How to Save $$$ on Textbooks

24 08 2010

As a typical strapped-for-cash resident, I’m always looking for ways to save a couple bucks on textbooks.  I’ve posted previously about getting in on Amazon Prime with a .edu e-mail address, and, today, LifeHacker has a few more crowd-sourced tips on where to find cheap textbooks.  Some of the sites are familiar players.  Others, however, were new to me, so I thought I’d pass them along! From LH:

Chegg offers a nice compromise between buying the overpriced textbooks at your local bookstore and shopping for iffy-quality used books online. At Chegg you don’t purchase your books; you rent them for a semester. The Chegg discount, compared to retail prices, is anywhere from 30%-80% off, with most book rentals falling around the 50% mark. You rent them a semester, a quarter, or a 60-day rental window and then ship them back for free with a prepaid UPS label. You won’t be able to find books at pennies on the dollar like you can by scrounging for used or out-of-print editions elsewhere, but you do get a 30-day “any reason” return policy and free return shipping.

No one should be surprised to find out that Amazon has their hand in the textbook business. The book superstore originally offered textbooks mixed in with the rest of their book offerings, both new and discounted through their third-party marketplace. Now Amazon has a dedicated student/textbook section with enhanced textbook search and student-centric features. They even offer a free Amazon Prime membership to anyone with a valid student email address (even if you have an Amazon Prime account already, they will refund you the remaining balance and extend your Prime membership a year into the future). With careful shopping you can find textbooks anywhere from new with a slight discount to heavily-used and extremely discounted.

AbeBooks is a massive online marketplace for new, used, and rare books. They have a bustling textbook section with new and used books that average 50% off retail—we found quite a few books in our test searches that crept up in the 75-90% range, however. AbeBooks has a 30-day return policy and an easy-to-use sell-back program—plug in the ISBNs, print off a free mailing label, and ship them back for cash in your pocket.

Half.com, an eBay subsidiary, offers cheap media and books including textbooks. Like a giant used bookstore/record store equivalent of eBay, Half.com is a great place to find cheap textbooks. Low prices aside, one of the strong selling points for textbook shopping at Half.com is their Buying Wizard. Using the Buying Wizard you can search for the books you need and the wizard will search all the deals on Half.com to find you the best combination of prices and combined shipping to get your textbooks faster and cheaper.

BIGWORDS is the textbook website that put seller/shipping optimization on the map with their Multi-Item Price Optimization services. When you search for textbooks at BIGWORDS, they scan dozens of other textbook retailers and resellers to find you the absolute bargain basement prices. When the semester is over you can use the BIGWORDS engine in reverse to sell them all back or donate your textbooks through Better World Books to help fight illiteracy in developing nations.

So I did a quick search for ‘Rosai and Ackerman’s Surgical Pathology’ just to see how Pathology-resident-friendly each service could be, and I got some interesting results.

Chegg: Found, but unavailable at all outlets

Amazon: $375 new or $325 used + free shipping with Amazon Prime

Abe: $274 for “International Edition” + $9.99 shipping

Half: $488 new + ??? for shipping

BigWords: $233 for 130 day RENTAL + free shipping

Pretty interesting results, eh?  So it seems that AbeBooks is the clear victor in this case, but “International Version”??  I had never heard of such a thing.  When you mouse over it, it says the following: “The publishers of the international versions do not authorize the sale and distribution of international editions in the United States and Canada, and such the sale and distribution may violate the copyrights and trademarks of such publishers.”  Yikes!  However, there was an additional copy of the North American version for the same price right below it; still, interesting.  Also novel to me is this concept of textbook RENTAL offered by BigWords.  Could be useful for a particular project, paper or case, but to rent it for basically the price of purchasing it?!  Yea, I’m going to pass on that one.

Another tip I’ve used:  I subscribe to the Barnes&Noble and Borders email bacn (aka spam that you kind of want), and they will occasionally send out e-coupons for significant discounts on their products.  During my PGY-1 year, I was able to get Sternberg’s 2-volume set at 40% off using one of these coupons.  So I would suggest signing up for those as well.

Finally, ask your attendings!  I’ve gotten copies of Rosai, Kurman and Kjeldsberg from various attendings over the years for free!  Whether they were getting rid of books they didn’t use any more or they were updating to the most recent edition, I’ve often been the beneficiary of my bosses’ great collective generosity!

Do you have any great tips on getting a handle on textbooks on the cheap?  Please share them in the comments below!




Roche Acquires BioImagene

24 08 2010

Wow.  Just wow.

Thanks to Digital Pathology Blog for the news.  This could be a pretty big shake-up in the industry.  The deal gives Roche’s subsidiary Ventana a 100% share in BioImagene moving forward.  I, personally, have been a fan of the tech coming out of both camps over the years, and I am super-interested to see where this goes…  Too bad that I didn’t hear about this ahead of time so I could have moved some stocks around ;-)

Re-Post of Press Release from DPB:

Roche acquires BioImagene, a leading provider of digital pathology laboratory solutions

Acquisition further strengthens Roche’s global leadership in tissue-based cancer diagnostics and research

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) announced today that it has signed an agreement under which Ventana Medical Systems Inc., a member of the Roche Group, will acquire 100 percent of BioImagene, Inc., a privately held company based in Sunnyvale, California. The purchase price is approximately 100 million US dollars on a debt-free basis. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the coming weeks.

BioImagene is an innovative leader in the field of digital pathology workflow and analysis. Digital pathology is a suite of dynamic, image-based technologies that enable image capture, information management, image analysis and virtual sharing of patients’ tissue samples on glass slides.

“As part of the personalised healthcare approach, pathologists are increasingly involved in generating information with high impact on treatment decisions,” said Daniel O’Day, COO Roche Diagnostics. “The increasing complexity of new tests and technologies creates tremendous need for more sophisticated tools for tissue analysis and diagnosis. BioImagene products will complement and strengthen our current offering in image analysis and information management.”

“With its leadership position in pathology and its global reach, Ventana is the ideal partner for BioImagene,” commented Ajit Singh, CEO of BioImagene, Inc. “Ventana is already a leader in image analysis for breast cancer applications and has a wide range of market-leading diagnostics products used in hospitals and laboratories worldwide. In turn, BioImagene brings to Ventana additional capabilities for scanning and analysing tissue that are not possible in the glass-slide world.”

BioImagene’s products create high-resolution, whole-slide digital images from glass microscope slides. They also provide the software to view, analyze and manage tissue images using a computer, taking pathology beyond traditional microscope applications. In addition, their products improve workflow efficiency in image archiving and retrieval, remote case review, and turnaround time.

“Through this acquisition, Ventana is uniquely positioned to improve laboratory efficiency and help pathologists improve patient care,” said Hany Massarany, President of Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. “Our VIAS Image Analysis System was the first entry into the digital pathology market and is now the leading system for automated image analysis in breast cancer. With BioImagene’s current and future products we will be able to deliver an end-to-end solution from automated staining to comprehensive patient reports.”





Flickr Series: Skin Adnexal Tumors

20 08 2010

I’ve been on DermPath for the past two months and I’ve started to amass a few interesting basic and complex cases.  At my fingertips I had some 1st-year-level spot-the-pattern cases, so I upped some images to flickr.

Diagnoses?

Case 1:

Case 2:

Case 3:





Pathology Informatics 2010 Annual Meeting Expanded to Meet Demand

17 08 2010

This is great!!

Bruce Friedman reports over at LabSoft News that this year’s Pathology Informatics Conference will be bigger than ever, smashing the previous record of abstract and e-poster submissions to 60 and 24, respectively!  This is great news, as it seems that Informatics really is a burgeoning field, and people are really starting to take notice of its importance and usefulness in daily practice.

The conference starts September 19, 2010 in Boston and runs for most of the week.  You can get more information about it here.

I really want to go, but am still hoping to get the CAP travel stipend that I applied for……. *cough cough* ;-)





http://www.1xObjective.com Now Live!!!

10 08 2010

I finally took the time to go about registering an official domain!  Only took a year and a half, lol.  I’m just glad the domain was still available!

For the record, however, http://robstak.wordpress.com still works as well.

That is all.  Have a great day!





Writing a Curriculum for an Informatics Rotation

10 08 2010

With the ACGME visit just around the corner, we’ve begun the typical frantic scramble to ensure a 100% dotted-i and crossed-t count here at AMC.  Part of that dance included updating/creating curricula for some of the CP rotations here.  As such, I volunteered to create a formal curriculum for our Pathology Informatics Rotation which is currently based on the one used at University of Pittsburgh.

I had never written such a document before, so I started by attempting to Google others that I could use as a scaffold; perhaps unsurprisingly, there wasn’t much out there, so I decided to use another rotation’s curriculum as a base and just work from there.  The wording was a bit challenging, but I think in the end it came together nicely.

That said, I present the following.
Please add your thoughts/comments below!

PATHOLOGY INFORMATICS

Overall Objectives:

Pathology Informatics is a broad and burgeoning discipline.  As technology is ever-evolving, it has become incumbent upon pathologists to keep abreast of the upcoming trends and innovations in the field of Informatics, both on the Clinical and Anatomic sides of Pathology.  At this point, basic computational competency is required for the normal conduction of the practice of pathology with new technologies being integrated into general practice on an increasingly frequent basis.

Unlike some other disciplines, there is a significant variance in the individual’s starting experience and comfort level associated with Informatics.  As such, the goal of this rotation is to provide both a solid foundation in the general terminology and basic functions and applications of Pathology Inforamtics in daily practice as well as insight into some of the more complex areas of the field including the discussion of evolving technologies.

Topics to be covered include: hardware and software basics, networking and communication standards, Laboratory Information Systems (LIS), efficient internet-based literature search techniques, basic data analysis, digital imaging and telepathology, quality control and regulation issues and emerging technologies.

Because the field changes so rapidly, it is most appropriate that the curriculum be primarily based on the internet (as opposed to printed paper), and therefore consist primarily of a series of self-paced Power Point lectures and trusted web sites including the web curriculum originally developed by the University of Pittsburgh (Source: https://secure.opi.upmc.edu/VRPI/index.cfm)

Specific Goals of the Rotation:

At the completion of the Rotation the Resident should:

  • Understand the basic hardware and software components involved in basic computing.
  • Be familiar with the different types of digital imaging for gross and microscopic specimens.
  • Be able to conduct an efficient literature search using various online resources.
  • Understand the basic purpose and function of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Lab Information Software (LIS)
  • Understand the principle behind software databasing and its use in anatomic and clinical pathology practices.
  • Realize the privacy concerns raised by digital-based information and communication.

Specific Competencies for Pathology Informatics

The Resident Will:

1.            Patient Care:

  • Show understanding of the possible uses of technology to improve the expedition of patient care.
  • Realize the current limitations of available technologies.

2.            Medical Knowledge:

  • Demonstrate good fund of general medical knowledge as well as basic technical knowledge in the field of Informatics including:
    • Basic concepts behind digital microscopy, and telepathology.
    • The ability to identify different components of computer and microscope hardware.
    • Basic understanding of Lab Information Software (LIS) as well as database structure and function.
  • Be able to conduct efficient literature searches using various reputable periodical search engines.

3.              Practice-based Learning and Improvement:

  • Feel confident using a computer and the internet for work-related activities.
  • Be able to scan a glass side into digital form using the NanoZoomer.

4.             Interpersonal and Communication Skills:

  • Be able to utilize various digital means of communication between fellow physicians, staff and patients.
  • Improve comfort level in delivering PowerPoint-based presentations.

5.            Professionalism:

  • Understand the particular nuances of privacy in the digital age and the legal differences between digital and traditional means of communication.
  • Be aware of the privacy concerns surrounding the storage and transmission of patient information.

6.            System-based Practice:

  • Investigate the current literature regarding the comparative accuracy and confidence associated with digital pathology as opposed to traditional glass side reading.
  • Be conscious of the scope of the cost of currently available and evolving technologies.  Be able to discuss the cost-effectiveness and practicality of adopting various hardware or software solutions.
  • Understand the concept of standards for the exchange of information between different interfaces.

Rotation Requirements:

  • Take the online pre-test.
  • Complete online syllabus originally created by the University of Pittsburgh, found here:
  • Read the required chapters from the Sinard Book.
  • Prepare a 15-30 minute lecture on a specific area of Informatics for resident presentation.
  • Digitize at least one slide into the NanoZoomer.
  • Complete the online post-test.

Method of Assessment:

  • Internet-based Pre- and Post-Rotational Test.
  • Lecture evaluations.
  • Self-assessment from pre/post-tests.




Hepatosplenic T-Cell Lymphoma

6 08 2010

Chris Cogbill has posted an interesting clinical/pathologic case presentation of Hepatosplenic T-Cell Lymphoma over at pathtalk.org worth checking out.

Inspired by it, I presented it today at our weekly CP Grand Rounds and added the following PowerPoint Presentation on the disease to augment the case:








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