The Real Reasons Animals Are Used For Testing

A key focus of my blog is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In the biological sciences, animal models are frequently used to answer human health-related questions in numerous areas. Examples are Pharmacology, Toxicology and Virology. Some sectors are working to eliminate this usage altogether with in vitro and in silico methods, but until then, they are our most reliable scientific models. The following contributed post is entitled, The Real Reasons Animals Are Used For Testing.

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Animal testing is something which is a controversial subject. It has been long used to help companies test things such as medicine and cosmetics as well as food stuffs, and many of the animals who are tested on will go on to lead a healthy life.

Of course, there is a double edge to this sword, and when testing failed treatments and cosmetics on animals it can have detrimental consequences to all. Whether you are for or against animal testing in our world, we have to take a look at the uses it has in the world we live in.

If you have been often unsure about animal testing and what it is used for, these are some of the top reason why animals have been used to test products.

To advance understanding

Science provides the building blocks of the world and when we aim to discover and understand the world, science is key. It is a fact that experimentation allows us to understand science and the world, and in biology, animal testing is something that has allowed us to understand a myriad of things in the past. For example, with genetic testing using samples from different creatures, we have been able to discover the genomes of all living things, and create a roadmap of evolution. We have been able to use Jellyfish DNA to explore the secret of life, as well as using other clever biological mechanisms to heal and innovate. The reason we often test on animals such as mice and rabbits is that they have similar genomes to us, and their body anatomy is similar enough for us to utilise to learn from. Transgenic mice and other specially bred animals are at the forefront of scientific research.

To study disease

Disease is a scary thing, and all living creatures can fall privy to microorganisms and their dangers. Humans and animals share a lot of common illnesses, and as such it is common for animals to be used to study a disease and its symptoms, as well as to discover and test treatments to combat it. For example, rabbits suffer from atherosclerosis as we do, and testing of the disease has allowed humans to make huge advances in treatment. Using an infected animal as a model, we can test and study how a disease takes hold, and what mechanisms happen in the body. This allows us to develop treatments to save animals and humans alike.

To develop and test treatment

As we said above, one of the most prevalent uses for animals in the lab is to allow us to test treatments. By inducing an animal with a specific illness, we can begin to develop and test treatments to see if they have a positive effect. This is something which has always been incredibly important for medicine and it has had a huge impact on the ability we have to treat minor and major illness. Without the efforts of scientists in this way, we would not have treatments for Parkinson’s, Cancer, or Emphysema.

3 Medical Careers For People That Don’t Want To Be Doctors

Three of the focuses of my blog are Career Discussion, General Education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Many individuals don’t understand the multiple career paths they can go into beside becoming a medical doctor. There are actually quite a few options for medical careers. The following contributed post is entitled, 3 Medical Careers For People That Don’t Want To Be Doctors.

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Working in the medical industry is an incredibly rewarding career choice because you get the chance to care for people and improve their lives on a daily basis. But a lot of people are put off pursuing a career in health because they think that it means having to do the training necessary to become a doctor. Some people also feel that they cannot handle the stress and long hours of being a doctor or a nurse. But those aren’t the only jobs in the medical industry, it takes a lot of different skills to keep a hospital running. There are so many great medical careers that most that you might not even know about and some of them might be perfect for you. These are the best medical careers outside of being a doctor or a nurse.

Image From Unsplash CCO License

Pharmacologist

Developing new drugs to treat patients is an incredibly important part of the medical industry. Innovations in medicine can save countless lives and the people that are pushing the research forward have a very rewarding role to play. If you have a keen interest in science and you think that you would be well suited to a research and development role, you could consider becoming a pharmacologist. You will need to get an undergraduate degree in pharmacology and possibly a graduate degree as well, so it can be difficult to move into this field in later life. But if you are willing to invest in education, this could be a great career choice for you.

Phlebotomist

Most people have never heard of a phlebotomist but it’s likely that you’ve been seen by one at some point in your life. They are the people that deal with drawing blood, usually for tests or donations. There are some people that are specifically phlebotomists while others incorporate it into a wider role, like nursing. It’s quite common for people to go through phlebotomy training and then use it as a stepping stone to other medical careers. If you think that you might like to work in the medical field but you aren’t quite sure what you want to do, this is a good place to start.

Medical Science Liaison

Medical science liaisons are a middle man between the companies that develop new technology and treatment methods, and the medical facilities that use them. The majority of medical science liaisons are people that have worked in the medical field in a different role already, so this isn’t a great choice if you’re just trying to enter the industry. They require a different set of skills to what you would find in other jobs in the medical profession. A lot of the time, being a medical science liaison is more similar to a sales job, so if you have good people skills and you like a job that gives you the chance to travel around a lot, this could be ideal for you.

You don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse to work in the medical industry, these are just some of the other amazing career choices you could consider.

Helping Children Find The Favourite STEM Subject

Two of the focuses of my blog are General Education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). It’s one thing to encourage participation in the STEMs, but another key is sparking that initial interest and growing it. Another is helping children find STEM subjects in school that they’ll enjoy. The following contributed post is entitled, Helping Children Find The Favourite STEM Subject.

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It goes without saying that one of the most significant advantages you can give your children is a solid foundation in STEM and everything it has to offer. Some careers and hobbies can enrich a child’s life beyond measure if you just have the right tools and knowledge to get them on their way. How exactly do we help our children find a love of STEM subjects? Can we leave it up to the education system of course, but is there more we can do to make sure our children have the best chance at learning everything available to them?

Photo by Alex Kondratiev on Unsplash

Encourage Experiments
The first thing to remember when encouraging children to have an interest in any subject is to start them young. The most fantastic thing you can do is allow small children to experiment with textures and how things react with each other. A fantastic development for STEM in recent years has been the rise of slime and how young people are enthusiastically experimenting and sharing their results via Youtube without even realising they are sharing chemistry lessons without even realising. The best thing about this is that people are having fun with this subject and it’s a proven fact that children will always learn while having fun! Of course, the downside to this is the mess these experiments cause will always be inconvenient, but try not to squash their creativity too much. Science can be messy!

Read Books
There are so many books available now with subjects such as construction, mathematics and a whole range of science subjects. A child that ‘hates’ Maths may have simply not been introduced in the correct way for them. There are easy to follow books with instructions on how to set up your own projects, and these can be fantastic to explore with your children. Why not take a leaf out of one of these books and set yourself a challenge and see what experiments you can come up with for your family to enjoy together? Ultimately if you show a keen interest and help by giving the children the tools, they need to learn you’re giving them a great gift.

Build
There’s an excellent reason Lego is such a massive success, and it seems like nearly every household owns some at least, that’s because it’s simple, educational and fun! There is an incredible amount of choice available, and most children (and adults!) enjoy building these kits from scratch. This helps develop a fantastic sense of achievement and sets children up for a great start in life. As well as Lego there are some great kits available which include motors and electric circuits that show children exactly how things work. There are even Youtubers sharing information about how to run things from homemade lemon batteries, which, as with anything slightly strange, has captured the interest of many children around the world. All it takes is a spark of interest from the right child at the right time, and you’ll have a little scientist on your hands!

Friends
No doubt you will have a friend or family member that works in a STEM profession somewhere, so why not ask them to give your child an insight into what they do, and the many reasons children should study in this field. Sometimes it can be helpful to have an ‘insider’ view of the roles available, and talking to your child about their possible options when they are older, will make way for some potentially great decisions further down the line. Why not get your child to gather their STEM projects to take with them to your friend/ family members house so they can share their fun ideas and what they have learnt so far.

Youtube
Of course, Youtube is full of ‘noise’, and we aren’t likely to get around that fact, but there are some great Youtubers explaining science and using it to entertain us via their videos. It’s not just all unboxing videos, if you look in the right places, there are some informative and fun videos that children will love to watch. It saves them watching adverts and adds something to their life, ultimately that’s education, but the delivery of this education will always make a difference to the children watching, and if you’re looking to avoid the need for
Debt lawyers such as https://www.mccarthylawyer.com/ then finding out exactly which area of study suits your child sooner rather than later will really save you time, effort and money too.
In addition to the entertainment shows surrounding STEM subjects, including swimming pools full of jelly, there are instructional videos that will help with your maths project or your engineering questions too.

Competitions
Children can be quite competitive, and quite often there are competitions at school, online or even via local companies that will capture the imagination of children, a little challenge goes a long way and the prizes awarded are a great motivator. Why not find out what local competitions are available near you and mention them to your child. They may decide it’s a great idea and will enter with little help. It may even lead to a life long interest in STEM if nothing else as well!

Exhibitions
One way in which children usually find an interest in something they love is via exhibitions touring the country or at museums. Find out which exhibits are visiting your area and see if you get early bird tickets. From planetariums to science fairs, there is something for everyone. It’s also quite common for adults to have just as much fun as the children when it comes to events and exhibitions. These also allow for extra family time without distractions too, so not only are parents helping their children’s futures; it also brings the family closer together too!

Remember that helping your child find their interests is a worthwhile endeavour, and you will all be glad when they find their ‘thing’. Some people admittedly never find that one thing they love and that’s ok, but many people find STEM is the most fantastic thing in the world and can be used for so many good reasons. So know that if your child joins the world of STEM and you encouraged them to find that interest, then you’re doing great things in the world!

Eco-Friendliness You Control

A key focus of my blog is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. There are whole sciences that look at maintaining our planet. Something that likewise touches all of us is the health of the planet. Each of us can play a roll in preserving the planet earth. The following contributed post is entitled, Eco-Friendliness You Control.

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You know those situations where you know you’re not doing something 100% correctly, but other people do it, so you do it anyway. Those times when you have a little voice inside your head telling you what you’re doing is wrong, but you choose to ignore it? I think that describes most of our relationship with being environmentally friendly and considering our ecological footprint. One thing that is firmly in the public eye is the effect meat-eating has on the environment. And before you say it, no one is saying not to eat meat.

Photo by Karsten Würth (@karsten.wuerth) on Unsplash

The idea is to eat less of it. As producing cheap meat is exceptionally harmful to the environment, we should try to restrict our intake. And looking at the amounts we consume, that makes a lot of sense. And there will be loads of people who have taken this to heart and started doing meat-free days, or perhaps have gone vegetarian or even vegan, a lot of people would have read up on it and decided that it’s a bridge too far for them. It’s quite the lifestyle change for most, especially as we are bombarded with delicious looking burgers and chicken on pretty much all marketing channels.

Simple Things to Save the Planet

Perhaps the better way to approach is to look at things that don’t affect our lifestyle as much. We can just go about our lives, being more considerate of the environment, but not really giving up on things. A key one would be where you get your electricity from. Obviously, renewable is the way to go.

In most cases, getting your electricity from renewable suppliers isn’t even more expensive. It usually takes a simple application and switches to feel instantly better about your power. Another low-impact way to be better for the world is to recycle correctly. A separate paper, glass, tins and plastics bin. It usually takes up to 10 minutes per week, the same time you might spend longer in bed on a Sunday morning. Then there is avoiding single-use plastics, such as water bottles. Carry a reusable water bottle around, it’s now one of the most common things, and you will not only be creating less waste, but it’s also better for your wallet too!

Sustainability at Work

Then there are things you can do and influence at work. Most companies will have a soapbox-style employee suggestion sessions where you can propose things a company can do. One that makes an immediate impact is asking the company to recycle. Or to use recycled paper for printing, or even suggest an only-print-when-absolutely necessary policy. You could ask for promotional material to be sustainable and eco-friendly, find out more here. You could possibly suggest a stricter sleep-timer on computer screens. You will see that most companies will welcome these type of suggestions and it sometimes really need to come from employees to start something off.

So, no one is asking you to stop eating meat, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure a better planet tomorrow. Sure, not eating meat will get us there so much quicker, but sometimes even an endless journey starts with the first step.

How Can You Stop Your Lab From Landing Negative Results

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and STEM. Medical labs are critical pieces in the healthcare industry as they help doctors understand the maladies that their patients face. Just like academic and industrial labs, it’s important to still do quality science. Doing so will assure continued business. The following contributed post is entitled, How Can You Stop Your Lab From Landing Negative Results.

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Image Source – CC0 License

Medical labs are the backbone of the healthcare industry. From the development of new medications to the diagnosis of conditions; it all starts and ends in innocuous-seeming labs just like yours. As such, most of us have come to hold entrepreneurs within this industry in high esteem. Still, assuming this positive industry reputation will save your lab would be naive. Life-saving heroics aside, medical labs are as liable as any business to stumble into difficulties and even face failure.

If your lab-provider relationships keep turning negative, then, you may soon face issues. Instead of moving forward with misplaced ideas about saving the world, you need to address why things are going wrong. We understand that this can feel like a distraction from your ‘higher purpose’, but failure to get to the bottom of this will stop you from saving lives down the line.

That’s why you need to keep reading to find out how you can turn those negative results into a positive that saves your lab’s life.

Store samples properly

Collecting samples from patients can be a time-consuming and expensive process for medical professionals. If you carelessly ruin the integrity of said samples by failing to store them properly, it’s no wonder you aren’t making any friends.

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It’s incredible how easy it is to contaminate or ruin results by getting this simple point of your processes wrong. What’s more, there is no one-size-fits-all standard for how you should and shouldn’t treat each test that comes your way.

Of course, there are some basic staples, such as a lab refrigerator from Rollex Group and companies like them. You should also be sure to keep vials well-sealed, and within uncontaminated areas. For some things, though, such as specific blood tests and skin samples, even more specialist storage will be necessary.

Whatever you do, never play guessing games when it comes to this. Everytime something unknown comes into your lab, do thorough research into which storage processes you should put in place. If in doubt, it’s even worth asking the healthcare professional who’s sending it your way. Better that than risk making a mistake and having to come crawling later on. Once you have some idea, make notes. That way, you’ll always be able to implement proper storage processes for repeat samples down the line.

Implement a team who work well

There’s no getting around it; qualified lab technicians can be downright expensive to employ. The role requires intense training, after all, and the best teams are those who have a fair few years of experience working within the industry.

To save costs, though, it’s tempting to hire inexperienced staff who are fresh out of the classroom. And, guess what? This could be another fatal flaw for your lab’s success. Of course, all new graduates have to start somewhere, and taking on college-leavers could even work if you leave experienced members of your team to train them.

If your team solely consists of cheap and inexperienced team members, though, you’re fast heading for trouble. In this instance, you would be far better off hiring less staff with more experience. That way, you can balance costs and still enjoy results you can trust in.

It’s also worth noting that your team needs to have decent teamwork structures in place if your lab is to see any real success. A lab team have to collaborate on everything from test times to results across the board, after all. If your employees aren’t talking, things are never going to come together, and clients will never get the results they expect.

Make sure, then, that your team understands the importance of talking to each other about what they’re doing. You could even arrange a few group team working activities to bring the point home.

Speed up your processes

Whether your lab focuses around diagnostics or research, slow processes are never going to work in your favour. If you have a healthcare professional waiting on results, delays mean that they look bad in front of patients. You can bet that they wouldn’t hesitate about turning to a more trustworthy lab as a result. Equally, excessive delays from a research perspective could see the findings you’re working on or similar being released by another lab in the interim.

Of course, speeding things up is never worthwhile at the detriment of your work. A rushed research study is evident from a mile off and will never buy you the respect that you need. Still, it is possible to quicken your processes without compromising your work.

We’ve already mentioned the importance of teamwork. That alone can go a long way towards making sure everyone works faster with the information they need. The correct equipment, too, can speed processes no end. And, of course, a system which sends results straight to healthcare computers could lessen lost time at the end of your research. All while ensuring results land straight into the correct inboxes in no time.

Image Source – CC0 License

Make sure your insurance is inclusive

Lastly, lacking insurance policies could become significant nails in your lab coffin if you aren’t careful. The fact is that you’re dealing with lives, not just faceless samples. Everything you do (or don’t do) can create a ripple effect. And, this is what your insurance policy needs to account for.

If a doctor ends up getting sued for a misdiagnosis off the back of your test results, for example, you need to ensure that you have the correct malpractice and liability insurance in place. Mistakes happen, and results don’t always get things right. Still, this would ruin relationships anyway if a healthcare provider had to foot the bill due to your lacking insurance policies. Make sure, then, that you implement the correct insurance at all times, and keep your plans updated.

Negative results aren’t something we embrace in any lab, especially when they’re of this kind. Make sure that you’re able to turn things around as soon as possible to bring much higher levels of success to your lab door.

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.

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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

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