Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Break Today

Here's me in a virtual operating theater on the University of Washington medical campus performing a brain examination on a patient I'm about to send into cardiac arrest.

I'm taking a break today from my usual blogging to reset my brain after four days of the Association of Health Care Journalists conference in Seattle. One of the reasons I went there was to expose myself to health issues outside my usual mental health beat and to learn from the people who cover these issues. Just to give you some context, immediately prior to the virtual operating room visit, I was in a lab with top TB and malaria experts. Immediately after, it was the wonders of long distance medical operations over the internet with robotics and functional robotic hands to attach to patients.

There was also lots of stuff on general health issues, such as universal health care coverage and how the environment (which means whatever life throws our way) impacts on our health.

Trust me, every little thing I picked up from the conference gave me new perspective on the issues I cover here at "Knowledge is Necessity" and mcmanweb.com. TB and malaria may seem a long way from mental illness, but I came away with valuable insights on medical research and drug development that would have eluded me otherwise. On and on it went.

Also, I learned a lot simply by hanging out with fellow health journalists. These are people who provide a very vital public service under extremely challenging conditions. Their role generally goes unappreciated, but when you read about how doctors are performing unnecessary liver transplants or that statins may bring down cholesterol but don't actually significantly reduce heart attacks or what a family with a kid with bipolar has to go through - well - you are finding out only because a journalist has bothered to dig out the facts in the first place and report them in plain English. (These were actual stories that received top awards at the conference.)

Anyway, barring something unforeseen, I'll be at the next AHCJ conference.

In the meantime, back to pretending I'm working ...

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