New Threats On The Horizon

Most people see bugs as just pesky backyard nuisances. But as more housing springs up in once-rural areas, suburbanites are coming in much closer contact with mosquitoes and ticks capable of transmitting serious illnesses. And sometimes, a bug bite can mean big trouble.

What’s more, because many bug-borne diseases cause flulike symptoms, they can often be misdiagnosed and result in potentially serious complications. Doctors usually suspect an insect-related disease if you know you’ve recently been bitten or have spent time in a wooded area. The diagnosis is confirmed through a blood test.

“People should be aware of these diseases, and take precautions,” says Duane Gubler, Sc.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) division of vector-borne infectious diseases, in Ft. Collins, CO. The best protection is prevention, especially in prime mosquito territory: woods, wetlands, marshes, and lakes. When possible, wear long sleeves and long pants while in these areas. On exposed skin and on clothing, always …

Medical Training Goes Beyond Books And Practice

During the first two years of medical school, students intensively study the sciences that form the basis of medical practice. These courses have traditionally been taught through lectures and laboratories and tested by rote recall of literally thousands of pieces of information. This model hearkens back to a previous era when physicians were expected to master all the scientific knowledge that then existed as the foundation of medicine. The explosion of biomedical science over the last several decades has rendered this once challenging task now frankly impossible.

THINK, AS AN EXAMPLE, of our knowledge of infectious diseases over the last 50 years. In 1944 bacteria and viruses had been discovered, but little was known about how they caused disease. The entire antibiotic armamentarium consisted of sulfa and penicillin. Medicine had nothing else to offer for a multitude of fatal infections.

Today, we know about many thousands of disease-causing organisms and scientists regularly discover new ones. The hospital where I work

Give Credit Where It’s Due: Citing In Writing!

cwIn the recent movie Seven, Brad Pitt tracked down a killer who modeled his crimes after the seven deadly sins. If the killer had taken a more professional view of sin, he might have plotted quite differently. For a doctor, I suppose, the great sin is leaving a sponge in the patient. For an accountant, it’s got to be moving money from your clients’ ledgers to your own. And for a writer, of course, the deadliest sin is plagiarism.

Every writer has heard stories of careers ruined by a single, inexplicable slip of passing someone else’s work off as his or her own. Yet every writer also knows the importance of thorough research, including hitting the books with secondary sources–in short, using other writers’ work. So where’s the line between deadly sin and dogged reporting? And how do you keep from crossing it without losing your own readers in an ocean of attribution (“according to a story by Jane Schmoe …

Writing Part-Time – Feasible For A Living?

wptfIt seems like everybody’s doing it. Part-time writing, I mean. This past summer, for example, full-time First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton started a weekly newspaper column for Creators Syndicate of Los Angeles. Full-time singer/songwriter Judy Collins was plugging her first novel, Shameless. And Little, Brown announced it was advancing full-time actor Ethan Hawke $300,000 for his first novel.

If they can do it, why can’t we?

Of course, for every part-time writer who snags a $300,000 advance, there are hundreds of other writers who struggle to pay for postage. Part-time writing has many rewards, but big money isn’t always one of them. A 1994 survey conducted for the Authors League Fund reported that the median hourly wage for “limited part-time” writers (those giving it fewer than 30 hours a week) was $3.47. And that was the good news. Part-timers who spent more than 30 hours a week at it earned a measly $2.96. In my own experience, I’ve had years …

7 Steps For Organizing Your Articles

7sfoybLet’s say you’re writing a piece titled “How to Grow Bigger and Brighter Begonias.” Before you start writing, organize your research material through a system of indexing and filing; you must know where everything is and how to get at it easily. (If your notes or interview transcripts aren’t extensive, you can simply number your notebook pages, then make a list of broad information categories with references to page numbers.

* Stop thinking of your article as an article. Concentrate only on the first step-your opening. What is it about growing begonias that most interests you? What will be most interesting and valuable to your target reader?

Start writing with a good begonia-related line that will grab readers’ attention, set the right tone and get to the point quickly (be sure you know what the main point of the piece is). If your lead and what follows feels right, keep writing, all the way to the end.

However, if you …

Is Medicine A Vocation? Or A Humdrum Chore?

Voco, vocare, vocatus–the Latin root of the word “vocation” means to summon, to call, to name, to call upon, to invite, to challenge. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines the word thus: 1) a regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified; 2) an inclination, as if in response to summons, to undertake a certain kind of work, especially a religious career. The phrase, “as if in response to a summons,” introduces a mystical quality. If the word “profession” is brought into the discussion, there is a degree of religious-secular conceptual crossover. One definition of that word, from the same dictionary, is: an occupation requiring considerable training and specialized study. In most religious orders and congregations the taking of final vows is referred to as “making one’s profession.” Profession is a part of vocation, but vocation suggests a higher calling, something requiring time, training and commitment, with an ineffable quality that goes