Friday, March 23, 2012

Whining and Dining and Other Adventures in Postgrad Land

Ahhh, postgrad life.  I'm lovin' it.

On Tuesday, the Otago University Postgraduate Society organized a Quiz Night.  For $3 per person, we got a basket of potato wedges, a basket of French fries, and an assortment of other crunchy, fried yumminess, plus a chance to win some prizes.  Our team name was "No worries. It's Curable!"

By the end of the evening, we came to the conclusion that writing a thesis is far easier than remembering what ship Darwin sailed the high seas on, which elements make up the most mass in the Milky Way, how many keys are on a piano and other random trivia.

On top of answering questions as they were asked, we were given a few sheets of paper with additional puzzles to solve throughout the event.  One in particular really stumped us: "5 letter word from hijklmno."

Give up?

Water.  ("h" 2 "o")

What. The. Truck.(?!)

On Wednesday, the Vice Chancellor held a garden party for new postgrads here at Abbey Common.  Free drinks? I'm there!   The weather cooperated and it was fun to dress up nice and mingle here and there.

On the academic side of things, I went to a seminar and a workshop this week.  I must say, I really do enjoy the freedom to attend things that sound interesting to me.

Yesterday, I heard Dr. Chad Boult, from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, speak about managing care for older patients with multiple chronic diseases.  Pretty astounding to think about the struggles of the individuals themselves and the strain that people with 4+ chronic diseases put on Medicare and caregivers, eh?  He spoke about randomized controlled trials used in the development of a program called Guided Care.

I was interested in hearing a medical professional speak about how we're all supposed to work together to provide better care.  When I worked at the Office for Aging, it seemed like we informed practitioners about our programs, but they weren't always keen about referring patients to the programs.  The programs were evidence-based and often FREE to the patients!  What's a local organization to do?  It sounded like the answer from our discussion is to get insurance companies to reward doctors for referring patients to such programs.  So, if CDPHP is providing $ for a local organization to carry out a diabetes self-management program, CDPHP should also give doctors $50 for each of their patients that enroll in the program.

It seems odd to have to pay a doctor to spend a few minutes telling Mrs. Jones about a great, free, local program when that $50 could go towards offsetting the program costs for more participants.  No?

Matthew Parsons from the University of Auckland also came to speak.  He had some very interesting things to say about healthcare in New Zealand and the exciting things that are ahead.  Briefly, he spoke about patients using tools at home (to check blood pressure or blood sugar) and having the results delivered electronically to their primary care doctor's office where someone screens the information for alerts when patients report results that are out of the norm (elevated blood pressure, for example).  This could trigger someone at the office to call the patient.  This proactive approach would partially replace the reactive approach many of us are used to.  Cool, huh?

Today, I went to a workshop on using pedometers in interventions.  I wanted to compare their recommendations to what we did for Mission Meltaway.  Guess what folks? We were right on the ball.  Yes, meeting people where they are now and helping them decide their own goals does work!


That sums up this week.  This weekend I have a date with some databases and I'm running in the Stadium to Surf 10k - my first New Zealand race.  The weather is looking decent, so we'll see how I do!

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