Call a doctor, or call a librarian?

ID-10099085If you’re in need of immediate medical attention, you’d best hightail it to your nearest hospital emergency room. Once you arrive there, your problem will be identified and treatment will begin. Maybe. Or maybe your condition is one that is so rarely encountered that your doctor will need the help of someone with more specialized knowledge about your  treatment. You may be surprised to know that the specialist your doctor calls is your hospital’s Health Sciences Librarian.

What? Wait a minute. Seriously? Call a librarian? Yes, indeed. Health Sciences Librarians are the unsung heroes/heroines of the medical profession. They directly impact patient care by helping physicians stay abreast of new developments in their fields.

A physician’s mind is crammed with all the information learned in medical school, but suppose your doctor graduated med school ten years ago? Twenty years ago? What’s new since then? Doctors are required to attend continuing education programs often enough to keep their licenses in good standing, but they can’t possibly keep up with all of the latest treatment methods used in the rarest of medical situations and conditions. Here’s one example:

Hypertrichosis, “Werewolf Syndrome”Image result for images of wolfman syndrome

In this syndrome, patients develop abnormal hair growth on their bodies. Their faces can be completely covered in long hair. The condition is on most lists of the rarest known medical conditions.

Your medical problem may not be as visually obvious as this one, but when your doctor needs help in order to diagnose and treat you, a Health Sciences Librarian may be the best source for rush information. A well-trained librarian knows where to find that information immediately—from the most credible sources—thus enabling your doctor to readily access literature that explains the condition and offers the most up-to-date treatment.

So take comfort in knowing that after you seek help from your health care provider, he or she  may turn to a little-recognized but highly qualified and capable medical information specialist—a Health Sciences Librarian.

Some characteristics of effective Health Sciences Librarians include: technological aptitude, creativity and curiosity, service orientation, ability to thrive in a constantly-changing environment, excellent communication skills and teaching ability. For more information about Health Sciences Librarians, including where they work, education requirements and earning potential, visit https://www.mlanet.org/career/career_explore.htmlsc

Image of doctor courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

How to Train Your Dragon, er, Llama

A few years ago, I accompanied my young granddaughters to the movie titled How to Train Your Dragon. I wish I had paid more attention.

My husband and I enjoy hiking in the Northern California wilderness. Our pack llamas have made those trips far more pleasant than they would have been if we had each carried forty pounds of camping gear on our own backs.

Sadly, we recently lost our favorite llama. We shed our tears and let him go, but felt compelled to replace him as soon as possible so that Smoke, our remaining llama, would have company. Llamas are herd animals, and conventional wisdom says they are happier with at least one pasture pal. We soon found a three-year-old that seemed like a good prospect.

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Quartz led easily, loaded in a trailer without a problem, and seemed sound. Plus, he was a pretty  boy. But looks aren’t everything. When we unhaltered him in our pen, he promptly jumped the fence, catching his hoof on the way over and landing on his back. To our great relief, he jumped up unhurt and trotted across the pasture.

The next time we haltered Quartz and tried to take him for a walk around the field, he screamed and spit and screamed and spit. If he had been a dragon, we’d have been toast. We had never witnessed screaming in any of our previous llamas, so we studied our books on llama training and asked advice of other llama owners. We learned that screaming was a sign of fear.

To reassure our new boy, I decided to become one of the herd. I began a daily routine of sitting in the pasture in a folding chair reading a paperback. When Quartz came close, I offered him a few bite-sized training treats purchased from our local feed store. I didn’t want to overdo the commercial treats called apple nuggets; it felt like feeding too much candy to a toddler. Instead, I went online and found a recipe for healthy homemade llama cookies. The cookie ingredients listed grated apple or carrot, oatmeal, molasses, water, vegetable oil, a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar.

The cookies earned the llama seal of approval from both of our woolly boys. Quartz no longer screams or spits. When he sees me enter the pasture, he comes to me hoping I’ll reach into my pocket and pull out a cookie or an apple nugget. He’s learning that the treats are not bribes, they’re rewards for good behavior. With lots of patience and lots of cookies, Quartz is going to become a fine packer and we’re going to be happy campers.

JOURNALISTS IN JEOPARDY

Journalists in Jeopardy

The New York Times reported on August 14, 2013 that Mick Deane, a cameraman for Britain-based news network Sky News, was killed in Cairo. This is a tragic reminder that the life of a journalist is not all glamour and ego. The chilling truth can be a far different thing.

In Due for Discard, the first in my Machado Mystery series, I needed a back story about a Parisian woman television journalist killed on assignment. My research led to a Paris-based site called the World Association of Newspapers. More recently, a New York Times article about Mick Deane led me to discover another organization, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Both organizations keep records of the numbers journalists killed in the line of duty or targeted because of their work. An in-depth visit to these sites is well worth any writer’s time. It is a stark reminder that those who would deny others their basic human rights do believe the pen is mightier than the sword.

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The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, or WAN-IFRA, reports  21 media employees have been killed so far in 2013 as of August 15.         www.wan-ifra.org

The  Committee to Protect Journalists reports 33 journalists killed so far in  2013. http://www.cpj.org