Thursday, July 30, 2009

"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" --- Ralph W. Emerson via Brooke Baxter.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

UNECOM: An Institution of Higher Earning

(Average indebtedness for 2007 UNECOM graduates who incurred medical school debt)

It's official: The University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine has set its students up to be #1 in debt for any medical school in the country.

More than twice as much debt as our friends at Hopkins and nearly three times that of those at Stanford, we, the indebted, must really be getting a bang-up education. We must all be gunners, all selling ourselves to the research giants or schmoozing our way into highly paid specialties.

Oh, here's the COM's mission statement:

The University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine transforms students into health care leaders who advance patient-centered, high quality osteopathic primary care and community health for the people of New England and the nation.

Well, that doesn't seem right. How are these future primary carers going to pay off this mountain of promissory notes with their meager community health salaries? Maybe the mission statement is all just PR bullshit and students are really just here to make money. Maybe they can pay back the debt...
  • 70% of its graduates practice in primary care disciplines (Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics & Gynecology).
  • State of Maine: 9% of practicing physicians are UNECOM graduates, comprising 15% of Maine’s primary care physician workforce.
  • 24% of UNECOM graduates practicing in Maine serve in rural areas.
  • New England: 17% of UNECOM graduates are practicing in medically underserved areas."
Guess not...

---// Feel Free to skip the Numbers and jump to the end. //---

At the 8.65% APR most of us are getting on our loans, the average student is paying $17,332 per year in INTEREST ALONE. Since most students won't be able pull that scratch together during their residencies while their making less than a first year high school teacher, we might as well bring that average debt number up to 250K.

Now where do these numbers come from? Heating oil is the cheapest it's been in years; the building is relatively new and doesn't need repairs; the university owns the land it's sitting on, and it's Biddeford - is the cost of living really that high? What betterment in our education - what necessity - prompted this stark increase in an already steep price tag? It must have been serious, because after reporting 2009-2010 tuition and fees to the federal government (to set the price for federal student loans) UNECOM raised tuition again. Now, students must take out GRAD-Plus and private loans to simply pay the baseline tuition.

---// Ok, no more numbers: Start reading again. //---

Is the school hedging its bets against a bad economy? Is the tuition hike meant to pay for the soon-to-be money tree of pharmaceutical research that is the Pickus building? Is the larger UNE family just squeezing the COM's teet a little harder than usual? That sounds right, but no one knows. As a private institution, UNE reserves the right to keep its books secret from its students. With a policy of financial opacity we can only guess.

My guess is the administration wants it both ways.

They wa
nt to bring in the cash to bolster the institution all the while believing they are setting up their students to practice in underserved areas. They've probably talked themselves into believing that National Health Scholarships are freely available and that military service is an easy 4-year option with no strings attached. With all this magical thinking and willful ignorance, though, they neglect the greater truth: Students should not have to sell their souls or become indentured servants to get an education that's meant to serve the poor.

I fear this whole thing is like that Cat Stevens song where a father is shocked to see his son repeating all his own mistakes after giving him a lifetime of bad examples. The administrators at UNECOM probably think their moral and financial compromises are serving to aid the medical students and their future patients. The day will come, though, when they realize a profit centered medical education has created profit centered physicians and all those good intentions will be for naught.

With irony, sarcasm, and no hint of professionalism whatsoever, I dedicate this song to UNECOM. Lucky us...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Movement for the Sake of Movement

I've been tinkering off and on this whole summer trying to find a glint of something writable. From old plot lines to recent dreams, I've sketched out the beginnings of a few too many rabbit trails to flesh out in the short time between now and August first. Allthesame (one word) with nothing to show for my efforts except missing out on a few cold and rainy summer days, I'm calling it quits on writing anything of significance this summer.

It's less like giving up than giving in. I just want to play these few days I have left of the Anti-School and enjoy the company of those I've missed this last year in my whirlwind of medical education. I'm still going to write - I'll probably blog more often - but as for the great unamerican novel I've been working on, I'm gonna leave that to someone with more time and fewer pressing ambitions.

The picture to the right is one I stole from my friend, Matt's website (shhh don't tell him). I think more than anything else, shots like this encourage me to stick with my own personal brand of playful uncommitted writing and leave the rest to the pros.

Lemmi splain:

For years I've considered myself a photographer, an artist let's say, with an eye and a talent for great candid shots. I've never bought a little digital point-and-shooter because I've felt like that would undermine my ability and be somehow beneath me. I took (stole) this photo from one of Matt's many albums - this one being 400 shots deep. I could never take (capture) this shot the way Matt has here (and in every one of his other 399 photos in the album). I'm just not that good. Matt has a talent and a commitment to photography and puts his lens to good use at every opportunity. I on the other hand never take pictures because my old Cannon SLR is awkward, bulky and costs a fortune to develop. What I should do - what I'm going to do - is put the ol' girl out to pasture and invest in a pocket sized, teeny bopper, fast action, digital Swiss Army Knife. Maybe then I won't be so stressed about the art and I'll just take pictures.

For me, writing has always been good for a short burst of self-importance and escapism. It helps me focus my thoughts, create something tangible and disseminate ideas screaming to get out of my brain. It's play, pure and simple. At Gordon, a psych professor told me the definition of play is "movement for the sake of movement."

I like that.

This summer, writing became movement for the sake of something far more tangible than just movement and thus more stifling and confining - more like work than play. I found that in my attempts to take myself seriously I lost the playful edginess that makes my writing worth reading.

--//Strike that//--

I found that in my attempts to take myself seriously I lost the playful edginess that makes my writing worth writing. And therein lies the tragedy.

I started this post with just the photo of the bike on the wire, thinking it would be the makings of a great story. I even titled the page "The Makings of a Story." In the end we didn't go there. We didn't have to. It's this freedom that makes writing worth writing for me - this writing for writing's sake.

While I have enjoyed reading some of my newer, serious projects more than old blogger entries, I enjoyed writing those point-and-shoot snapshots of life much much more. I do hope one day to pen the great unamerican novel. I hope to dazzle the world with hitherto unimagined literary grace, but

I can wait.

Today, today is more important.

Monday, July 6, 2009

US and Russia Agree to dismantel 1/3 of Their Nuclear Weapons

It's a step in the right direction. Let's hope it catches on.


Is an Ugly Baby Harder to Love?

Ze's back
. It's not as good as The Show but not as sellouttie as you'd think from corporate media.

Congrats on the new job, Ze.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Love Song for Zeppelins

July 2, 2009

One hundred and nine years ago today, the first zeppelin took flight over Lake Constance just outside of Friedrichshafen, Germany.*

In honor of this lighter than air moment, I think a love song is in order.


*(Thanks Dr. Wiki!)