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No matter what doctors, nurses, technicians, and other hospital staff do – medical care will never be good enough. The decisions made can always be better, mistakes will be made, and people will die. Perfection is a dream for most people, but it can be a nightmare for many people in the medical field. What if this was done, would the patient still be alive? This problem should have been noticed earlier. The answer to this illness is unknown. And yet, doctors are at the epitomy of respected professions. Health care may be a gray area, but care is not. The responsibility of people in the medical is to do their best, not to be perfect. People will entrust their own lives to someone who’s best action is determined, not necessarily by what’s right or wrong, but more so by the situation itself.

What happened to Heath Ledger was not a fluke. Research done over ten years showed that fatal medication errors have increased almost 4 fold since the early 1980s. The release of this information is merely coincidental, but if the death of a celebrity can’t get people to educate themselves about medications, then this research certainly won’t. Ledger did not die of some strange circumstance, and people need to be aware of the reactions they might have to their medications, changing their medications, or consuming street drugs or alcohol in addition to medicine. Just as importantly, doctors, nurses, other hospital staff, and pharmacists need to help inform patients about how to properly deal with using medication and the seriousness of the possible consequence from deviation (citation: medline plus).

The United Nations has reported that the number of people killed by AIDS has gone down for the second striaght year. This is, itself, incorrect since AIDS is an “immune deficiency” and other health issues actually cause death. Nonetheless, it shows that the lives of people living with AIDS has been extended, or rather their deaths have been postponed. While this is happening, the total number of infections is still rising. It is good that we are improving medications and treatments, but we are losing the battle that is most important; prevention (citation: reuters). Even in the United States, there are some areas that have been reported to be as bad as some places in Africa. With all the money going towards the AIDS fight, it seems our approach is not working.

While I attended the Summer Medical & Dental Education Program at UVA I wanted to do something to give the program more publicity. It is an excellent program for anyone hoping to enter med or dental school, but very few people know about it. Many of the applicants, including myself, only found out about it by searching the net. The program has more than high enough quality to be recommended by advisors and publicized through schools. I tried to get the local news channel to do a short piece about the program, but that fell through. I should have also tried the newspaper, but I didn’t get around to it. However, I recently realized that a blog entry might possibly reach as many people as any other method I had considered:

There is a committment to the medical field and a service to the health of people, in the present and in the future that constitutes duty beyond expectation. The Directors of the Summer Medical & Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at the University of Virginia have devoted many years, in some cases 2 decades, to the education of future doctors.  The attending undergraduate students have sacrificed six-weeks of the summer to gain knowledge for the benefit of others. They come from all around the country and all over the world to join for a shared cause. Every weekday a minimum of nine hours, and often more, are devoted for learning different subjects, preparing for medical school, experiencing different career opportunities, and focusing on serving people. But the story does not end there. Even though the students originate from aound the world, they were prepared to dedicate their time and energy to Charlottesville and the surrounding community. The feat performed by the students, the directors, the speakers, and other particpants deserve recognition.

This summer I attended the Summer Medical & Dental Education Program at the University of Virginia. As an aspiring doctor, the six weeks were more than worth the time and effort. During the program numerous doctors came to speak to our group of about seventy students on varying topics; everything from plastic surgery, urology, and optimology, to cardiology, radiology, and endocrinology. One of the lecturers, Dr. Cato Laurencin has been acknowledged as one of the top researchers in the world. We were also allowed to enter the anatomy lab where we saw a cadaver and an unfortunate collection of fetuses. In the autopsy area, we handled organs that were normal and damaged, included a human brain, heart, and lung. In smaller groups we toured different areas of the hospital, including the futuristic radiology area. Also, we had a chance to interview people at an elderly care center near Charlottesville. The people running the program were by far some of the most dedicated, caring indivivuals I had ever meet, and the culturally diverse participants were kind and talented. The most important part of the program, even more so than any of the great things I learned, is the friends that I made.