Vital Record » Medicine http://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Mon, 29 Jun 2015 13:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Collaborative curriculum: Students develop palliative care scenarios http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=collaborative-curriculum-students-develop-palliative-care-scenarios http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=collaborative-curriculum-students-develop-palliative-care-scenarios#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 17:51:43 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23756 In the wake of a family crisis with her grandmother, Georgina De la Garza's family turned to her to assess the difficult decisions. Despite a few lectures on palliative care in her first year of medical school, De la Garza was unsure of how to handle such situations. The realization that there was much more for her to learn, for her sake and for the sake of her patients, guided her desire to assist in the development of new experiential training. ]]>

Texas A&M medical student practicing comforting an elderly patient after giving news that there is no more they can do, but keep her comfortable.Georgina De la Garza had only been a student at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Medicine for a year when she went home in summer 2012 to visit her family in Mexico, but the real world doesn’t always stagger challenges as predictably as licensing exams. She arrived home at a moment of familial crisis: Her grandmother was dying, and the medical director at her hospital was a firm believer in aggressive medical treatment, insisting on lifesaving measures even when they could significantly impair a patient’s quality of life.

“My grandma was suffering, and she told us she wanted to stop all of it, and go home and rest,” De la Garza said. “So we took her home.”

Mexico does not have widespread access to hospice care, and in the weeks that followed, the family turned to De la Garza as the expert who could help them navigate the complex and confusing decisions involved in palliative, or “end-of-life,” care, when goals shift from fighting off the disease to maximizing the patient’s comfort in the last phase of life.

“I was the only one in my family with any medical background,” De la Garza said, but her family turned to her to assess each difficult decision. Should they give her IV fluids? A feeding tube? What about a blood transfusion, if her peptic ulcer started bleeding?

“I wanted my grandma to have a dignified death. I wanted her to be comfortable, and I didn’t want to prolong her suffering,” she said. “But I didn’t know what to do. Was withdrawing fluids and food the humane thing to do? Was a narcotic induced coma to relieve the pain ethical? It was all very hard.”

Despite a few lectures on palliative care in her first year of medical school, she admitted, “I really didn’t know anything about what to do in these cases. My grandma’s disease made me realize I needed to learn more…for my own sake and for the sake of my future patients.”

The next fall, De la Garza asked Dr. Craig Borchardt, an assistant professor in the medical school’s Department of Humanities in Medicine and the head of Hospice Brazos Valley, to mentor her as part of a second-year mentorship opportunity. Dr. Borchardt suggested she work with another student, Charis Santini, who had participated in a summer fellowship program on end-of-life care, to develop palliative care scenarios for students to experience in the TAMHSC’s Clinical Learning Resource Center in Bryan, a simulation lab where students were already using sophisticated equipment to simulate medical emergencies and doctor-patient interactions using mechanical and computer simulations and local actors.

Under Dr. Borchardt’s guidance, De la Garza and Santini spent time between anatomy labs, lectures and study sessions writing scenarios for a pair of exercises. First- and second-year students would have exercises appropriate for their level of training, and each exercise would require dozens of case studies—each a “character” with his or her own case presentation, complicating factors, and personal and family details to script.

The workload was, as Santini put it, “a bit of a challenge,” but also helped reinforce what she was learning in the rest of her classes. “It was a great experience to be able to incorporate everything we had learned in other blocks to develop the cases,” she said.

The first- and second-year students, or “M1s” and “M2s,” each face two distinct challenges in the new curriculum. For first-year students, one scenario involves visiting with and examining a patient and determining whether the patient is actively dying; in the other, they must have a difficult conversation with a patient to help them develop an advance directive.

Second-year students must assess patients’ appropriateness for hospice care, an important distinction for Medicare eligibility and coverage for hospice services. They also face perhaps the most unnerving challenge: Delivering the news to a patient that he or she is dying, or delivering news to a loved one that a patient has died.

Each group also has small-group discussions on separate occasions. For M1s, the focus is on practical topics like pain management, hydration and nutrition, and sedation. M2s discuss ethical issues in palliative and hospice care.

After months of research, writing, reviews by members of the Hospice Brazos Valley team of physicians and nurses, and copious revisions, the students were ready for the next phase of their curricular experiment: Piloting the scenarios with the Bryan-College Station campus’ first- and second-year classes.

“Georgina and Charis will leave a significant legacy in advancing our college’s mission to train students,” Dr. Borchardt said.

All that was left was see if it worked.

Story by Jeremiah McNichols

Part 2 of this two-part story will publish on July 2 , 2015.

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College of Medicine student named 2015 Tillman Scholar http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-medicine-student-named-2015-tillman-scholar http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=college-of-medicine-student-named-2015-tillman-scholar#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 15:00:47 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23780 Michael Weipert, third-year medical student at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, was recently announced as one of 60 U.S. service members, veterans and military spouses chosen as 2015 Tillman Scholars. The Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships–building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others]]>

Michael WeipertMichael Weipert, third-year medical student at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, was recently announced as one of 60 U.S. service members, veterans and military spouses chosen as 2015 Tillman Scholars.

The Pat Tillman Foundation was created to honor the legacy of Pat Tillman by investing in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships–building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others. In 2002, Pat Tillman proudly put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following Pat’s death in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan.

Weipert is currently commissioned with the U.S. Navy and was selected based on his military service with both the U.S. Army and Navy, as well as for his outstanding leadership and academic excellence.

Becoming a doctor has been a goal for Weipert for quite some time. He was on-track for medical school when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Whereupon he quickly decided to join the Army instead of going to medical school in order to deploy as quickly as possible. He left college with enough credits to graduate early, commissioned as an officer, then became a helicopter/fixed wing pilot and deployed to Iraq three times.

Though proud of his service as a pilot, Weipert felt he could do more to help fellow service members. While deployed to Iraq, he often volunteered off-duty at a military hospital. One day, due to the number of injured personnel, a doctor asked him to assist with a surgery to amputate a patient’s injured leg. As he stood in the operating room, Weipert vowed to complete medical school and do everything possible to give back as a military doctor.

At the Texas A&M College of Medicine, Weipert is now in his third year of medical school and working toward his goal to become a Military Emergency Medicine Physician to provide casualty care for wounded troops on the front lines. He also hopes to give back serving on medical missions with the U.S.S. Mercy around the world.

“My ambition in life is to ease suffering and help as many people as I possibly can,” Weipert said.

The 2015 class of Tillman scholars will receive more than $1.7 million in scholarships to pursue their higher education and continue their service in the fields of medicine, law, business, government, education, science and the arts. For the full list of 2015 Tillman Scholars, with the service branches, institutions and fields of study from which they were selected, please visit: http://pattillmanfoundation.org/2015class.

“Pat made his mark as a husband, teammate, soldier and brother. He believed we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves,” said Marie Tillman, President and Co-Founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “In their own unique ways, the 2015 Tillman Scholars stand apart for their humility and selfless service in and out of uniform. We are proud to fuel their passion for learning and action, so they can make their mark as leaders for our country and communities.”

The Tillman Scholars Program

Founded in 2008, the Tillman Scholars program supports our nation’s active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses by investing in their higher education. The scholarship program covers direct study-related expenses, including tuition and fees, books and living expenses, for scholars who are pursuing undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate degrees as a full-time student at a public or private, U.S.-based accredited institution. The selection process for the Tillman Scholars program is highly competitive with up to 60 Tillman Scholars chosen annually. For more information on the Pat Tillman Foundation, visit www.PatTillmanFoundation.org.

2015 University Partners

During the 2015 selection process, the foundation was proud to collaborate with 18 University Partners, who offer innovative, veteran-specific services and a proven culture of support for student veterans and military spouses, to identify and select qualified candidates on their campuses for the Tillman Scholar screening process. The 2015 University Partners included Texas A&M University.

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Texas A&M medical students begin inaugural training experience at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas Medical Center http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-medical-students-begin-inaugural-training-experience-at-houston-methodist-hospital-in-texas-medical-center http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-medical-students-begin-inaugural-training-experience-at-houston-methodist-hospital-in-texas-medical-center#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 21:27:59 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23773 A partnership between Houston Methodist Hospital and Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine is offering aspiring physicians and clinician scientists a unique educational opportunity in the Texas Medical Center]]>

College of Medicine students at Houston Methodist HospitalA partnership between Houston Methodist Hospital and Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine is offering aspiring physicians and clinician scientists a unique educational opportunity in the Texas Medical Center. Twenty-four third- and fourth-year medical students attended orientation this week and will begin clinical training and graduate research at Houston Methodist Hospital this summer, with plans to add an additional 32 students by 2016.

This partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital not only expands the educational opportunities for M.D. students, but also expands the M.D./Ph.D. training opportunities. In fact, the Texas A&M College of Medicine expects to add five M.D./Ph.D. students annually. The M.D./Ph.D. degree program offers students the opportunity to work with Houston Methodist Hospital researchers in several areas of translational medicine.

Additionally, the Houston campus will later welcome students from the new Texas A&M University Engineering Pipeline Program which begins in the fall of 2015 and recruits top engineering students from Texas A&M University to the Texas A&M College of Medicine.

“Partnerships with prestigious members of the Texas Medical Center, like Houston Methodist Hospital, will enhance the medical education we offer our students and increase the research innovation in Houston,” said Paul Ogden, M.D., interim executive vice president and acting chief executive officer of Texas A&M Health Science Center, interim dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine and interim vice president for clinical affairs. “This is an exciting collaboration that will expand in the coming years and will significantly benefit both institutions.”

As orientation comes to a close Shraddha Dalwadi, a third-year student participating in the orientation, explained that she is ready for her clerkship experience.

“Being part of the inaugural class at Houston Methodist Hospital is extremely exciting. Not many students have this type of opportunity,” Dalwadi said. “What makes this partnership truly special is the expertise that is coming together to make sure we have a meaningful clerkship experience.”

Houston Methodist Hospital became the fifth Texas A&M College of Medicine campus on July 1, 2014. For more than 50 years, Houston Methodist Hospital has exhibited a strong commitment to providing high quality medical education to medical students and residents under the leadership of some of the most influential names in medicine.  The partnership with Texas A&M furthers the commitment of the Houston Methodist Hospital to continue training medical students and future medical leaders who will be caring for the health and treatment of generations of Texans to come.

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Texas A&M College of Medicine alum elected to American Medical Association leadership position http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-college-of-medicine-alum-elected-to-american-medical-association-leadership-position http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-college-of-medicine-alum-elected-to-american-medical-association-leadership-position#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 12:55:40 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23650 Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine former student, Susan Rudd Bailey, M.D. ‘81, was elected speaker of the American Medical Association House of Delegates. Bailey, who served on the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, brings the Aggie spirit of service to the legislative and policy-making body of the American Medical Association (AMA). ]]>

Dr. Susan BaileyTexas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine former student, Susan Rudd Bailey, M.D. ‘81, was elected speaker of the American Medical Association House of Delegates on June 7.

Bailey, who served on the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents from 1995 to 2005, brings the Aggie spirit of service to the legislative and policy-making body of the American Medical Association (AMA). She has dedicated her career to both treating patients and improving medicine through the profession’s most influential organizations.

“Dr. Bailey is a longtime friend and great Aggie Doctor,” said Paul Ogden, M.D., interim executive vice president and acting chief executive officer of Texas A&M Health Science Center, interim dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine and interim vice president for clinical affairs. “She embodies the Texas A&M pillars of selfless service and leadership. The entire Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine is very proud of her.”

Bailey has a long history of service, beginning as chair of the medical student sections of both the Texas Medical Association (TMA) and the AMA. She chaired the TMA Council on Communication and served as speaker of the TMA House of Delegates before winning election as TMA’s 145th president in 2010.

“I attended my first AMA meeting after my first year of medical school.  The College of Medicine has always been supportive of its students becoming active in medical organizations,” said Bailey. “I will always be proud to tell people that I graduated from the Texas A&M College of Medicine.”

At the AMA, she served as chair of the Texas Delegation, member and chair of the AMA Council on Medical Education, and AMA representative on the board of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. Beginning in 2011, she held the role of vice speaker of the AMA House of Delegates . She also serves as the AMA representative to the Assembly of the American Board of Medical Specialties, and completed a five-year term on the board of directors of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). Bailey has been active in the Tarrant County Medical Society for 20 years, including service as president and chair of the society’s board of trustees.

Bailey entered private practice as an allergist at Fort Worth Allergy and Asthma Associates in 1988. She previously served as an associate consultant at the Mayo Clinic’s department of pediatrics in Rochester, Minn. She is board certified in pediatrics, allergy, asthma and immunology.

After receiving her medical degree from Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine in 1981, Baily completed her residency in general pediatrics and her fellowship in allergy and immunology at Minnesota’s Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.

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Texas A&M Health Science Center celebrates largest graduating class in history http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-health-science-center-celebrates-largest-graduating-class-in-history http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-health-science-center-celebrates-largest-graduating-class-in-history#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 13:18:59 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23639 Texas A&M Health Science Center graduated 639 students at commencement ceremonies across the state last month. This is the largest graduating class to date, and is indicative of Texas A&M’s commitment to educate exceptional health care leaders in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, public health and medical sciences]]>

Graduates gig 'emAddressing the need for highly trained state and national health care professionals, Texas A&M Health Science Center graduated 645 students at commencement ceremonies across the state last month. This is the largest graduating class to date, and is indicative of Texas A&M’s commitment to educate exceptional health care leaders in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, public health and medical sciences.

“As the health care landscape continues to grow and change, so do the needs of our patient populations, but one thing remains the same – the need for compassionate and skilled providers and leaders with a desire to serve,” said Paul E. Ogden, M.D., interim executive vice president and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center. “That desire to serve and the mindset of leading by example is innately Aggie, and is exactly what the members of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Class of 2015 embody as the next generation of health care professionals.”

Graduates for each college are as follows:

Texas A&M College of Medicine – 184 students received a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), 11 a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and one a Master of Science (M.S.) in Medical Sciences.

Since graduating its first class in 1981, the college has welcomed more than 2,200 Aggie Doctors to the work force, with 64 percent choosing to stay in Texas and half of all Texas A&M College of Medicine graduates entering into primary care. The College of Medicine also exceeds the national benchmark with a 97 percent pass rate on the national medical licensing exam.

Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry – 93 students received a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), 30 a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Dental Hygiene, 2 students receiving an additional PhD and 45 students with graduate’s degrees and certificates in specialty programs.

The college has the highest percent of under-represented minority students in the nation, and nearly one-third of all dentists in Texas are graduates of the Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry.

Texas A&M College of Nursing – 112 students received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.). Since its opening in 2008, the college has produced more than 500 nurses to help in addressing the state and nation’s critical nursing shortage. The Texas A&M College of Nursing holds special commendation status from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for pass rate excellence.

Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy – 84 students received a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.). The College of Pharmacy ranks in the Top 50 “Best Grad Schools for Pharmacy” by U.S. News & World Report, and to date, more than half of the college’s graduates remain in South Texas to practice.

Texas A&M School of Public Health – 45 students received a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), 35 a Master of Health Administration (M.H.A), two a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) and one a Doctor of Public Health (D.R.P.H.). The school ranks in the Top 25 “Best Grad Schools for Public Health” by U.S. News & World Report.

Texas A&M Health Science Center’s enrollment across its five colleges and eight statewide campus locations totaled 2,467 students in 2014.

Story by Jonathan Knechtel.

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Fast Facts: West Nile virus 101 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fast-facts-west-nile-virus-101 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fast-facts-west-nile-virus-101#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23587 The influx of rain this season has caused severe flooding across the Southeast, particularly in Texas and Oklahoma. Rushing water is dangerous, but when water stops moving, it creates the perfect breeding ground for something just as threatening: West Nile virus bearing mosquitoes]]>

The influx of rain this season has caused severe flooding across the Southeast, particularly in Texas and Oklahoma. Rushing water is dangerous, but when water stops moving, it creates the perfect breeding ground for something just as threatening: West Nile virus (WNV) bearing mosquitoes.

Reports of WNV-positive mosquito traps have already sprung up in Dallas, which means it’s time to learn the basics about the disease. To help educate us about the most important WNV facts, we sat down with Chetan Jinadatha, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and infectious disease expert.

An Aedes japonicus mosquito has pierced human skin and is sucking blood.

Pools of water can become a breeding ground for mosquitos that carry the West Nile virus.

1. What is the West Nile virus?

The West Nile virus is an arthropod-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or can even be fatal, in severe cases.

The virus has been detected in 48 states, and cases have occurred every summer since 1999, when it first made an appearance in the U.S.

2. How is it contracted?

Since most people are infected through mosquito bites, the virus is most prevalent during the summer months (from June to September), when mosquitoes are more likely to breed. Mosquitoes contract the disease by feeding on infected birds.

WNV is not contagious through normal person-to-person contact. In rare cases, the virus can be transmitted via blood transfusion, organ transplant, or from mother-to-baby during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding.

The people most at risk for contracting the virus are those who work outdoors or participate in outdoor activities. However, anyone living in an area where WNV is present in mosquitoes is at risk.

3. What are the symptoms of WNV?

Two to six days after someone is bitten, symptoms usually begin to show (if they do at all), but it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to present themselves. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 70 to 80 percent of people infected show no symptoms at all. The remaining 20 percent are more likely to develop febrile illness, which is similar to flu-like symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Body aches and joint pains
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

Most people who develop these symptoms make a complete recovery, but weakness and fatigue can last for weeks or months after infection.

In rare but extreme cases (less than one percent of the time), people will develop a serious neurological illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. These illnesses can cause symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

These neurological effects may take several weeks or months to recover from and, in some cases, can be permanent. Approximately 10 percent of people who develop a neurological illness from WNV will die.

4. Can it be treated?

Unfortunately, there are no vaccines or medications to treat WNV. For people who develop symptoms, over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers can be used to relieve some symptoms. People with mild symptoms usually recover on their own, but symptoms may last for several weeks after onset. In more severe cases, patients may need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment for neurological symptoms.

If you suspect that you or a family member has the virus, consult a health care provider to undergo an exam and further testing. Tests using blood samples or spinal fluid may be used to detect antibodies the immune system creates to fight infection that is present in the body.

5. Are there any actions you can take to prevent the disease?

Since there is currently no vaccine, the best method of protection is to prevent mosquito bites. People can do this by applying insect repellant whenever they go outdoors. Repellants using DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products typically provide longer-lasting protection.

In addition to repellant, wear long sleeves and pants, especially during dawn and dusk, when mosquitos are most active. Installing or repairing window and door screens can help limit the number of mosquitoes that enter indoors, as well as using air conditioning when you can. Reduce the number of mosquitoes around your house by draining any nearby standing water. Empty out water-filled containers such as flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes and birdbaths to help limit the number of mosquitoes that breed nearby.

For more information, the CDC has many resources about protecting yourself against the West Nile virus.

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Dr. Paul Ogden assumes helm at Texas A&M Health Science Center http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=dr-paul-ogden-assumes-helm-at-texas-am-health-science-center http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=dr-paul-ogden-assumes-helm-at-texas-am-health-science-center#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 13:11:44 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23575 Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young announced that Paul E. Ogden, M.D., has assumed the role of interim executive vice president and acting chief executive officer for Texas A&M Health Science Center effective June 1, 2015. ]]>

Dr. Paul Ogden

Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young announced that Paul E. Ogden, M.D., has assumed the role of interim executive vice president and acting chief executive officer for Texas A&M Health Science Center effective June 1, 2015. In his current position, Dr. Ogden serves as interim dean for the Texas A&M College of Medicine and interim vice president for clinical affairs. He will continue to serve in this capacity while assuming his new leadership role.

 Ogden is a member of the Texas A&M College of Medicine charter class and received his degree with honors in 1981. After completing his internship in family medicine, followed by an internal medicine residency at the Mayo Graduate School, Ogden went on to complete a fellowship in Academic Internal Medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He has served as a general internist and was involved with medical education at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple for more than 24 years, where he held several academic roles including director of graduate medical education and vice-chair for academic affairs with the Texas A&M College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine. During this time, Ogden honed national expertise in clinical curriculum and assessment, including simulation education. Ogden assumed a full-time leadership position at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine in 2010, when he was named vice dean for academic affairs and brought to fruition a multi-year programmatic expansion to double student enrollment before being named interim dean in July 2013. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, and is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Medical Association and the Texas Medical Association.

 Ogden replaces Brett Giroir, M.D., who resigned from his position as executive vice president and chief executive officer of Texas A&M Health Science Center.  Giroir is an internationally renowned physician-scientist whose work has focused on life threatening infectious diseases. He assumed leadership of Texas A&M Health Science Center in October 2013.  Previously, Giroir served as vice chancellor for strategic initiatives at the Texas A&M University System and principal investigator for the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designed to enhance the nation’s emergency preparedness against emerging infectious diseases, including pandemic influenza, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. From 2004 until 2008, Giroir served in the Federal Government as deputy director, then director, of the Defense Sciences Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Giroir is the recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, and the Texas A&M University System Excellence in Innovation Award in 2010.

 “Over the past year, under the leadership of Dr. Giroir, the TAMHSC Executive Committee has put in place a comprehensive strategic plan, borne from our individual college aspirations and unifying us all in a common vision of Transforming Health,” Ogden said in a memo to Texas A&M Health Science Center faculty, staff, and students. “I look forward to working with each of you to advance those initiatives that are already underway and to continue building upon the strong foundation developed by our faculty, staff and students over the past several years. Thank you for your continued service to Texas A&M and the State of Texas.”

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7 Tips for having a safe, cool summer http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=7-tips-for-having-a-safe-cool-summer http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=7-tips-for-having-a-safe-cool-summer#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 13:00:31 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=20468 As the summer season begins, temperatures soar and the risk of heat exhaustion increases. Dr. Gill of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine offers advice on how to avoid dehydration and heat illnesses]]>

Summer is full of fun times by the pool and barbeques, but it also brings high temperatures and humidity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 618 people die from heat related complications in the United States per year. As the summer temperatures climb and individuals spend prolonged periods outside, the risks of dehydration and heat exhaustion increase.

Kory Gill, D.O., assistant professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and director of the family medicine residency program, serves as team physician for Texas A&M University Athletics and offers a few suggestions on how to have a safe, cool summer.

Photo of a woman drinking a bottle of water in the sun.

It is important to stay well hydrated as summer temperatures climb.

1.    Know the symptoms

An important part of safely enjoying the summer weather is to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion. Gill notes that if heat exhaustion is left untreated it can develop into heat stroke. With heat stroke you can get liver failure, seizures—your organs are basically cooking internally. To avoid a severe medical emergency, familiarize yourself with the signs:

•    Fatigue
•    Headache
•    Lack of sweat
•    Dizziness
•    Weakness
•    Nausea

If you or anyone you’re with begins displaying these symptoms, get to an air-conditioned location immediately and rehydrate. Continue to drink plenty of cool liquids, like water or sports drinks, throughout the day and avoid physical activity for a while. If the symptoms persist or worsen, see a doctor immediately.

2.    Allow yourself to acclimate

Before you decide to spend every possible moment in the sun, take time to allow yourself to get acclimated to the heat. “We’re used to air conditioning now, so when we start spending more time in the heat and sun, our bodies aren’t used to it,” Says Gill. During the first couple weeks, ease into outdoor time so your body can better adjust to better handle the heat and sweat less.

3.    Increase your fluid intake

When you initially start spending time in the heat, your body will need more fluids. To avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion drink plenty of fluids—even if you’re not thirsty. “Thirst is not a good early indicator. By the time you’re thirsty, you are already significantly dehydrated,” says Gill.

Not all fluids work towards staying hydrated, though. Limit your intake of diuretics, such as alcohol and caffeine. These substances cause you to excrete more fluids and can cause you to become dehydrated. It’s okay to enjoy a cup of coffee or a beer, but be sure to consume more water to offset their diuretic effects. If you notice your urine is dark, it is an indicator that you are dehydrated and should increase your fluid intake.

4.    Take breaks

Lazy afternoons in the sun sound appealing as the summer progresses, but remember to take breaks from the sun and heat. Gill recommends that you go inside or sit in the shade from time to time to allow your body to cool off. Taking breaks from the sweltering heat can help you avoid heat exhaustion.

5.    Apply sunscreen

It’s common knowledge that sunburns and prolonged sun exposure can increase your risk for skin cancer, but sunburns can also inhibit your ability to dissipate heat and cool your body.

“When you’re sunburned, you lose your ability to manage heat well,” says Gill. Applying sunscreen will provide the two-fold benefit of protecting you from a painful burn and keeping your ability to regulate your internal temperature.

6.    Don’t layer-up

A common misconception about spending extended periods in direct sunlight is to cover exposed skin. Gill advises against this strategy for avoiding sunburns. Layers inhibit your ability to sweat and cool down. “You want to stay somewhat exposed so you can dissipate the heat,” recommends Gill.

7.    Look at the heat index

It’s logical that higher temperatures increase the possibility of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but checking the garden-variety thermometer doesn’t give you an accurate indication of your risk. Humidity can also affect the perceived temperature, amplifying the heat. For a better measurement of risk, check the heat index for the day. The heat index factors in humidity and temperature, and is usually indicated as “feels like” on a weather app. If the heat index is above 90 degrees, take extra precautions against dehydration and heat exhaustion.

For more tips on how to avoid heat exhaustion, visit the CDC’s website.

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Internet a tool, not replacement, for physician http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=internet-a-tool-not-replacement-for-physician http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=internet-a-tool-not-replacement-for-physician#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 17:30:45 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?p=10863 We’re using the Internet more than ever – checking email, reading up on the latest news and sports scores, even obtaining health information. But regardless what we find about a malady or illness that may be affecting us or someone else, going online does not replace a personal consultation with a physician, says the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine]]>

Person sitting at computerWe’re using the Internet more than ever – checking email, reading up on the latest news and sports scores, even obtaining health information. But regardless what we find about a malady or illness that may be affecting us or someone else, going online does not replace a personal consultation with a physician.

“Your physician adds the human element,” says Kory Gill, D.O., a Texas A&M Physician and assistant professor of family and community medicine at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. “Your diagnosis reached through the Internet may be wrong, or there may be some particular reason you should not use a certain Internet-recommended treatment that you’re not aware of.”

But that doesn’t stop us from looking. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 80 percent of Internet users, or 59 percent of U.S. adults, look online for health information. Another 17 percent of cell phone owners, or 15 percent of adults, have done the same. The most often researched topics are specific diseases or conditions, treatments or procedures, and doctors or other health professionals.

“The Internet is easier and cheaper than going to your doctor,” Dr. Gill says. “There are thousands of sites offering varied advice – some good, some bad, some even potentially harmful. In fact, there is a recent study that shows those using the Internet had higher rates of depression, which may be due to increased rumination, unnecessary alarm or over-attention to health problems.”

According to Dr. Gill, use the Internet to do “homework” before visiting your doctor. And be concise as possible.

“When patients come prepared, it actually helps the visit be more productive,” Dr. Gill says. “We don’t waste time on the simple questions they were able to find on their own, and therefore get to address their more complex issues. And when they come prepared, they’re less likely to leave and later say, ‘Oh, I wish I would have asked this.’ ”

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