M.D.s practice in spaceHas your physician ever spent four weeks in space learning about aerospace medicine, or in the Arctic Circle providing vaccines to Alaska Native children? As bizarre as this may sound, these have become viable options for future MDs to learn how to practice medicine, STAT reports. “Studying how a heart beats is important, but it’s also cool to understand how to treat people out in the world,” said Rich Ingebretsen, M.D., University of Utah School of Medicine professor who founded its wilderness medicine program, in the report. That program takes students on remote backpacking trips, teaching them how to treat patients in wilderness areas. It’s part of eight unique programs STAT looks at that take medical students outside the classroom and out into the world.

Headache or Concussion? The Answer is in Your Spit

Spit diagnoses a concussionAn unlikely new tool is making it easier to figure out if you’ve had a concussion: your saliva, NPR reports. In contrast to commonly used lab tests, which are 70 percent accurate in identifying whether someone has had a concussion and how long their symptoms might last, this test — which measures genetic material in one’s saliva — is nearly 90 percent correct in its results. It also can identify if you’re going to have a prolonged concussion, which other tools haven’t yet been able to predict. The new test identifies levels of genetic particles called microRNAs, materials the brain releases when it’s trying to heal itself (an automatic reaction to a concussion). Researchers have analyzed these microRNAs to find out how long symptoms would last and who would be affected by what symptoms. This tool could be instrumental in identifying concussions in those who don’t necessarily show symptoms, NPR states.

Jimmy Kimmel Gets Serious

Jimmy KimmelThe late-night host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” is perhaps best known for his fake rivalry with actor-producer Matt Damon, but is making new headlines for a moment of vulnerability in his opening monologue this week, The New York Times reports. Kimmel let his wall down when talking about his son, who was recently born with a heart defect. He revealed that hours after his son was born, a nurse noticed that his son wasn’t receiving enough oxygen and needed to undergo open-heart surgery. Kimmel's son is doing well, and Kimmel took the time to thank all the staff who provided care for his family and newborn during their hospital stays during his monologue. He also made a plea to Washington to preserve coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, saying, “This isn’t football. There are no teams. We are the team. It’s the United States. Don’t let their partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants.”

Yes, Think Twice About Delivering Bad News to Patients

Breaking bad newsAn obstetrician writes on KevinMD about the difficulties physicians face in delivering bad news to patients. While Andrea Eisenberg, M.D., thoroughly dissects the kinds of situations in which the act of giving patients a serious diagnosis can go badly, the advice on how to do it right is not covered very closely. Nevertheless, her essay can serve as a reminder that physicians might want to think twice before speaking when telling patients they’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness or condition. Her first example was chilling. It concerned a friend who never got biopsy results before a follow-up appointment, and was greeted at that appointment with, “So you know you have cancer, right?”