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Looking to the stars for career guidance?

New research has examined what your star sign says about your choice of medical career Did your specialty choose you or did you choose your specialty? A recent paper in the Postgraduate Medical Journal (PMJ) addressed this question, but with an astrological twist. Thought to have been established 2,400 years ago in Babylon, horoscopes in…

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Decorating Christmas through the ages

Seasonal traditions have provided solace in difficult times 2020 has been a year of massive societal change. Our lives have been turned upside down due to Covid-19. On the plus side, one of the welcome effects has been to make us focus more on traditions. There is no better time than Christmas for tradition. As…

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High public anxiety over Covid-19 no excuse to abuse doctors

Recently released figures provide further evidence that the unified front the country presented in the early days of the Covid-19 crisis is over I was really taken aback by the findings in a recent Medical Practitioner Society (MPS) survey that over a third of doctors said they have suffered verbal or physical abuse from patients,…

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Getting to the heart of jargon in medicine

Patients who listen to medical slang will learn a lot about their doctors’ attitudes towards them The advent of coronavirus has led to a noticeable rise in the use of jargon. Lockdowns, reproduction number and herd immunity are just some examples of terms that have shot to prominence in 2020. The same phenomenon occurred during…

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The State Epidemiologist who inspires tattoos

Is Sweden’s approach to Covid-19 a cautionary tale, or a realistic response in the absence of a vaccine? I doubt that even the most ardent fan of our Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Tony Holohan, has his image tattooed on their arm. But given the chasm between his approach to Covid-19 and that of Swedish…

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The improbable side of medical research

The connection between eyebrows and narcissism was just one example of the delightfully eccentric research highlighted at this year’s Ig Nobel awards One of my favourite events of the year is the annual Ig Nobel awards. Hosted by the journal Annals of Improbable Research, the Igs are an annual exercise in irreverence that celebrate scientific…

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What we can learn from pandemics past

Some reactions to the Black Death were not dissimilar to how people are acting during Covid-19 As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, it is interesting to observe how people react differently to the threat. On the one hand, there are the diligent mask-wearers and social isolationists, who even after the initial lockdown phase have continued a…

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On the moral responsibility of medicine

The profession has a collective duty to ensure that the next generation of doctors is educated and that medical research occurs How far does our responsibility as doctors to protect and promote health go? Responsibility is complex: In medicine, obligations such as acting in patients’ best interests (beneficence) or avoiding harm (non-maleficence) are more stringent…

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Masking our fears

Society’s response to mask-wearing tells us a lot about ourselves One of the (many) interesting things about Covid-19 has been the emergence of mask-wearing as a signal of political allegiance — with the left choosing to wear masks, and the right refusing to. In the US, this has been taken to ridiculous levels by the…

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Dreamtime in Dromineer

Life during lockdown was strange and difficult, but there were good times too Did it really happen? Yes, there really was a padlock on the Dromineer playground. And yes, the gardaí were at the crossroads, stopping cars and sending people home. The ‘local police’ were out too, telling visitors they weren’t welcome. It was a…

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