So you would like to know who I am…

Well, first things first. I am sometimes a medical student and sometimes a graduate student in the University of Wisconsin’s MD/PhD program, which rocks. That MPH I refer to in the blog header comes from UC Berkeley’s Epidemiology/Biostatistics master’s program, whence I graduated in 2007, and which also rocks. My PhD thesis in Epidemiology is about how women’s sleep health changes as they transition through menopause, with an emphasis on sleep apnea. My adviser is a saint. If all goes according to plan I will be finishing my PhD in the spring of 2015. [I did it!] Don’t be misled by may age-inappropriate career path, though; I’m still a student, but I am older than the DeLorean.

Why a blog? Because it isn’t always appropriate to argue with people at work, and I care deeply about many controversial issues around reproductive health, epidemiology, medical education, weight science, breastfeeding, vaccination, kyriarchy, politics, history, art, grammar, and the abuse of charts–to name a few. Keeping quiet about these things is bad for my soul, so this is a place for me to talk about them, sometimes using my outside voice.

Oh yeah, and the title of this blog. It’s a reference to Oliver Wendell Holmes oft-simplified quotation from his address to the Massachusetts Medical Society in 1860, truncated to: “I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be better for mankind–and all the worse for the fishes.” I want to be clear that I really, really, don’t believe that to be true of present-day medicine (though it probably was true in 1860), but I like the quotation for a few reasons. For one, I don’t like what I see when the medical system that I’m a part of avoids self-criticism. For another, I think it’s a good reminder that every well-intentioned intervention has externalities (oops, sorry ocean creatures). But I mostly chose it because it includes the word “fishes.”

Header photo credit: Mr. van Meelen via photopin cc