Posted on 3 April 2014 by

Almost there…!

Status Update

Tomorrow I have my Principles of Biotechnology final, and then on Monday I'll be starting my clinical placements. I'll be at the Children's Hospital for the first two weeks, followed by two weeks at a Shopper's Drug Mart. I will not be writing any posts about those clinical placements in the interest of maintaining patient confidentiality.

I will start writing up a few articles and a couple more study guides within the next month. I'm hoping to write up a very concise tutorial on medical statistics, if only for the sake of reinforcing my own knowledge and despite being totally unqualified to do so.

See you on the other side!

Posted on 24 March 2014 by

Aside: Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, responds to a petition calling for “scientific discourse about holistic approaches to healing”

This definitely made my day. The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology has petitioned Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, calling on him to create "new policies that allow for true scientific discourse about holistic approaches to healing." If you're wondering, energy psychology is a branch of energy medicine, which has very little to do with medicine at all. The principles of energy medicine are scientifically implausible.

You can read more about energy medicine on Wikipedia's energy medicine page. TL;DR: There is no evidence for energy psychology.

A petition from the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology to Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia

A petition from the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology to Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia

Now for the part that made my day: Jimmy Wales' response.

Jimmy Wales responds to the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology's petition

Jimmy Wales responds to the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology's petition

Well, that was certainly refreshing.

Posted on 21 March 2014 by

Sorry for the downtime! Pers J RP has switched to Digital Ocean

I'm addicted to speed. No, not amphetamines. That would be inappropriate. I switched over to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) on Digital Ocean. I've got two cores, 2 GB RAM, and an SSD at my disposal. This is going to be fun.

Around the end of November 2013, I switched from Bluehost's shared hosting to DreamHost's DreamPress service. DreamPress is basically DreamHost's managed WordPress solution, with each WordPress site running on a VPS. It's supposed to have enhanced performance, but I didn't notice much of a speed increase. Page load times were around 2-3 seconds while running on DreamPress, which isn't bad, but it wasn't noticeably faster than Bluehost's shared hosting.

DreamPress had Varnish and mod_pagespeed (sort of). I'm sure that DreamPress would have outperformed shared hosting if this website actually had visitors, but that's not the reason that I switched. I'm not totally delusional -- I didn't think that I needed to upgrade to deal with all the traffic this website isn't getting. Truthfully, I just wanted to have WordPress's administrative interface load faster. It's painful to write when it takes upwards of 5 seconds to save a draft, especially if you're just as paranoid as me and you hit the "Save Draft" button every sentence.

Unfortunately, I had some trouble working with DreamHost's support team. They're very friendly, but it could take almost a week for them to respond to a support ticket, and there's no phone number to call if things go very wrong. You can request a callback, but they charge for those.

Two weeks ago, I was trying to get mod_pagespeed working and I got stuck in one of those "I tried to do X, but it didn't work" "Did you try X?" "Yes, I tried X" "Can you try X again? I tried X and your website seems to be working fine" loops. That wasn't the most fun I've ever had.

I remembered that Digital Ocean offered inexpensive (but unmanaged) VPS servers. I used to play with that kind of stuff back when I was 11 or 12, so I figured that I might as well give it a go. I installed Apache, PHP, and MySQL, stuck Varnish in front of Apache, and uploaded all of my old data. After test driving the website for a few days, I closed my DreamPress account and made the switch.

That's the end of the story. You know, except for the whole downtime thing. It turns out that it's been about a decade since I was 12, so I was a bit rusty... and I broke the VPS. Oh no! That's the downside to unmanaged hosting -- when you mess something up, good luck figuring it out. You're on your own. Of course, I'd rather spend a few hours tinkering with the VPS than a few days waiting for support to get back to me, so I'm fine with the tradeoff.

On average, Pingdom says that Pers J RP now takes less than 2 seconds to load. A more substantial improvement is that the live search feature pulls up results in less than 2 seconds, whereas on DreamPress you'd be better off just hitting the enter button and loading up the results page.

Okay, the story actually ends here. I'm pretty happy with the results. If you're interested in getting a VPS for some reason, Digital Ocean has some very inexpensive-but-generous plans. If you sign up with Digital Ocean after clicking this link, they'll reduce my bill a bit (no pressure).

Posted on 13 March 2014 by

Abstract published: Impact of perinatal antibiotic exposure on the infant gut microbiota at one year of age

Download: Impact of perinatal antibiotic exposure on the infant gut microbiota at one year of age (BioMed Central License)

For the past two summers I've been doing a bit of research with the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study, focusing primarily on the use of antibiotics during labour and delivery. I was supervised by Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj and Dr. Meghan Azad. The grunt work basically involved me, a couple hundred charts, and a lot of hours. If you're interested, I wrote a short summary about the work I did in the summer of 2012.

In the summer of 2013, we started to link that antibiotic data to some microbiome data. I was given an opportunity to present a poster on this subject at the 2013 AllerGen Poster Competition and Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI) Annual Scientific Meeting in Toronto. The abstract has now been published in Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, and can be viewed for free on BioMed Central.

I would love to spend more time writing about my research, but I've got a paper due in a week and finals at the end of this month. I'm planning on doing more research this summer, so I'll have plenty of time to discuss it then. For now, go read that abstract!

Persaud R, Azad MB, Konya T, et al. Impact of perinatal antibiotic exposure on the infant gut microbiota at one year of age. Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology 2014; 10(Suppl 1): A31.

Posted on 4 March 2014 by

Aside: March is Pharmacist Awareness Month #PAM2014

Today is the fourth day of Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM). It used to be Pharmacist Awareness Week, but pharmacy practice in Canada is evolving and there's a lot to talk about. For instance, Manitoban pharmacists recently had their scope of practice expanded, and they can now:

  • Provide emergency prescription refills
  • Renew or extend prescriptions for patients with a continuing need when the following conditions are met:
    • The patient has a chronic condition, or continuing need for the medication
    • The prescribing practitioner has died or retired in the past 6 months, or has failed to reply to inquiries regarding refill authorizations
    • The patient's drug therapy hasn't changed recently
    • The patient has experienced no adverse events that would require stopping the prescription
    • The prescription was previously filled at the same pharmacy
  • Change the drug dosage, strength, or interval
  • Prescribe over-the-counter medications and medical devices
  • Prescribe therapies for minor ailments or conditions after receiving training and certification from the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba
  • Initiate a prescription drug therapy in certain settings
  • Order and interpret lab tests, including self-administered tests
  • Administer drugs such as vaccinations by injection after receiving training and certification from the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba

Pharmacy's scope of practice differs from province to province, but the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) has published this handy summary of pharmacy's new roles by province. If you have any questions, just ask your friendly neighborhood pharmacist. They'd be happy to help. You can also check out #PAM2014 on Twitter.

Posted on 3 March 2014 by

Aside: New addition to Pers J RP: Clinical Corner

I have one more month left in my third year of pharmacy, and it's just flying by. I successfully passed my TOSCE recently, and our OSCE is coming up in just two weeks. I like to pretend that I'm studying for the OWLs or NEWTs at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Things are always better with a little dash of magic.

Anyways, enough about my life. I've added the Clinical Corner to Pers J RP. Previously, quizzes could be found under resources, but now they can be found in the Clinical Corner. I didn't feel comfortable posting study guides and quizzes out in the open, and I've password protected them. Sure, I take the time to review through them thoroughly, but I really wouldn't want people to treat them like a clinical reference. If you'd like access to to the Clinical Corner, you'll have to fill out the disclaimer agreement. You can also opt-in to email updates regarding articles posted in the Clinical Corner, although it's unlikely that I would ever email you. I'll review your submission and email you the password.

That's about it. I know it's sort of unproductive (in terms of website traffic) to password protect a major section of my barely-significant blog, but safety comes before traffic. Otherwise, people get hit by cars. Get it? Nevermind, that was a terrible joke anyways. Thanks for reading.

Posted on 2 February 2014 by

It's that time of year again… summer studentship applications are due!

Status Update

I'm interested in doing research again this summer, and the studentship application deadlines fall within the next two weeks. I'd like to continue my research into the impact of antibiotic exposures on the infant's gut microbiome and the development of allergy. I also added in mode of delivery. Kids born vaginally are exposed to bacteria from the vaginal tract, while kids born via caesarean section have a more sterile introduction to the world... but that isn't necessarily a good thing. Anyways, I'll write about it more some other time. I've got a clinical exam tomorrow! Wish me luck.

Posted on 19 January 2014 by

Group work, clinical, and the TOSCE

Status Update

I thought that the first part of the 3rd year pharmacy was difficult, but the second part really cranks the dial to 11. Basically, 4 months' worth of material is crammed into 3 months' time. The TOSCE is also looming large on the horizon, with the OSCE not too far behind. If this was a plane ride, the captain would be activating the seatbelt signs because of the turbulence ahead! It'll be an interesting ride to say the least, haha.

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