Tagged: tufts

A Doctor Writes

manchandaThere are physicians who can write—Atul Gawande is Exhibit A—but they are uncommon. Rishi Manchanda is one of them, if “Wide-Angle Healing” in the Winter 2014 issue of Tufts Medicine is any indication. Manchanda’s piece is a cogent, well-wrought explication of all that’s wrong with emphasizing medical care in US health-care thinking.

The physician-author, who is founder and president of HealthBegins, a new health care company in Los Angeles, opens with an effective narrative from his personal clinical experience:

It was an unseasonably warm spring day in south-central Los Angeles in 2011. Veronica, a 33-year-old woman, sat in my exam room, her head in her hands. Her otherwise tall and formidable figure was slouched over in pain. This was not the first time she had felt this way. For more than a year her headaches had come and gone. And each time, the pain would ripple through her life, disrupting her family and work. This episode was no different. She had missed about seven days of work as an office manager at an auto parts dealer in the past month.

Good start. Manchanda uses Veronica’s case as an example of someone who had received treatment that he describes as “what is generally considered adequate care.” Adequate even though Veronica continued to have debilitating headaches. It was only after his clinic noted that her apartment was afflicted with leaks, mold, and roaches, that he could correctly diagnose her problem as a reaction to what she (and her children) had been breathing in the apartment and finally deliver an effective intervention to make her well.

I noted Manchanda’s cogency:

The nature-vs.-nurture debate can no longer be viewed as a battle between equals. The impact of nurture—in the form of the social and environmental settings that surround us—is far more powerful than we’ve ever imagined These are the forces that shape or distort our genes, our behaviors and the landscape of opportunity in our communities.

These essays in alumni magazines frequently suffer from being mealy mouthed; authors shy from asserting anything that might provoke. Manchanda writes like he means it:

I would suggest that the current standard of care itself is simply unacceptable, from a moral and an economic perspective.

That would have been a stronger statement without the “I would suggest” bit, but it still stands out from the vanilla banality that permeates so many university magazines. Good work.


Got you covered

A pair of terrific covers landed in my mailbox recently.

The first was from Drew Magazine, the dependably fine magazine from Drew University in New Jersey:



You can’t tell from the digital facsimile, but the cover text is reverse embossed silver foil. The cover story is about the school’s most recent campaign, written as a narrative of an urgent and successful—yeah, yeah, spoiler—push to reverse a decline in the participation rate. Editor Renée Olsen followed with five short profiles of contributors. Then comes a 50-page honor roll of donors. Publishing campaign honor rolls is not an editorial practice that I endorse, but sometimes an editor’s gotta do what an editor’s gotta do.

The second cover was from Tufts Magazine:


The cover story is “Up in Arms,” a fascinating piece by Colin Woodard about how the current contention regarding gun laws derives from how North America was settled. When I first glanced at the magazine, I loved the cover but was not enthused about another gun control story, because I’ve grown sick of American society’s appalling inability to even conduct the conversation. But I started in on the story anyway, and I’m glad I did. Woodard, a Tufts alum, is the author of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Regional Cultures of North America (Penguin 2012), and this story is drawn from that work. His thesis is that the United States can be divided into 11 regions with distinct dominant cultures, and each region has a different attitude toward violence and gun culture, derived in part from who settled there. Woodard first summarizes the settlement and cultural characteristics of each of his 11 sub-nations, then discusses the correlations between patterns of violence and those delineations. He also explores the regional attitudes towards gun laws, self-defense laws, and capital punishment. It’s a fascinating piece.

UMag inbox: Lots of pictures

swatcoverA couple of terrific covers in my inbox. The first is from Swarthmore, a photo of Jackie Morgen, founder of the Swat Circus at the college, by Laurence Kesterson. The “cover story” is about seven inches in the front of the book, which strikes me as odd. I’m still not quite on board with the thinking that the cover story need not be a feature. But the counter-argument is that your cover works if it gets people to pick up and open the magazine, and this one works in that regard. (Sherri Kimmel edits the magazine.)

tuftscoverThe second cover, which I really love, comes courtesy of Tufts. For those of you who can’t place the school, Tufts is in Boston. In the wake of the bombing of this year’s Boston Marathon, editor David Brittan ran a tribute to Tufts marathoners, including former student Bobbi Gibb, who in 1966 defied a ban on female runners in the marathon, snuck into the field disguised as a man, and as far as anyone knows became the first woman to complete the race, running the 26.2 miles in 3:21. Photographer Kathleen Dooher was assigned the job of creating a striking cover image of a Gibb, and man oh man did she succeed.

Dartmouth Medicine has updated its design package. Editor is Amos Esty; design by Bates Creative. Below are covers from before and after. (Click on all of these if you want to see them honkin’ big.)

dmcover1   dmcover2


ricecoverWhile we’re asking various magazines “have you done something different with your hair?” I have to note a redesign I love, at Rice. It was executed by the magazine’s newish (as of November 2012) art director Erick Delgado. I’d point you to an electronic version or PDF edition so you could admire more of it, but the magazine does not seem to be online. Lynn Gosnell edits.

vettatsFinally, LMU out of Loyola Marymount has a great six-page spread on memorial tattoos. Written by editor Joseph Wakelee-Lynch, “Ink Tank” describes and samples the Memorial Ink project by Andrew Ranson. Ranson finds veterans who bear tattoos that memorialize comrades who were killed in action, then interviews them and photographs their memorials. The magazine’s website has created a gallery of the Jon Rou photos that accompanied the story.

How’s this for coordination?

The Tufts University publishing empire—note the array above—hit a new mark for a coordinated communications strategy with its Spring 2011 editions. Each magazine published the same Taylor McNeil interview with incoming president Anthony Monaco (below). Same text, same four-page spread. The only thing that differed is where the editors ran the piece. Julie Flaherty led the feature well of Tufts Nutrition with the Q&A; Helene Ragovin held it for pg. 26 of Tufts Dental Medicine.

Tufts Magazine, the flagship publication edited by David Brittan, was first to publish the Q&A in its Winter 2011 edition. Brittan notes that a central publications office produces all five titles and coordinates content when there’s a major event or announcement, such as, in this case, a new president. This way of working arose from an institutional branding effort around 2004 and 2005 (just before Brittan arrived) and the conclusion that the Tufts professional school magazines were too disparate in presentation and all concerned would benefit from a more consistent look.

The circulations of Tufts and the divisional magazines overlap, to varying degrees, but Brittan says he fields few complaints from readers who notice duplicate content. He adds that unlike his magazine, each of the four professional school magazines circulates to non-alumni who have some connection to the schools; those readers do not receive Brittan’s flagship title, so a story in a divisional publication is the only way to reach them.

Toothsome design

I concede that when I found the Fall 2010 issue of Tufts Dental Medicine in my mailbox, I did not immediately think, “Bet this one has good graphics.” I’d never seen the magazine, edited by Karen Bailey, but I did not imagine a dental school periodical would have much flair. So much for what I know. I didn’t realize that the magazine has a resourceful design staff of design director Margot Grisar and senior designer Betsy Hayes. TDM‘s design is clean and understated, with nothing that leaps out and loudly demands some attention, but it’s smart and clever.

For example (click the images for a closer look), this is the opening page of a story about dentists dealing with anxious patients (that is, people like me):

More of the cleverness I’m talking about, for a story about health care reform:

I also like “The D List,” “a smattering of dentistry tidbits to inform, amuse, and amaze.” Did you know that North American kids spend $500 million each year on chewing gum, or if you start smoking cigarettes at the rate of a pack a day when you’re 18, by the time you are 35 you will be at risk for losing four or five teeth? Me neither.