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Vital Signs

News Briefs

Paging Doctor Do-Si-Do
By day, Dr. Maia Rutman (pictured below) is the medical director of emergency services for the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth. By night, she's a fiddler in the contra dance band Heathen Creek. She and fellow musicians Mark Koyama (mandolin) and Pete Johannsen (guitar) have been "filling the night with music and generally knocking the socks off all and sundry" for seven years, according to the band's website.

Heathen Creek debuted around the time Rutman began her residency in Boston and has played throughout the northeast ever since. In April 2008, the band was invited to perform its fusion of Irish, French- Canadian, and old-time tunes—overlaid on modern rhythms—at the New England Folk Festival in Mansfield, Mass.

Rutman doesn't keep her medical and her musical lives totally separate: Heathen Creek's 2004 CD, 24 Hours, includes a waltz called "Sea Fog," which she says she wrote after an especially exhausting overnight shift in the hospital.


Elective was Sew Enjoyable
Mix seven medical students interested in quilting (and in neonatalmedicine) with a handful of experienced quilters, then bake for several weeks. That's the recipe behind an unusual elective that two then-second-year students, Amity Burr and Sarah Dotters-Katz, organized last spring. Burr and Dotters-Katz are members of the Sunshine Quilters Guild in Grantham, N.H., which donated most of the supplies for the elective.

Experienced members of the guild "came to all of our classes," says Dotters-Katz, which "was a nice opportunity to learn tricks and skills fromtruly great quilters." The students turned out six pintsized quilts (one is pictured above) and gave them to babies in DHMC's intensive care nursery. The elective also included a tour of the unit and guest talks by parents and grandparents of babies in the nursery.

"During medical school, we study all the time," says Dotters- Katz. "It is nice to have other skills to escape to."


I'll take Eye Exam for $500
"What's 'escin'?" asks a pediatric resident of a panel of staff pediatricians. This isn't a trainee who's forgotten a bit of medical knowledge, but a round of "Bluff the Pediatrician" in DHMC's annual Pediatrics Quiz Bowl.

During this portion of the fierce but good-natured competition, the staff team will try to stump the residents by giving one real response and two fake but convincing ones. "A critical protein missing," fires back one of the pediatricians. "A CIS [Clinical Information Systems] shortcut," says another. "Ahemolytic substance derived froma horse chestnut," comes a third definition. Now the residents have to guess which one is correct.

The Quiz Bowl also includes several rounds of "Rapid Response," in which each team has two minutes to answer 10 questions. The categories are Saturday morning cartoons and the eye—or "You expect me to do a fundoscopic exam on a screaming two-year-old?" Next is a round of "Name that Ye Olde Infectious Disease."

So what is escin? After several moments of whispering, one of the residents guesses: "Number three?"

"Correct!" replies the staff team.

Now it's the residents' turn to try to fool the staff with fake answers. "What's Holtzknecht?" comes their question.


White-Glove Treatment
In 1937, when Justine Caldwell enrolled in the first class at the Mary Hitchcock School of Medical Technology, students didn't wear protective gloves and formulated a lot of their own reagents. The school, now called the MHMH Medical Technology Program, is thriving 71 years later—but a lot has changed besides its name.

Today's students take an intense sixmonth course in the pathology lab. They operate blood gas analyzers to assess oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in preemies. They learn about platelet counts. They do blood tests for patients on anticoagulant therapy and patients with hemophilia.

The program has been affiliated with the University of New Hampshire since 1954. Students complete three and a half years of coursework there, then do their clinical training at DHMC, emerging with a B.S. in medical laboratory science.

Caldwell—a spry 90-year-old—attended this year's graduation and after the ceremony got a tour of the facility (pictured above). Gloves were optional on the tour but are now required attire for anyone who works in the clinical labs.


Reel-Time: A webcam atop DMS's Dana Library offers a bird'seye view of the soon-to-be Life Sciences Center. To see the construction site, plus a time-lapse video of the demolition of Strasenburgh Hall, visit the Life Sciences Center Construction Camera.

Cut-And-Dried: The American Pain Society chose just six multidisciplinary pain centers as centers of excellence—including Dartmouth-Hitchcock's. It was the society's second annual awards program, and DHMC made the cut both years.

TMI About DNA: An op-ed essay in the Washington Post by DMS's Dr. Gilbert Welch and a coauthor said genetic screening provides too much information, more than is now clinically useful. "We need more research, not pricey genomic scans," they wrote.

Apples For The Teachers: Two of the 12 recipients of 2008 teaching awards at Harvard Medical School were DMS alumni—Drs. Hope Ricciotti '90 and Steven Schlozman '94—and one of the awards is named for Dr. Cynthia Kettyle, a DMS '69.

Cogito Ergonomics Sum: Aiming to boost its hand-hygiene rate to 100%, DHMC has been putting alcohol gel and glove dispensers in more easy-to-reach locations and is now closing in on 90%. National studies have found rates as low as 50%.

Take Note: "It's a Grand Night for Singing"—from Rodgers and Hammerstein's State Fair—would be a good theme song for Dr. Da-Shih Hu. The DMS psychiatrist appears regularly in local musical productions and this summer performed in State Fair.

Pedal Pushers: Nearly 4,200 bike riders and walkers from all across the United States took part in the 2008 Prouty, which benefits Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center—this year raising more than $2 million for cancer research and care.

The Write Stuff: A feature by Paula Hartman Cohen in our Spring 2007 issue, "The Other Side of the Stethoscope," won a 2008 Will Solimene Award from the New England chapter of the American Medical Writers Association.

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