Does an Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle Have to be Expensive?

A key focus of my blog is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Fortunately our society has become more environmentally conscious than ever before and is embracing environmentally friendly lifestyles. More people are thinking of how to preserve the environment as much as possible. The following contributed post is entitled, Does an Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle Have to be Expensive?

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We all know about climate change and the damage that we have been doing to our planet. We know that how we’ve been using it is starting to have an effect and that our children and grandchildren face growing up in a very different world if we don’t begin to do something about it. It’s widely reported in the news, there are countless documentaries about our planet and how we need to fix it, and we’re being told in a variety of ways, what we should be doing differently and why. The “I didn’t know” excuse no longer flies. We all know.

We’re not good at making sweeping changes, nor are we good at admitting fault, or facing up to what is coming. So, new excuses have developed. One of the main ones is that we can’t afford to make the changes needed. We can’t afford to change suppliers, buy sustainable fashion or organic food. But, that excuse isn’t good enough either. Leading an environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, it can even save you money if you do it right.

https://pixaby.com/illustrations/bulb-nature-ecologycurrent-2368396

Reuse As Much as Possible

A big part of being more sustainable is throwing less away. Every time you put something in the bin, you are contributing to filling landfills or putting plastics into the oceans, but you are also throwing money away.

Instead, try to reuse as much as you can. Don’t buy anything that you know you will only use once. Instead, spend a little more on something that you can use again and again. A reusable water bottle is a perfect example. It will cost more than a cheap plastic bottle of water. But, fill it up with tap water or even rainwater from your Clark Tanks, and within a few weeks, you’ve got your money bag and throw much less away. You can also use reusable wipes, cloth diapers for your babies, reusable makeup remover wipes, clothes around the house instead of wipes and handkerchiefs instead of tissues.

Buy Less

Reusing things allows you to buy less. But, there are other ways to do it. Instead of spending money on cheap clothes and fast fashion that you’ll only wear once, invest in quality items that you’ll wear often and will last a long time.

If you’ve gotten bored of your furniture and fancy something new, ask yourself if you could make easy changes, or upcycle your pieces into something new, instead of just throwing it away and buying something new.

Visit your local library instead of buying books, take sandwiches out instead of buying fast food and if you do need to buy something, first look in charity shops, at yard sales, and on online auction sites.

Take from the Earth

The best way to live a green lifestyle and save money at the same time is growing things for yourself. Grow your own fruits and vegetables, start a small herb garden, and even try scavenging for berries and seeds. Then, make your food last longer by freezing extras for another time.

Amahl Dunbar discusses his new Helmet Tubing Impact System (HTIS) invention

While one of the purposes for the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields is the pursuit of new knowledge, a second purpose is to use that knowledge to create new innovations and products to improve our lives. Likewise, while one of the goals of my blog is advocacy of STEM awareness, a second goal is to use my platform to give exposure to others and their own projects. The following interview – the first of its kind on my blog accomplishes both goals, and it aligns with one of the principles of my blog which I haven’t discussed much up to this point; Creative Thought. Creative Thought is a key component of all the innovations that have emerged from the STEM fields that have changed the world.

Over the past couple of years, inventor Amahl Dunbar has worked on an invention to increase the safety of football helmets; the “Helmet Tubing Impact System” (HTIS). He recently agreed to the following interview to give the world a glimpse of the HTIS, to introduce his new idea, and his goals for it going forward. The pictures used in this post of the HTIS attached to football helmets were graciously shared by Amahl Dunbar himself.

Anwar Dunbar: Hello, Amahl. Thank you for agreeing to talk about your new system for making football helmets more protective. As my brother, I know who you are and what you’ve been doing. For the readers though, talk a little bit about your background. Haven’t you always been a ‘design and build’ type of guy?

Amahl Dunbar: Yes. Around the time I was in the third or fourth grade, I enjoyed using hand-held tools to disassemble and re-assemble my toys. My “Transformers” toys were very complex in terms of design. They were an endless puzzle of hinge, sliding, and ball joints. Usually I’d have everything reassembled before our mother got home from work. In parallel with those experiences, I began to do the same process with my bikes, though when it came to bikes, the stakes were higher because a bike could fall apart while in motion. Over all, I have more years of experience learning the visual arts versus engineering or product development.

Anwar: At Hutch-Tech High School, didn’t you major in Architecture?

Amahl: Yes, I had dreams of an office-oriented career. Architecture is more of a ‘design studio’ career. During high school my understanding of Architecture was limited. I thought it was just good to design. Years later, I learned the best forms of Architecture involved designing and customizing around the lifestyle of the occupants.

Anwar: How did you come up with the idea for the HTIS?

Amahl: The idea for this invention came to me while watching an NFL game during the 2014 or 2015 season. A highly valued player for the Buffalo Bills took a bad helmet-to-helmet collision. As I watched this player writhing in pain, it occurred to me that the standard helmet is as much a weapon as it is a system of protection. Also, I thought the sound of a helmet to helmet hit may be damaging to players as well. Imagine being inside of a large speaker when it receives sudden microphone feedback or static. The sound would be jarring, disorienting, and unpleasant.

Anwar: What makes your system unique from what’s currently on the market?

Amahl: The Helmet Tubing Impact System (HTIS) is lighter than similar exterior helmet products. It distributes forces ‘longitudinally’ versus absorbing or muffling direct strikes. The tubes are transparent, so team colors and logos stay visible.

Anwar: Are you referring to something like the “Gazoo” helmet shell that the Buffalo Bills’ Mark Kelso used the wear?

Amahl: The Gazoo was never brought to the mainstream market, which speaks to its effectiveness. Most products that attach to the exterior of helmets are modeled after boxing head gear. From that perspective, players are still receiving a muffled version of helmet strikes. Those products are made of foam and absorb impacts without dispersing the forces. The HTIS distributes forces cylindrically and longitudinally.

Anwar: We see a lot of head and brain-related injuries in American football. Is your new system designed to prevent paralysis? Concussions? Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?

Amahl: Those conditioned athletes won’t escape the wear & tear of American Football. The HTIS will lower the amount force in head impacts over years of practice and play for players. Specialists in those fields have found that the repetitive and cumulative number of impacts is what hurts players over the long-term.

Anwar: Now I imagine at this point, you’ve legally protected your system, you’re being very prudent in terms of whom you’re sharing your data with. In terms of your initial findings for the HTIS, what have you found thus far in terms of its ability to mitigate the force of collisions? Which test have you used to generate your data?

Amahl: As of now I do have a patent on the HTIS. I used the “Weighted Swing Test”. This test shows that the HTIS lowers impacts forces by an average of 70 – 73%. Again, the force of helmet strikes is distributed over the soft, cylindrical, hollow, plastic surface area of the tubes. The HTIS is designed to divide the linear and rotational transfer of impact forces.

Anwar: What are your plans for this going forward?

Amahl: In the near future, I’m looking to form an LLC for production and sales of the product to individual customers, teams, and leagues. I’m open to licensing or selling the patent, if a fair offer is presented.

Anwar: If anyone wants to directly reach out to you regarding the HTIS, what’s the best way for them to contact you?

Amahl: If anyone would like to contact me for sales or to purchase the patent, contact me at amahldunbar@gmail.com

Anwar: Well thank you, Amahl, for sharing your exciting project. Do you have any other comment?

Amahl: Yes. The HTIS has the best chance for success of them all.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. Please visit my new YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

5 Interesting Careers In Science You Should Consider

Three focuses of my blog are Career Discussions, Education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). It’s a good time to get into one of the STEM fields. There are particularly numerous career opportunities in the Biomedical Sciences. The following contributed post is entitled, 5 Interesting Careers In Science You Should Consider.

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Photo by Ousa Chea on Unsplash

The first thing to come to mind when thinking about a career in science is most probably the image of a lab technician in a white coat, mixing chemicals. You wouldn’t be wrong that a fair few careers in science involve this, and they are very much worth considering as a career. You shouldn’t forget that you do have sciences such as medical sciences, theoretical sciences, physical science, life sciences in roles such as zoologists and even some food hygienists need to have a background in biology. The level of education can vary from college level right through to 10 years and up at university levels and often the schooling is continuous is a career in science. Have a look below at three lab coat careers you should consider when thinking about science.

Pharmacist
With a wide variety of job role options, a pharmacist is definitely an attractive career option in science. A pharmacist is responsible for managing all the aspects of a commercial or hospital pharmacy. On top of this, they are also responsible for sourcing and dispensing medications, a pharmacist makes sure that each individual patient receives the correct medication and dosage. Often if in a hospital pharmacist will even attend patient rounds to help consult and advise physicians. You can expect to study for around 8 years to reach this level and it’s advised that you look into a college degree in biology, chemistry or pre-pharmacy.

DNA Analyst
Often seen and known because of crime dramas a career as a DNA Analyst could be a very rewarding and interesting path to take. It plays a critical role in crime investigation and you will work closely alongside criminal investigations. They are sometimes referred to as forensic biologists, someone in this line of work would look at things such as blood, saliva, body fluids and hair found at crime scenes and deliver the DNA results to the criminologist for their investigations. It’s considered a highly important role, especially as a lot of investigations, now rely on DNA as a reliable source of conviction. Sometimes they are even asked to testify and appear in court and it can become a night and day job as unfortunately, crime doesn’t sleep. A college degree in biology is a necessity for this job. You should also look into taking extra courses in forensics, such as toxicology and drug analysis.

Biomedical Engineer
If you’ve dreamt about changing the world or finding the next big cure in medicine, then this is the career for you. Using sophisticated technology and equipment such as test tubes, DNA extractors and a 96 well plate in research facilities, laboratories and hospitals to conduct research biomedical engineering is a type of science that is continually developing and adapting to find the next solution. Some people choose to use their knowledge to educate in teaching positions and pass on their skills. You will need a high level of education for this type of role and you can expect to study continuously to adapt along with science. Looking at an array of courses is ideal for this role such as chemistry and physics. You may also find it beneficial to complete an internship in a biomedical engineering laboratory to gain the essential practical experience to you will need for your own lab.

Do you have any other careers in science that should be on this list? Please share them in the comments section below.

Maximizing Your Laboratory Spend

A key focus of my blog is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Whether you’re running a lab in academia, in industry or in some sort of government capacity a key consideration are the amounts being spent to accomplish the mission. Labs that are run wisely tend to stay open longer than those that aren’t. The following contributed post is entitled, Maximizing Your Laboratory Spend.

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https://pixaby.com/photos/lab-research-chemistry-test-217041/

It does not matter what sort of laboratory you own or run, one of your most important tasks will be to maximize your spend. After all, labs do not have unlimited budgets, and so they need to make sure that their funds are being put to best use. There are a number of different ways you can do this, so read on for some critical information.

Identifying whether to buy – There is only one place to begin, and this is by identifying whether to buy. Of course, there are going to be somethings, like basic instruments and testing materials, like synthetic urine, which are simply a necessity. However, there are other items that are considered nice-to-have, rather than being a necessity. Therefore, you really need to think about whether you should buy this equipment, or whether leasing would be better. When you consider the rapid pace of technological innovations today, you could easily buy something and then it could become outdated very quickly. This is why it is a good idea to consider leasing in a lot of circumstances. Nevertheless, if you know the equipment is going to be used again and again, buying could be just the thing you need.

Compare prices and suppliers carefully – There are many different tools online today that enable you to compare products across all industries, and the same goes when it comes to laboratory equipment. Nevertheless, you still need to be careful when you purchase. You should make the effort to ensure that all of the suppliers you are considering are 100 per cent legitimate. The last thing you want is to end up falling victim to a fraud company who either does not supply the products at all or does not supply lab-grade equipment. Doing a bit of digging and reading reviews that have been left by others are both essential steps.

Look for ways to reduce spend without taking any risks – The final piece of the puzzle is to look for different ways that you can save some money without taking a risk in terms of the quality of your equipment and your supplies. There are a number of different ways that you can go about this. For example, you can simply try to negotiate with your vendor. This is more successful than a lot of people realise. In addition to this, you should find out whether there are any discounts for group purchases or bulk buys, as this can lead to significant savings overall.

We hope that this blog post has assisted you when it comes to maximizing laboratory spend. There is no denying that money management is critical for any business but when you are involved in something as vital as lab work, there is heightened importance on making sure you maximize your funds. Use the tips provided above to make sure that this is the case.

Dr. Cedric Bright discusses his path towards medicine and the current medical landscape

One of the focuses of my blog is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and my most central principle is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. While we tend to think of clinical medicine as strictly a ‘Healthcare Profession’, its foundations are rooted in the Basic Sciences. Medical Doctors/Physicians are likewise scientists who specialize in patient care and healing sicknesses.

I recently met Dr. Cedric Bright in person through a mutual acquaintance at a family gathering. I’d heard of him through conversation, and I think I’d previously seen him before, as he was among the many physicians on Twitter using the ‘hashtag’ ‘#BlackMenInMedicine’. It turns out that Dr. Bright, the Associate Dean of Admissions at the East Carolina University School of Medicine , coincidentally knew Dr. Qiunn Capers, IV, whom I first saw using the hashtag.

At the gathering, Dr. Bright eagerly answered the questions of numerous medical school hopefuls who were in attendance. As they asked him questions, he in turn asked them questions about their preparation, their academic performance, standardized test scores, experiences in clinics and overall ambitions. At the recommendation of the host of the gathering, I listened in on Dr. Bright’s discussions and was fascinated by what he had to say.

With my blog having both education and a science focuses, and with me also knowing many medical school hopefuls, I seized the opportunity to ask Dr. Bright for an interview and he agreed. In the following interview with Dr. Cedric Bright, we discuss his background, his path into medical school and his career, and finally the current landscape of medical education – specifically what medical schools are looking for in prospects. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.

Anwar Dunbar: Thank you for the opportunity to interview you, Dr. Bright. Medical school has long been the destination for many undergraduates, and many people will love to hear what you have to say about what the journey towards practicing medicine entails. With that, can you talk briefly about yourself? Where are you from? What got you interested in medicine?

Cedric Bright: I’m originally from Winston-Salem, NC. I grew up there and attended a private boarding school. My parents were both public school teachers and believed in trying to give me and my brother every advantage we could have to be the best that we could be. They were of the ilk where, ‘This generation needs to do better than the last generation,’ and my parents made sacrifices for us so that we could go to private boarding schools.

From there I was accepted to Brown University for my undergraduate studies. I returned to attend medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). I did my ‘Residency’ back at Brown. I stayed on as faculty there for four years, and I wrote a paper which was published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, looking at perceived barriers in medical education by race and gender. That led to me being recruited to Duke University and the Durham VA-Medical Center. I spent 13 years there before I was recruited to come back to Carolina (UNC). I spent eight years at Carolina, and just left three weeks ago to come here to East Carolina.

AD: So, let’s go back to the beginning of your journey. Your parents – were they science teachers or were they teaching other subjects?

CB: They were general public school teachers. My father taught math and science in middle school, and my mother taught second grade in elementary school.

AD: What inspired you to become a medical doctor? Did you have a mentor in medicine? Also, are you the first medical doctor in your family?

CB: I’ll tell you that I’m not the first doctor in my family, but I also never met the person who was. He is a distant cousin on my grandmother’s side. I don’t recall hearing stories of him, though I’ve seen pictures. In terms of myself, my father being an educator brought home books for me and my brother to read. It was a series describing what doctors, nurses, engineers, fireman, police, etc., “do”. After reading those books, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, and my brother wanted to be an engineer. Fast forward 20 years, he’s become an engineer. Fast forward 25 years, I’ve become a doctor.

AD: During your journey, were there any challenges in your undergraduate studies or throughout medical school itself? Or were you a ‘straight A’ student where the road was all set for you?

CB: I was nowhere near a straight A student, but I was a hard worker. My parents put me in some courses that taught me how to study. In doing so, they helped me with my concentration. I probably would’ve been diagnosed as “Attention Deficit Disorder” (ADHD). I still have lot of ADHD tendencies now in my old life.

I learned techniques on how to manage my thoughts, my ability to focus, and even with that I had some academic difficulties. I learned how to use the system – how to ask for help – how to not be afraid to admit that I didn’t know something. I learned how to visit teachers during their office hours, and how to spend time after class working on things. I learned how to ask my colleagues who were willing to help – all those types of things.

I did reasonably well in high school. I particularly did well in Chemistry; my teacher was my football coach. I was quite fond of him and he helped me understand Chemistry very well, such that I did very well in it in college.

I did quite well my freshman year in college. Subsequently, I had the ‘sophomore slump’. I pledged a fraternity the spring semester of my freshman year, and I came back and ‘acted’ that fraternity the first semester of my sophomore year, and my grades summarily crashed. At that same point in time, I decided that I didn’t like Biology anymore and I didn’t want to do Chemistry. I decided that there must be something else that I could major in. Low and behold I’d taken some courses in Film because I’d been interested in it, and so I decided that I’d major in it.

AD: Oh, interesting.

CB: My Pre-Med Advisor said, ‘You don’t have to major in a science to go to medical school,’ and I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to take you at your word on that!’ So, I ended up majoring in Film (Semiotics), and what it taught me was how to understand non-verbal communication, understanding how the body moves and when a person’s body is or isn’t reflective of their verbal statements. Being able to interpret my patients better, I think that helped me in the long-term.

AD: Interesting.

CB: So, I pulled my grades up my next two years after my sophomore year, and I think that’s why I got into medical school. My grade point average (GPA) wasn’t great – it was less than a 3.0 and I’ll leave it at that. I had to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) three times to get a score that would at least get me noticed. I think the final score that I got was a 27. I only applied to two medical schools and I got into the UNC, which was crazy.

After getting in, I was advised to do a summer program and I’m grateful that I was. It surrounded me with like-minded individuals. The first thing I tell young people today is to make sure you do some type of summer program to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. They become your colleagues of the future.

AD: Interesting.

CB: The program also helped me to understand the difference between undergraduate-level and graduate-level studying. Had I not done the program, I’m sure that I would’ve had more academic difficulty during my first year.

AD: So, you’re referring to the complexity of thought and….

CB: And the amount of time you must put into it. For instance, I was used to studying maybe an hour or two a day, and then ‘cramming’ towards the end and still being able to get a good grade. You can’t do that in medical school. In medical school you must put in four to five hours every day. You must put in six to eight hours on the weekend – it’s a ‘grind’ and you must get used to that grind. You have to become disciplined and not fall prey to the ‘Jedi-Mind Tricks’ that your classmates would throw on you by saying that they spent the whole weekend hiking the Appalachians. They might have hiked a mile, but they spent the rest of the time studying. They want you to think they didn’t. So learn not to fall for the Jedi-Mind Tricks. Everyone is working hard in medical school.

AD: Jedi-Mind Tricks (laughing). What was your ‘specialty’?

CB: My specialty ended up being ‘Internal Medicine’, but that’s another story.

AD: Okay.

CB: Let me finish this point. I prayed before I got into medical school. I said, ‘Lord, don’t let get into medical school if I’m not going to graduate!’ So, when I got in, that took a load off me because I knew that I’d prayed and that he’d answered my prayers and I knew that I would graduate. The question then became how. I’d done the summer program, but my first semester of medical school, seemingly on every test I was one to two points above passing and I wasn’t ‘killing’ it by any means.

I was the last man on the totem pole probably every time and on every test. At the end of my first semester, I passed three of my courses, but I failed one by less than a half a point. So, I ended up having to remediate that course during the summer, but after coming back from the Christmas break, I realized that I couldn’t do the same work that I’d been doing and working the same way. I had to change my study habits.

For the most part, I’d studied with one of my frat brothers. It worked well, but it didn’t work well enough. So I said let me branch out and see if I can study with some other people. So I started studying with some other people who didn’t look like me and I started finding ways in which they studied that reminded me of the study programs my father had put me in back in the day. I started re-utilizing those study techniques and suddenly, I began to thrive. I had to make an adjustment and go back to a study technique that really helped me out when I was younger, and it turned out to be the elixir that I needed in medical school.

From that point on in my second year, I moved into a house with six to seven other medical students. Each night we’d study until about 10 to 10:30 at night and we’d come out to the common area of this house and have this massive ‘Quiz Bowl’. The whole point of the Quiz Bowl was for me to take the most esoteric fact that I knew and try to stump them, and for them to take the most esoteric fact that they knew and try to stump me.

Now here’s the key Dr. Dunbar. If I stumped them, I had to teach them. And if they stumped me, they had to teach me. The effect of that was that by the time we got to the exam, we’d asked so many questions of each other from so many different perspectives that there weren’t too many questions on the exam that we hadn’t already discussed. So like a ‘rising tide’, we all did very well. What that speaks to is how you work in medical school to get the ‘volume’. It’s not aptitude that impedes people’s progress in medical school, it’s dealing with the volume.

It’s kind of like trying to eat an elephant. If you’ve got one person trying to eat an elephant, it takes a long time to do it. But if you’ve got seven to eight people trying to eat the elephant with everyone describing what they’re biting and how it tastes, the texture of it, you get to know the whole elephant, but you just ate a part of it. Does that make sense to you, sir?

AD: Yes.

CB: So that’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned about approaching large volumes of work. If you approached it first being responsible for taking care of your own individual preparation and coming together and working with other individuals who have put in their own individual preparation, you can work very effectively as a group. But it first starts with individual preparation.

AD: Okay, so there’s a component there that requires individual preparation and then there’s a teamwork component there.

CB: That’s correct. The individual preparation gets you to 50%, but that team component gets you to 90%.

AD: That makes sense. When I first got to graduate school, I was used to working by myself, and I discovered that I couldn’t do that and get the grades that I needed. Just quickly, which fraternity did you pledge?

CB: I pledged Omega Psi Phi.

AD: In term of my next question, you discussed this at the gathering where we met, and it really resonated with me. When I was an undergraduate student at Johnson C. Smith University in the late-1990s, many of us pondered practicing medicine, but few of us thoroughly understood what it took to get into medical school. Aside from the academic credentials, what are some of the personal qualities aspiring medical students need to be successful and, in general, what are you all looking for? I remember you saying that you want them to have touched patients before.

CB: That’s true. We want to see that you’ve had a journey of learning about the didactics and the science component, yes, but also about the humanity – doing volunteer service for people less fortunate than yourself. This helps you to understand the social determinants and sometimes the behavioral determinants of health, and how they manifest themselves in our community.

We want you to have spent some time doing some type of hands on patient care, whether its learning how to take blood pressure, learning how to take vital signs in the doctor’s office, or being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and helping to triage patients and get them to the emergency room. Or it could be just driving an ambulance to take people to their regular hospital visits, being a nurse, or being a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) doing the hands-on dirty work in the hospital. Lastly, it could be being a pharmacy tech spending time working in a pharmacy where people are coming in asking questions about their medications. And helping them understand the side effects, and reactions from other drugs and things of that nature or being a hospice volunteer to helping people with end of life issues.

These are the types of things we’re looking for hands-on wise. There are a lot of smart people in the world, but there’s a difference between being smart and having intelligence. We’re looking for more intelligent people than we are smart people. Smart people know how to answer questions. They can get a question right all the time, but they don’t know how to talk to people. They don’t know how to deal with the ‘human component’. Intelligence is knowing what you know and being able to apply it to the people in front of you at the right time, for the right person, for the right reasons.

AD: Now in that same vein, if I recall correctly, in terms of determining why students want to attend medical school, you’re not looking for canned, ‘cookie cutter’ answers. You want to hear some depth to their answers, right?

CB: Yes. The ‘depth’ comes in multiple ways. For example, when someone writes about their experiences, I don’t care so much about what they did, I want to know how it made them feel. I want them to be able to share with me if there was a significance that changed their view of death if they worked in a hospice; how they think the healthcare system works as the ‘donut hole’ as it goes to prescription drugs.

I want them to be able to share if they know the significance of how nurses are so overworked and have too many patients, such that a CNA becomes so very important; how to take care of people in the hospital, or how to take care of people in the clinic as a medical assistant. Why (what was your motivation)? What did you feel? What did you observe? What did you learn? That’s more important to me than what you did.

AD: So, this is my last question. The landscape of medical education and medical school, has it changed since you were a student yourself? We have a lot of technology now. People communicate differently. I’m sure the actual medical approaches have changed. Can you talk about how things have changed from then to now?

CB: I think when I was coming through, we didn’t have as many imaging tests and diagnostic procedures, so our touch to the patient became more important. Doing the appropriate physical exam was enough for you to come to a diagnosis. You didn’t have to have an X-ray. You didn’t have to have a ‘CT’, because if you did your exam right, you knew what your exam told you. Now we depend too much on technology to tell us what’s wrong with a person, and it doesn’t always equate to us finding the right answers on how to take care of people.

I also think that our technology and having to ‘keyboard’ so much on these electronic records takes us away from the human touch – the humanity of medicine which is the one-on-one conversation with our patients because we’re too busy ‘charting’. Our eyes don’t meet enough. Patients wait months to come see a doctor, not watch a doctor type. Seeing a doctor means we have eye-to-eye contact and we talk as two human beings intimately in one setting, and I think that’s becoming a lost art in medicine. Doctors are under time crunches to see more patients and to make the same amount of money, or to make more money.

AD: I think that rolls into my last two questions. I know that every student is different, but on average, what are the major learning points for the medical students when they come in, because I imagine that these are all very bright individuals. What are the main things they must learn? Is it what you described for yourself? Or is it something else?

CB: I think the main thing they need to learn is that it’s not their aptitude that’s going to determine their altitude, it’s their attitude. If they come in with the right attitude of wanting to learn, and sacrifice whatever it takes to learn, and not come in with the attitude of, ‘I’m not doing this or, I’m not doing that’. That just doesn’t work in medicine. They also must learn how to deal with failure. The thing about medicine as with all walks of life, Dr. Dunbar, is that we all fall down. There’s no shame in falling down and we shouldn’t fall apart the first time we fail.

But what we should do is learn from the mistakes that we’ve made. Learn from what has occurred, grow and move forward, and get back up. I like to say that there’s no shame in falling down. There is shame in laying there. And don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that their life is perfect. All that is, is a mask. We all fall down. We all have imperfections. We all fall short of the glory.

AD: My high school basketball coach used to tell us that exact same thing about attitude and altitude. My last question is going to be a little more global. Under the Obama Administration, we had the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and now that’s kind of been stripped down. In terms of the medical field itself, do we still have enough doctors? Is it still a thriving field?

CB: It’s very much a thriving field, and there will always be a need for doctors. I wholeheartedly believe in that. Artificial Intelligence will never be able to replace doctors, because they don’t have the touch. There’s more than enough need for physicians and, in many places, we’ve said there’s going to be a shortage of physicians in the future. That’s because we have areas where more physicians are passing away than physicians are being made.

The ‘Baby Boomers’ are probably a third of our physicians that we have in the workforce and they’re retiring at a rate of almost 1,000 every month. So, we’re going into a crisis of having more physicians retiring than those who are graduating. It’s a very interesting dichotomy and the American Association of Medical Colleges has been preparing different reports to show that. I was actually looking at one the other day.

The bottom line is that there’s a two-fold problem. We’re not making enough doctors and doctors are retiring, or we have enough doctors and there’s a maldistribution of doctors. Some would argue that theory. We have enough doctors, but all of our doctors want to practice where there are other doctors. But in actuality, we may need to redistribute them so that they practice in other areas that are rural and have less physicians in that area.

AD: Well, Dr. Bright that’s all the questions that I have. Thank you for your time and for sharing your path and knowledge and expertise about the medical field. A lot of people will benefit from this, and I look forward to doing it again.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed it, you might also enjoy:

Dr. Quinn Capers IV discusses Implicit Bias and the #DropAndGiveMe20 campaign
Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education
The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
How my HBCU led me to my STEM career
Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Taking Care of Contamination Inside The Medical Factory

A key focus of my blog is STEM. While we tend to focus most of our attention on the practitioners, a major part of the Healthcare Industry is the manufacturing. With the products being intended for use on patients, it’s critical that they have no contamination and be as sterile as a possible. The following contributed post is therefore entitled, Taking Care of Contamination Inside The Medical Factory.

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When it comes to healthcare, most of us think about family doctors or hospital staff. Some may even spare a brief thought for those in research labs. Either way; we always tend to reach for obvious choices. That’s because they’re the positions which have most impact on the experiences we have when we go to our local health facilities. Many people forget that there’s also manufacturing involved in every aspect of health care. From the machines used to treat us to the medicine we take; someone has to make it in the first place. And, it’s this neglected manufacturing process which we’re going to focus on today.

If you’re interested in health care without the patients, this could be the ideal career solution for you. Even better, the fact that this side of the business so often gets forgotten means that you could soon become a forerunner in the industry. At least, you could if you remember one important factor.

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Let’s face it; factories are usually pretty messy places. We’re talking oily hands and overalls which haven’t seen the wash in weeks. On a medical manufacturing line, though, hygiene is everything. If you approach your factory with a mess in mind, you’ll soon find yourself shut down with lawsuits on your hands.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent that happening. First, let go of that messy mechanic idea you have of how your factory should be. Then, consider the following ways to make sure your health care factory is as clean as a doctor’s surgery would be.

Are you working to FDA standards?

The biggest thing you need to bear in mind is that the FDA have strict regulations for anyone manufacturing medicines of any kind. The Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMPs) should be the first port of call for anyone looking to break into this industry. You need to know the rules inside out to ensure that your factory and processes are as clean as they can be. In many ways, you may also find that this guideline helps you to get going in the first place. In short, CGMPs ensure that every process and method you have in place works towards a safe and reliable product. These guidelines are essential when you consider that you as the manufacturer can’t necessarily ensure product quality any other way. While testing is also essential, it’s not a sure-fire way to ensure quality across the board. But, CGMPs are. Once you’ve done your homework and built a safe space for production, it’s essential that you get an FDA member to approve what you’re doing. They’ll be able to pick out both what you’re doing right, and what you’re getting wrong. That alone can be a huge help in your battle against contamination.

The equipment you use

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It is also worth bearing in mind the equipment you choose. This can both help you to keep everything sterile and pose a risk of its own. First, consider whether production equipment meets with the standards mentioned above. Machinery which makes life easy is crucial in any factory, but it’s even more critical in yours. That’s because fast and machine-focused processes are your best chance at keeping things clean. You want regular sanitation along your production line, with air blowers which can dry products fast after they’ve been disinfected. You also want machines which package your products for you without risk of contamination along the line. More than being useful additions, machines like these are essential for a safe production line. You also want to make sure that you’re sanitising your machines themselves. That means cleaning them regularly, and even keeping certain devices covered when not in use. If your team also rely on one-use items along the way, you should keep these in sterile packaging until your team come to need them each day. You need to think, too, about the equipment required for your products themselves. These are at the worst risk of contamination because they come into your factory from outside. It’s worth ordering separately packaged items in coatings which you remove the moment they arrive. You can then carry all products into your warehouse, safe in the knowledge that they’re sanitary. All the better to ensure you aren’t bringing contaminants into your space.

The staff involved

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Speaking of bringing contaminants into your space, you also need to think about your staff. They are, after all, the only outside factor aside from your production materials. The first thing you need to do is make sure that they’re well trained in the health and safety aspects of what you do. You may find it beneficial to hire those who have worked in similar fields before. That way, you guarantee that they already understand at least some of your processes. It’s also worth putting every team member through intensive FDA-approved training before letting them into your factory space. On top of all those precautions, you also need to consider the uniforms you provide. As we mentioned at the start of this post, the majority of warehouses involve scruffy overalls and hi-vis jackets. Whatever happens, you need to make sure you aren’t making that mistake. The clothes your staff members wear in this space need to be as sanitary as everything else. That means newly washed items every single working day. You should also consider sterile covering for everything from hair to shoes. Your staff may end up looking like they’re dressed for surgery, but these are necessary precautions. Think how much harm even one misplaced hair could do. It could see your factory shut down, that’s for sure, and isn’t a risk worth taking.

As you can see, a lot goes into keeping a factory like yours safe and sanitary. As much as they sound like hard work, these processes will soon become second nature to you and your team. Then, you can enjoy what you do without having to worry all the time that it’s about to blow up at you.

Cultivating A Profitable Farm In The Long-Term

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and STEM. The agricultural industry has been around for centuries, and there are many things you need to know to get into it and to be able to turn a profit. The following contributed post is entitled, Cultivating A Profitable Farm In The Long-Term.

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The agricultural industry is one of the oldest on the planet, so it’s no surprise that thousands of farming entrepreneurs try to find their spot in the marketplace. Of course, as stable as the industry is as a whole, individual businesses have to work hard to stand their ground in the long-term. As a farmer, you have to plan and carefully look after your land so that you have viable produce to sell to the market. It can be a difficult business model to figure out. What does it take to cultivate a profitable farm in the long-term? Let’s talk about that in this post.

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Always account for overhead costs.
If you want to create a profitable farm in the long-term then you need to think about the expenses of running your operations. Many part-time farmers who make money through a career or other business ventures don’t concern themselves too much with this aspect of operations. They might not see their labor as an expense, for example, because this is all a fun hobby to them. As a result, their business seems pretty profitable. But hobby farms aren’t always profitable enough to stand on their own two feet. If you want to create a farm that is sustainable in the long-term and profitable enough to provide for you and your family if you’re going full-time then you always need to account for overhead costs. Of course, the costliness of running a farm often incentivizes farmers to increase their prices. But as a small farm that’s trying to stand out in the industry and build a client base of local grocers or consumers, you might not want to increase your prices too much. You might want to reel in customers with fair and decent prices.

That’s why the goal is to focus on your overheads. How can you cut costs without cutting the quality of your products and services? This is the question that causes headaches for so many entrepreneurs in all manner of industries. The answer is to budget smartly and assess individual expenditures. For example, you could save money on the energy bill necessary for running your farmhouse (the base of operations) by getting solar panels. It’s an investment that’ll save you money in the long run because you won’t be relying on the grid. Sometimes, in order to reduce long-term costs, you have to make wise investments. People say you’ve got to spend money to make money, but the smartest piece of business advice to remember is that you’ve got to spend money to save money. For instance, you could buy in bulk from your supplier in order to save money; that’s why it’s important to form strong lasting relationships with local businesses and people in your community. We’ll talk more about that later. If you’re going to cultivate a profitable farm in the long-term then stay on top of your monthly budget, track your expenditures, and find ways to use your funds wisely so as to keep costs low but maintain quality control.

Do your consumer research.
If you want to cultivate a profitable farm in the long-term then you need to do your consumer research. Making money is all about giving the market what it needs. You can’t push products or services successfully if there’s no market for them. Run surveys or simply talk to people in your local area. Get an idea of what people want from farms such as yours or your farm specifically. This is how you get an advantage over the competition. You need to talk directly to existing and potential customers. In turn, you’ll be able to develop a business which stands out from the competition in the marketplace.

Your goal is to create a brand for your farm that resonates with people. You need to make a connection so that clients want to choose your business over the competition. You might be selling similar types of produce to your rivals, so how are you going to stand out? Perhaps you could run your business in an eco-friendly manner so as to prove to the market that you care about the planet and not simply making money. You might want to look into getting an ASC certification in sustainability if you farm salmon produce. That’s an example of taking a step towards creating a more ethical business that impresses consumers. Just make sure you do your research so that you can start to create a farm which your target audience wants to see.

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Build a local reputation.
If you want to cultivate a profitable farm in the long-term then you need a loyal client base. This is true of any company in any type of industry. But in the world of farming, it’s all about the local community. Unless you build an international farming empire, you’re probably not going to start connecting with corporations and consumers all over the world. That might be the dream for your business in the future, but you need to take things one step at a time. For starters, you need to build a local reputation. You need to target retailers and consumers in your area so as to build a name for yourself. Go to the local market and pitch your produce to sellers. Find your place in the local industry. Once you win over the hearts (or bellies, rather) of local businesses and people, you’ll start to build up a loyal following. That’s how you’ll get repeat sales and achieve stability through a regular client base. It’s also how your business will start to grow. Happy clients spread brand awareness through word of mouth. But your farm can’t expand until you start building a reputation in your local area. Start small.

Make money with your land in many ways.
You might want to focus on your particular niche in the agricultural marketplace, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore opportunities to utilize your land in other ways. If you want to cultivate a profitable farm in the long-term then you need to pursue every potential opportunity to monetize your land. You could offer riding lessons if you own horses, for example. You could even sell tickets to people who might want to look around your farm to admire the animals or simply learn how the entire process works. You own a business that’s fascinating to people in many ways, so make the most of that fact. Look for all potential sources of revenue so that you can make your farm as profitable as possible.

So many small farms fail before they even get started. It can take several years to start making a decent profit from the land, so it’s important to keep working at it. It’s a gradual process. You need to continuously grow your business, as entrepreneurs do in any industry. The key to cultivating a profitable farm in the long-term is to create a viable and sustainable business model. You need to learn to continuously budget, research, and develop your business so as to keep it relevant in an ever-changing and ever-competitive agricultural marketplace.

How Aquaponics is Changing Agricultural Practices

A key focus of my blog is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. All industries evolve and Agriculture is no different. “Aquaponics” is becoming a viable alternative to traditional terrestrial Agriculture. The following contributed post is thus entitled, How Aquaponics is Changing Agricultural Practices.

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Image Credit: Unsplash

Agriculture is an industry under a lot of pressure. As the world population increases and the climate changes, there are more and more issues when it comes to producing enough food for everyone. Indeed, when you consider the number of people starving in some countries and the number of people dying due to conditions caused by overeating in others, there’s clearly a problem.

Luckily, there are plenty of scientists looking into new ways to improve everything from crop yield to energy and water consumption. One way that scientists and farmers are experimenting is through the use of aquaponics. This is the combination of fish farming and crop farming and though it sounds weird, there are plenty of advantages to consider.

Crops Meet Fish

When large farmers choose their crops, they tend to go for miles and miles of the same thing. This is fine in theory but it isn’t as good for crop yield as polyculture. If you want the best results from nature, you should look at what nature does well. There’s a reason that plants are literally growing on top of each other in the rainforest – the plants are helping each other flourish.

One of the main reasons that aquaponics and crops go so well together is that fish create a lot of waste that plants really enjoy. Plants need a lot of water to grow and, surprise surprise, fish are pretty hot on water too. When you look at the very basic needs of each, there is a remarkable amount of crossover – even where waste products are concerned.

Though fish obviously need a lot of water to survive, the water they use can be used over and again. Rather than using large hose pipes to push water out into the atmosphere where most of it will evaporate, this water is circled again and again between the fish and the plants. This idea is so simple that just a Shinmaywa 50cr2.75s pump would do the trick.

A Circular System

In order to survive, fish require plenty of fresh water. Unfortunately, fish excrete waste including ammonia which can have a devastating effect on the water they live in if it is not removed.

In order to survive, plants require plenty of water and nutrients. Luckily, one of the nutrients tomato plants particularly love is ammonia. In fact, for the tomato plants to thrive, they actually need the waste water the fish need to be rid of.

By combining the two problems, a circular system is formed. The plants filter the excess nitrates out of the water and ‘exhale’ clean water through their leaves which is collected on the ceiling of the greenhouse.

As our needs increase the pressure on our planet grows exponentially as a result of our activities, it is important that we can find better ways to produce food without having to damage the environment to get the results we want. There is always a solution in nature if we look carefully enough and, strange as it sounds, aquaponics could be just that.

How To Make Your Business More Eco-Friendly

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Whatever your business is, its important to think about how you can make your operations eco-friendly. The following contributed post is thus entitled, How To Make Your Business More Eco-Friendly.

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With global warming becoming an increasing concern, it’s more apparent now than ever that more businesses need to do more to help the environment and be more eco-friendly. So here are a few ways you can make your business a little greener!

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Go Digital

A lot of businesses can end up using monumental amounts of paper and other stationery every year. Not to mention the cost of it can really impact the profits made on a business. Therefore, it’s beneficial to go digital with as much of the organization as possible. If documents can avoid going to print then save them on your computers. A lot of businesses are going digital because there’s plenty of positives to it. It’s greener, and it’s much more cost effective.

Recycle

It’s no surprise that a lot of businesses, particularly those within cities, may not be so hot on recycling. If your business is unable to print less, then at least you can make an impact by recycling it. The paper and waste you do recycle can go back into making recycled products and materials that are biodegradable. Encourage this practice around the workplace, having clear bins for general waste and recycling. Put up signage and tell heads of departments to take charge of their own area’s waste.

Energy Efficient Equipment

Nowadays, there’s a lot more choice in equipment for the workplace whether that’s a certain type of printer used in the workspace or a kettle for the kitchen. If you have the budget, try buying new appliances for the office that are energy efficient. Yes, it might be an expense, to begin with but over time it could end up saving you a lot of money on utility bills and overall running costs within the company. It’ll also cut down those scope 1 emissions if you’re currently using a lot of fossil fuels in your business.

Introduce Flexible Working Hours

Fewer people in the building means less energy used in the workplace on a daily basis. Introducing flexible working hours has plenty of benefits if it’s something you are able to do within the organization. A lot of employees are after the right balance of work and life, and with flexible working, this gives them the freedom to work smarter and enjoy life more. The business will earn more loyalty and respect, but it’ll also mean the cost of running the office will be noticeably less.

Encourage Staff To Go Green

As a business, you have a certain influence over your employees, and if you promote a greener environment in the office, you could also make a change to your staff’s own lifestyle at home. Do your best to encourage a greener living environment from giving incentives like cycling to work schemes or gift cards for promoting greener living.

Being more eco-friendly is going to save money for business, helps with the health of your staff and benefits your local community. So what are you waiting for? Go green today and contribute towards a better earth.

Dr. Quinn Capers IV discusses Implicit Bias and the #DropAndGiveMe20 campaign

One of the focuses of my blog is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and my most central principle is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. While we tend to think of clinical medicine as strictly a ‘healthcare’ profession, its foundations are actually rooted in the ‘Basic Sciences’. In late 2017, I discovered Dr. Quinn Capers IV on Twitter one day by chance and started following him when he was tweeting about medical education at the Ohio State University. The hashtag he used in most of his tweets, #BlackMenInMedicine, further piqued my curiosity.

Last year I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Capers about his path and #BlackMenInMedicine. To see our 2018 interview go to Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education. Dr. Capers recently granted me the opportunity to interview him a second time. In this follow up interview we discuss the concept of ‘Implicit Bias’, why it’s important, and the hashtag, ‘#DropAndGiveMe20’. The images in this interview were graciously shared by Dr. Capers himself. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Anwar Dunbar: Hello, Dr. Capers and happy New Year. I want to thank you for the opportunity to interview you again. As the Dean of Admissions at the Ohio State University’s Medical School, your words are very, very valuable, especially for students aspiring to attend medical school. Before we get into ‘Implicit Bias’, the last time we spoke we spent quite a bit of time on the hashtag #BlackMenInMedicine. I now see you using a second hastag, #DropAndGiveMe20. Where did this hashtag and the whole push-ups piece come from? Did you start that?

Quinn Capers: The #DropAndGiveMe20 campaign is a great story. I’m a big fan of Ohio State University (OSU) Football. For years, while watching the games on television, I’ve had a fun routine of doing 10 push-ups every time they score a touchdown. I picked push-ups because they don’t require equipment or much physical space. They’re a good measure of overall upper body strength and they get your heart rate up. Mostly, I wanted to feel like I was exerting myself while the players were on the field exerting themselves. It’s just fun.

I’ve done it at sports bars and experienced both strange looks and strangers joining in! In November 2017, my wife recorded me doing this after an OSU touchdown and I thought it’d be cool to put it on Twitter to spark excitement among OSU football fans. I got a few responses, but the best one was from an interventional cardiologist at UCLA, Dr. William Suh (he is now a great Twitter friend or a “Tweep”), who said he could top that; and would do 20 for every UCLA Bruin touchdown. So he did 20, then when OSU scored another touchdown, I did 20.

AD: Ohio State Football. Yes, you all beat my Michigan Wolverines yet again (laughing).

QC: Well, we both had Twitter followers who are cardiologists and since heart doctors love promoting exercise, they joined the fun and challenged other cardiologists. I guess you could say that Dr. Suh and I are the “co-founders” if you must, but it has grown so fast and so many are responsible for spreading it that it really is a group effort now. It grew quickly to include other specialties, non-physicians, and even patients. In fact some of the most regular and awesome participants are patients; one a heart transplant survivor. They’re simply incredible.

It grew fast under the hashtag “#DropAndGiveMe20” and it’s now international with participants all over the world posting clips from places like the following: Sydney (Australia), London, and Lagos, Nigeria. We post daily and give each other positive feedback, hold each other accountable, and promote wellness and exercise. One of my main goals is to promote exercise as a way to improve heart health and to show that you don’t have to wait to go to a gym, since it can be hard to work a full day and plan to go to a gym afterwards. I’ll usually post clips of myself doing push-ups during my work day in the cardiac cath lab, in my office between meetings, or even in an auditorium after giving a lecture. Others have posted clips in unusual settings, like at dinner parties.

AD: Nice.

QC: I’ll tell you about two of my favorite clips. There’s a very famous female cardiologist who posted clips of herself doing push-ups at the airport terminal awaiting her flight. A prominent British cardiologist topped that by doing his on a moving walkway at London’s Heathrow Airport (not recommended, by the way)! We have great fun adding humorous wrinkles to it, like adding more and more people in a clip. I suppose I took it to new heights recently when I concluded a live simulcast lecture to a group of medical residents in Cameroon by asking them to do push-ups with me! They complied and we completed what might be the first, simultaneous, international push-up session!

I also take the opportunity to share my love and knowledge of jazz, hip-hop, and R & B/Funk music. My clips are always accompanied by a musical selection from my collection. I always credit and tag the musicians (if they have a Twitter handle), hoping to spark curiosity about certain hidden gems and send my Twitter followers “digging in the crates” to support the music. I was beyond thrilled when two different artists supplying the soundtrack to my push-ups responded to my tweet, the hip hop group “Digable Planets” and saxophone legend Branford Marsalis!

It’s great fun, and a very friendly Twitter community has grown around it. We now arrange to meet up at conventions (cardiology or otherwise) and do a “#DropAndGiveMe20!” Regarding the health benefits, doing push-ups can provide positive reinforcement in a relatively short period of time. Last November I could barely do 25 at one time, now I can max out at 43. Anyone is welcome to join the fun. If you can’t do 20, start with 1 or 2 push-ups! By the way, Dr. Dunbar, you and your readers are welcome to join anytime. Just record yourself, post it on Twitter with the hashtag “#DropAndGiveMe20” and tag your colleagues to get them involved.

AD: Okay, Dr. Capers. I haven’t done push-ups in a while, but now I may have to see if I can crank out 20 (laughing).

I noticed that after starting to follow you, ‘Implicit Bias’ became something you started addressing. How did this come about? What should the general public, and particularly those looking to get into medical school, understand about it?

QC: Implicit bias is a negative or positive attitude towards a person or group that occurs outside of our awareness, intention, or control. Although these biases occur outside of our awareness, they can influence behavior, possibly resulting in well-meaning people treating others differently based on race, gender, age, etc. I came across the concept as a cardiologist interested in racial healthcare disparities. Disparities have many causes, like social determinants of health, housing discrimination, unequal access to the best care, outright racism (explicit bias) of practitioners, structural bias in the healthcare system, etc.

I became intrigued with the notion of implicit or unconscious bias and its potential role in unequal treatment. Several studies have shown that a physician’s unconscious association of negative thoughts or words with a particular race or gender can be associated with therapeutic decisions that are harmful to persons in that group. For instance, one widely quoted paper had physicians take the computer-based implicit association test (IAT) that’s designed to uncover implicit associations or biases (free, available at implicit.harvard.edu) and then review case vignettes of a black or white male suffering from a heart attack.

Doctors were asked if they thought the symptoms of chest discomfort were indicative of a heart problem and if they’d treat the patient with a life-saving drug to terminate the heart attack. Physicians whose IAT showed “implicit white race preference” or an unconscious association of a white person’s face with good words (love, joy, warmth) and a black person’s face with bad words (danger, misery, trouble) were less likely to treat the black patient with the drug despite the black and white patients having identical presentations (1). It is important to note that this is not racism, which is a conscious, explicit bias. But implicit bias can potentially have life-and-death consequences in healthcare. While not all studies of implicit bias show an association with a doctor’s decision-making, enough do to cause alarm.

AD: That’s interesting.

QC: In addition to being a cardiologist I have the great privilege of serving as the Associate Dean for Admissions at the Ohio State University (OSU) College of Medicine, and I’m responsible for overseeing the recruitment, interview, and selection processes for our incoming medical students. When I reviewed a paper that showed that approximately 70% of a large group of physicians taking the IAT have implicit white race preference (2), I immediately pictured our medical school admissions committee and the fact that it is composed largely of physicians, and I had several questions: Do the physicians charged with the awesome responsibility of deciding who will become a doctor have implicit racial biases? If so, to what extent? If so, might it influence their decision-making and put black and Hispanic applicants at a disadvantage?

We set out to answer these questions and had our entire committee take the race IAT in 2012. Aggregate results revealed that a significant portion of the committee (between 50 and 70%) had an implicit white race preference. Next, Dr. Anthony Greenwald, implicit bias expert and one of the inventors of the IAT, led the committee in a discussion of implicit bias and how to reduce it. In the very next cycle we matriculated the most racially diverse class in the history of the college, suggesting that we are able to overcome implicit biases. This was the first paper to document the presence and extent of implicit racial bias in the medical school admissions process (3).

Our results indicated to us that we could have what we thought was a fair, objective process, on the surface, but that unconscious biases could put certain groups of candidates at a disadvantage. Since then we’ve had robust discussions about implicit bias and annual workshops on bias mitigation. I recently completed a training program leading to certification to moderate implicit bias workshops, and I do so twice a month. This goes beyond admissions and is open to the entire medical center. So far we have trained over 1,000 physicians, nurses, staff and students in bias mitigation strategies. It is a real passion and we are trying to make a difference.

AD: Thank you for that in depth explanation. Is there anything new at the Ohio State Medical School?

QC: We’re always tweaking the curriculum to help produce physicians who are ready to advance healthcare. We’re on the cusp of a new expansion with blueprints for a new hospital building and a health professions education building. And finally, we are continuing to leverage the fact that we have one of the most diverse medical student bodies in the country to enhance medical education and community outreach. In other words, we are continuing our forward progress.

Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you and your readers. Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year!

AD: Thank you, Dr. Capers. I look forward to talking again and trying the push-up challenge.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you’ve enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:

Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education
The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
How my HBCU led me to my STEM career
Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU
A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?
A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. I’ve recently started a YouTube channel, so please visit me at Big Discussions76. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add my RSS feed to your feedreader. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.