Infectious-Disease Specialists Are Medicine's Master afeditamyb.tk
We're really excited to have you. Well, there is very little in medicine that's quite as exciting. You never know what you're going to see any day or any year, and if you think about the headlines just from this year, we're dealing with outbreaks in diseases that we never thought about. We're dealing with Ebola, we're dealing with measles outbreaks, enterovirus D, and that's just on top of taking care of some of the sickest people.
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If we do our job right, we're really helping them get better because the cool thing about infectious diseases is that they can kill you quickly, but many of them are curable. Tell me more about what opportunities you've had professionally as an infectious disease doctor? Let me go back to the beginning of my career. When I graduated medical school, it was and nobody had ever heard of a disease that was affecting young gay men.
That shaped an early part of my career, and I think that gave me this drive to be involved in working with these new and emerging infections. AIDS really shaped my career and my life because it was something that many other people didn't want to touch, and yet every day we were learning something new.
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What we were learning was both scientifically incredibly complicated and fascinating, but we could take it to the bedside and help our patients who at the time had very little hope. That sounds very exciting. It sounds like you were able to just take the lead and say, "I want to make a difference," and you went for it.
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Was there someone that helped you along the way, and was there someone that you looked up to at the time that helped you make that decision to just jump into something maybe others hadn't done in the past? Well, there were probably a lot of people who inspired me. I had two terrific Infectious Diseases Professors in medical school, although ironically back then they said, "Well, there's not much new in infectious disease, and there's not much money in the field.
The other big career changer for me was a friend of mine found out about a program at the Center for Disease Control. He went down and served as an academic intelligence service officer, which is a job in which usually young ID-trained physicians who are people who are interested in infectious diseases, go down and they're involved as the disease detectives for the CDC. So after I finished residency I went and did that.
But there's another little story that connects the two there. When I was a third-year resident I took care of a young man who was about 16 who came in with bloody diarrhea and went on to get severe renal failure and he had low platelets. He turned out to have hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a disease that back then people knew very little about. Nobody drew any connection between that blood diarrhea and the hemolytic-uremic syndrome. In fact, they thought he probably had Crohn's disease incidentally.
When I got to CDC I had a chance to work on E coli , and so there was another aspect in which something that just two years ago we knew almost nothing about we were able to work on, and now understand what's way more important, foodborne diseases. I think my friends and colleagues in infectious disease could all tell stories like this about ways that new discoveries really change the face of what we do in medicine.
It's hard to find many other areas in medicine where you get to do that on such a regular basis. And that was something that I was actually going to ask you about. I think that a lot of us go into medicine with this feeling that we want to go in and make a difference and change things, and we want that empowerment to really help.
I was going to ask you how you feel that infectious disease helps you with that mission and helps you continue that mission throughout your career? In medicine, we try and make a difference in all sorts of ways.
We try and make a difference for the patient in front of us, one-on-one. We try and make a difference by adding new knowledge that's really going to change things for a group of patients. We try and do things that might largely affect the world at large and people who have so much less than we do here in the United States. In infectious disease you got to do all three because so many of the infections that we think about and that we worry about are global killers as well as big problems at home.
So people who choose infectious disease can work in the clinical arena in the United States, they can do research on new and exciting scientific problems, they can work in global health. You can combine all of them, and all these things are a chance to really make a difference. So it seems that there are different paths and different opportunities for you to take once you graduate and you're done with your fellowship and you're done with all this education. In addition to the usual ward work and ward rounds, there are regular referrals meetings, x ray sessions, grand rounds, case review meetings, and research meetings.
As well as the ward patient follow-up clinics, there are a variety of subspecialty clinics—leprosy, tropical parasitology, general tropical diseases, travel medicine, and leishmaniasis. A walk-in clinic is available without general practitioner referral for patients recently returned from tropical areas.
The commonest problems include diarrhoea, fever, or rashes, and patients are seen and managed by the senior house officer and specialist registrar. Dedicated time off is available for research and reading, audit, and evidence based medicine reviews. Under the current system, on calls are one in eight non-resident and provide cover for infectious diseases, tropical medicine, and HIV, but other systems are operated in other hospitals. Royal College of Physicians— http: Royal College of Pathologists— http: British Infection Society— http: Training in Infection— http: Skip to main content.
Global problem But a common theme that all three doctors mention is the enormous global impact of infection—for many countries infectious diseases still impose the greatest burden of mortality and morbidity even though cure or prevention is often possible. Training issues Historically, infection specialists have tended to focus on community acquired infections, and microbiologists more on the hospital acquired ones.