Docs paid best in Dakotas

You're a beginning doctor, and you want to pay off those massive student loan debts as quickly as possible? Head west - but not too far west.

In a report issued last week, Medscape found that the state with the highest average pay for physicians in 2017 is North Dakota ($361,000), followed by South Dakota ($354,000) and then Nebraska ($346,000).

It's all about supply and demand, according to Medscape. States with the most acute shortages of doctors offer the best pay.

The report was issued just after Equal Pay Day, which called attention to gender differences in pay. Sure enough, the differences continue in the medical profession, as well. According to the Medscape findings, the male-female gap among primary care physicians has lessened but not disappeared. It hasn't diminished at all among specialists. In that category, men averaged 31 percent more pay than women last year.

A critical question

"Are you taking blood thinners?"

That's a question first responders should ask older adults with head injuries, argues a study and accompanying editorial last month in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

"Adding a question about the use of blood thinners in older adults to our field triage criteria could save lives," said Dr. Craig Newgard of Oregon Health & Science University, who wrote the editorial. Newgard was quoted in a news release from the American College of Emergency Physicians, which publishes the journal.

Older patients taking blood thinners are more likely to suffer bleeding in the brain if they have a head injury, Newgard said, and that requires "time-sensitive" surgery at a major trauma center.

The blood thinner question isn't currently part of standard procedure, Newgard said, but data from the study showed improved diagnosis when it was asked.

Mental health classes

The National Alliance on Mental Illness in Minnesota is sponsoring two classes in the Northland this month:

• A free class on substance abuse in older adults will be offered from 9-11 a.m. on April 25 at Grandma's in the Park, 1402 E. Howard St., Hibbing. For registration information, contact Janine at (218) 999-7552 or jhillpsych@gmail.com.

• A free class about risk factors, warning signs, stigma, treatment, recovery and resources for depression in older adults will take place from 10-11:30 a.m. April 26 at Benedictine Living Community Westwood Terrace, 935 Kenwood Ave., in the community room. For registration or information, contact NAMI Duluth at namiduluth@gmail.com.

Training for coaches

The Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging is seeking coaches for its "A Matter of Balance" program, and training is being offered.

The next training will be offered from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 22 and 23 at Itasca YMCA/Elder Circle, 400 River Road, Grand Rapids. The training costs $100; scholarships are available for those who are unable to pay. Registration is open through May 12, but numbers are limited. For registration or more information, contact Katey Fornear, (218) 529-7531 or kfornear@ardc.org.