Holding pattern: Helicopter parenting in higher ed


Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 10.27.04 PMWhen I was a kid, my mom would send me out to play after breakfast and I wouldn’t come home until dinner.

Scores of older Americans describe their childhoods this way. Kids today know little of this freedom to wander during unstructured Saturdays. Between organized play dates and soccer games coached by mom or dad, today’s kids grow up with a lot more parental supervision than their parents did.

One particular brand of supervision — where mom or dad is always hovering just a few feet away even after their children have grown — has become something of a cultural phenomenon. Last year alone, helicopter parents and their adult children were the subject of stories in Forbes, Time, U.S. News & World Report, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Times, New York Post and Psychology Today.

In these stories, parents called graduate school admissions offices on their children’s behalf and sat in on meetings with their grown son’s and daughter’s professional career coaches, among other jaw-dropping faux pas.

Studies show that the parenting style probably hasn’t reached the epidemic proportions the media suggest, but it is nevertheless a reality professors, administrators and students face at many universities.

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The new normal: The ethics of neuroenhancement

The new normal

Are we on the cusp of a future where we can just take a pill to work longer, learn faster and achieve more? Is that a world where we want to live?

“Jason,” a pre-med student at Georgia State, holds leadership roles in several clubs, has conducted research with doctors at a local hospital and still makes time for his girlfriend, who’s also a college student. And most recently, Jason has taken a weekend restaurant job to help pay his rent.

“I used to use weekends to catch up on my school work, but I don’t have that anymore,” he says. But these activities haven’t prevented Jason from taking a full load every semester. He recently learned he’ll graduate in the fall, a semester early. But how has he managed to study?

Jason clears entire days to hunker down and hit the books, and on those days, he takes a Vyvanse. The central nervous system stimulant, a type of amphetamine prescribed to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can improve focus and concentration. It can also reduce hyperactive, impulsive behaviors, such as the impulse to check Facebook 12 times before you finish reading a single paragraph of your textbook. In some people, these effects improve learning, recall and working memory, the ability to temporarily hold information, such as a phone number, in your head.

“It gives you a hardcore motivation to sit down and study the most mundane topics for a really long time,” Jason says. “You can do work that you would otherwise procrastinate on. Procrastination is a serious issue in college.”

When Jason told his longtime family doctor that he couldn’t focus in school, the doctor skipped the standard ADHD testing and said, “You seem like a really motivated student, and I’ve been in your shoes before,” Jason recalls. Then the doctor wrote him a prescription for Vyvanse.

But many more pre-meds take ADHD medications than just those who have a prescription, Jason admits.

“Quite frankly,” he says, “they go around like candy. If you don’t have a friend who has it, you’ll have a friend who knows someone who has it.” Continue reading

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Immunotherapy brings new hope to cancer fight

Screen shot 2014-11-14 at 11.29.45 AMTwenty-year-old Milton Wright III’s life seemed to finally be on track. After a lifetime of interruptions to his education, his football career, and his plans to join the Marines, he found his way. He had launched a modeling career and appeared in ads for brands including Zumiez and Adidas. He had all but forgotten he’d ever had cancer.

Then Wright slipped on a sidewalk in 2013 and heard his ribs crack. He walked himself the few blocks to Seattle Children’s Hospital. The hospital was a familiar place. He had lived near it since at age 8, when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He had then spent several years there in treatment for two bouts of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the second when he was 15.

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Will 3D printing revolutionize medicine?

Screen shot 2014-11-14 at 11.29.45 AM

Sydney Kendall lost her right arm below the elbow in a boating accident when she was 6 years old. Now 13, Sydney has used several prosthetic arms. But none is as practical — nor as cool, shed argue — as her pink, plastic, 3-D-printed robotic arm.’


The arm was custom-designed for her this spring, in pink at her request, by engineering students at Washington University in St. Louis through a partnership with Shriners Hospital. They printed it while Sydney and her parents watched.

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The Science of Fat

fat opening line

“Introducing Diet Coke” was the commercial jingle in everyone’s head that announced the zero-calorie soft drink’s arrival on the market. And fitness celebrity Richard Simmons hosted a top-rated talk show. Fitness was in fashion, but Americans just kept getting fatter. In the 1980s, Americans underwent their greatest weight gain in recorded history. And we haven’t taken the weight off since.

For 20 years, from 1960 to 1980, the nation’s obesity rate held steady at 13 to 15 percent of the adult population, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But from 1980 to 1988, nearly 10 percent more American adults became obese to include 23 percent of the population. Ten more years added another nearly 10 percent. In 1999, 30 percent of American adults were obese. And the number has steadily risen since then. Today, more than one in three Americans over age 20 is obese. The weight-loss industry is valued at $20 billion. And 108 million Americans are on a diet at any given time.

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When the smoke clears


This article received a 2013 Award for Excellence in Health Care Journalism from the Association of Health Care Journalists.

On a Saturday afternoon in September, dozens of ex-smokers fill a shop tucked into an office park off Highway 316 in Lawrenceville, Ga. From the parking lot, a haze is visible inside the shop. On the door, a handwritten sign reads, “We ID! Must be 18+ to try or purchase any e-cig products.”

The haze inside, unlike cigarette smoke, clears as quickly as it rises, taking with it the scent of vanilla. It rises again, followed by baked apples, next cherries, then tropical fruit.

The ex-smokers aren’t sneaking a smoke. They’re “vaping” electronic cigarettes — rechargeable pipes and cigarette-shaped devices that vaporize food-flavored liquid nicotine — at the grand opening of Steam Cigs, a “vape” shop and lounge.

No law requires that Steam Cigs be hidden from view in an office park. Nor is the shop forbidden to sell to minors. In fact, e-cigarettes and other “novel nicotine products” enjoy much greater visibility than conventional cigarettes do. A relatively new product, e-cigarettes fly under the radar and skirt regulations that conventional cigarettes must follow. But that may soon change. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have begun to explore regulations of the sale, marketing and consumption of these new products. Continue reading

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WebMD News Wire

The monthly news wire from WebMD Magazine — news you can use from the latest discoveries in science and health.Wire Jan:Feb 14_Page 1

Wire Jan:Feb 14_Page 2

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Med school on the five-year plan

At a time when some are calling to shorten medical school, many Yale students are extending it.

Like most of his classmates, Julius Oatts is staying on at the School of Medicine for a fifth year of study. This option, available for more than 20 years, has become increasingly popular, with as many as two-thirds of each class adding a year to their medical studies, primarily to do research. For Oatts, an extra year gives him the chance to try on the lifestyle of a physician-scientist. “It’s easy to say you’re interested in patient care and research in the beginning of med school, but this is the first time that I have seen what the day-to-day of that is like, both the challenges and the benefits,” Oatts said, who’s doing research in ophthalmology. “You take a project and it’s yours for the year.”

At a time when some are calling to shorten medical training, more than half of Yale students are choosing to extend it. Continue reading

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In the No

Feeling overwhelmed? Get to know your limits

It’s 9 p.m., and you’re still at work.  You couldn’t relax at home with unfinished work on your desk. And if you don’t get this done, your boss will be upset. At least that’s what you think.

It isn’t the work that leaves you unable to relax. It’s that you see that work as a threat. Stress is not a reaction to an event but rather to how you interpret the event, says psychologist Allan Cohen, Psy.D. You think, “If I don’t work late every night, I will get fired,” or “My boss won’t like me,” or “My co-workers won’t respect me.” Continue reading

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Serving her community

Lisa Catall of Rite Aid sees room to help patients more through medication therapy management

When Bhavesh Dhabliwala walked into his neighborhood Rite Aid last November, he just wanted something for his gas pain.  But if he hadn’t met pharmacist Lisa Catall, “What would’ve happened? Who knows? Maybe I wouldn’t be talking to you,” Dhabliwala says.

Dhabliwala expected the pharmacist to simply point him down the right aisle, but he didn’t know who he was dealing with. Continue reading

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