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Top Stories of 2021

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Top AAMCNews stories of 2021

December 28, 2021

The COVID-19 vaccines. Coping with long COVID-19. Training every doctor to treat older patients. The future of CRISPR. Here is our list of the most compelling AAMCNews stories of 2021.

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2021 began with the advent of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines and the promise of an end to the pandemic that had dominated global health news for more than a year. But slow uptake and resistance to the vaccines in some parts of the United States also led to surges and unrelenting stress on the nation’s academic health systems. AAMCNews covered all of these stories, as well as other important developments in medical education, biomedical research, and patient care. Below, we have compiled a list of our best stories of 2021 — including some of our most-read articles, as well as others you might have missed.

COVID-19 vaccines

Three differently colored virus particles depicted as racing each other

The vaccines and the variants: Four keys to ending the pandemic

Vaccines work well against the current variants, but to end the pandemic, we need to stay ahead of the evolving virus.

 

Victoria Heinrich, an MD-PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, poses after getting her COVID-19 vaccine while 20 weeks pregnant.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe during pregnancy? Experts weigh in

Pregnant people were not included in initial clinical trials, but scientists point to encouraging evidence of the vaccines’ safety, especially when weighed against the high risk associated with COVID-19 in pregnancy.

 

The impact of COVID-19 on patients and providers

Brittany Bankhead-Kendall, MD, now a trauma surgeon at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, saw a flood of deaths during the pandemic and has suffered symptoms of PTSD.

For providers with PTSD, the trauma of COVID-19 isn’t over

They watched patients and colleagues sicken and die for months. Now, many front-line providers are struggling with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Sunita Sharma, MD, a pulmonologist at UC Health in Aurora, Colorado, with a patient.

Doctors with long COVID-19 share their struggles to heal

Crushing exhaustion. Difficulty breathing. Brain fog. No sense of taste or smell. Doctors describe the disturbing effects of long COVID-19 on their lives — and how they're managing to move forward.

 

Colorado 17-year-old Lilly Downs lies in a hospital bed.

‘Scary and confusing’: When kids suffer from long COVID-19

Even months after COVID-19 infection, children can suffer an array of symptoms from difficulty concentrating to trouble breathing. Some are finding hope at new long COVID-19 clinics created just for kids.

 

Ryan Mahoney, a third-year medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark with his father, James Mahoney, MD, and his sister, Stephanie.

Medical students cope with personal loss from COVID-19

For some young doctors-in-training, the pandemic has cut deep into their lives. Academic medical institutions have been working hard to support them.

 

People stock the shelves of a campus food pantry at the University of Toledo in Ohio

Feeding future doctors: Universities work to alleviate food insecurity among medical students

While data on food insecurity among medical students is sparse, researchers believe the impact is profound. The pandemic isn't helping.

 

Staffers at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, transport a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck that the center had to use for the bodies of COVID-19 victims during a surge in the spring of 2020.

How are COVID-19 deaths counted? It’s complicated

As the U.S. death toll nears a half-million, confusion continues over whether people die “of” COVID-19 or “with” COVID-19. Here’s what’s behind the numbers.

 

Research and scientific advancements

A medicine doctor is analyzing coronavirus covid-19 via technology virtual reality interactive

8 medical advances you may have missed during COVID-19

A new way to treat torn ACLs. Bedside MRIs. Possibly even a cure for sickle cell disease. These and other breakthroughs all happened while the pandemic absorbed the world’s attention. Here’s what may have flown under your radar.

 

CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing complex and cells, illustration. The CRISPR-Cas9 protein (blue and pink) is used in genome engineering to cut DNA and uses a guide RNA sequence (orange) to cut DNA (purple) at a complementary cleavage site.

The future of CRISPR is now

CRISPR is revolutionizing experimental therapies for genetic disorders ranging from sickle cell disease to blindness, but where should society draw the line in editing genes?

 

An illustration of antibodies attacking SARS-CoV-2

mRNA technology promises to revolutionize future vaccines and treatments for cancer, infectious diseases

The first U.S. vaccines against the disease emerged from decades of university research and may portend a faster, cheaper way to combat other illnesses. But challenges remain.

 

A diverse doctor and patient talk in an exam room

Clinical trials seek to fix their lack of racial mix

Most drugs have been tested primarily on White men, casting doubt about their efficacy for others. Researchers are trying to diversify who participates in studies.

 

Innovations in health care

A nurse in hospital scrubs looks up from her checklist

Hospitals innovate amid dire nursing shortages

COVID-19’s latest surge exacerbates long-standing forces driving nursing shortfalls, prompting an all-hands-on-deck scramble to maintain patient care.

 

Question mark symbol. Online appointment portal concept illustration

What happens to telemedicine after COVID-19?

Hoping to stem COVID-19, authorities dramatically expanded telemedicine access during the pandemic. But now many emergency rules are ending, and patients and providers worry they’ll lose the benefits of remote care.

 

Female African American doctor visits with her Senior Caucasian patient.

Prescription for America’s elder boom: Every doctor learns geriatrics

Faced with an aging population and a physician shortage, hospitals create geriatric collaborations to manage patients and raise the elder care skills of all doctors.

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