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Dr Layla McCay
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In a sentence: physician, policy wonk, aspiring polymath, and Brit about town.

In more than a sentence: Layla finds herself in professions beginning with the letter P: physician, pathologist, psychiatrist, and policy. Her focus is public health and her aspiration is polymath.

Layla has worked as Clinical Advisor to the World Health Organization in Geneva, and to the British Government. She has been Assistant Medical Director for Bupa, and Director for Basic Needs (a leading international mental health NGO). She's conducted health services research at Glasgow, Osaka, Harvard, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, LSE and LSHTM, teaches global health, and has published in journals including The Lancet and BMJ. Special subjects include mental heath, healthcare quality and safety, mHealth, and eHealth.

When not at work, Layla considers herself a science/literature/geography/word nerd, attends random events from the glamorous to the quirky, explores the world (over 50 countries so far, and counting), runs a storytelling night, writes a book blog, and livetweets from many of the various events she attends.

Layla was recently named Britain's 'top' professional woman under 35. She currently lives in Washington DC with her wife.

All blogs express Layla's personal thoughts, opinions, and random musings, and not those of the organizations to which she is or has been affiliated, unless otherwise specified.

Entries by Dr Layla McCay

Women in STEM: It's Time to Redesign the Pipeline

(6) Comments | Posted April 2, 2014 | 5:06 PM

Apparently, a key reason that young women aren't choosing careers in STEM is dating. Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College, found concern that their 'geeky' male classmates will present poor social prospects is genuinely one of three key barriers to young women entering STEM (along with concerns...

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The Etiquette of Personal Mobile Device Use in Public

(0) Comments | Posted January 17, 2014 | 4:46 PM

Probably one of the more mortifying moments of my mother's life happened when she was at a talk by the Dalai Lama. At a particularly meaningful moment in his speech, the thing we all dread happened: her cellphone started ringing. She was aghast. The audience was aghast. This was back...

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Why mHealth Is Caught Between Vision and Reality

(2) Comments | Posted December 9, 2013 | 10:01 PM

This morning I braved snow and a two-hour, three-forms-of-public-transport expedition to the Gaylord National Conference Center to prepare for the future. In its fifth year, the mHealth Summit is the place for mHealth aficionados from the clinical, policy, tech, business, and academic worlds to come together, show and...

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Why We Should Let Go of Nostalgia and Embrace the Evolution of Libraries

(2) Comments | Posted October 10, 2013 | 11:49 AM

As my cable car smoothly glided towards the old slum areas of Medellin in Colombia, I soared above a hillside lined by basic, tin-roofed abodes... and one gigantic, architecturally intriguing building -- my destination: the Spain library.

In my pre-internet youth, libraries were my personal treasure trove. It wasn't...

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Why Today's 13-year-old LinkedIn Users Might Revolutionize Tomorrow's Workplace

(0) Comments | Posted September 4, 2013 | 5:40 PM

While hiding from the riots in an ill-timed vacation to Colombia this week, a couple of Financial Times articles caught my eye. My penchant for the potential of social media compelled me to click on Robert Shrimsley's article on LinkedIn opening up to those as young as thirteen...

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Lunch Date Dilemma: Little Black Book of Scientists or Little Colorful Book of Sci-lit?

(1) Comments | Posted June 25, 2013 | 9:50 AM

Is science literature an essential tool for democratizing research, or is it a relic of a pre-internet age? During the excellent World Science Festival in New York a few weeks ago, I sensed this unspoken question percolating through many of the "we-love-science-lit" sessions I attended, and I was...

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Drawing Inspiration From TEDMED's 'GroupInspire'

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2013 | 9:38 AM

Ah, TEDMED, you expensive but addictive drug. I just can't get enough of you. Can it have been a whole year since that golden ticket slipped through my letterbox, admitting me, albeit for just one morning, to your exclusive world of inspiration and innovation?

You may recall...

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The Ephemeral Fugitives of Global Health Research

(0) Comments | Posted April 1, 2013 | 12:22 PM

This week I went to the launch of a brand new journal, Global Health: Science and Practice. Funded by USAID, and supported by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, George Washington University and Knowledge for Health, it hits all the buzzwords of the global health and development zeitgeist:...

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The Strange Joy Of Visiting Foreign Hospitals

(3) Comments | Posted March 13, 2013 | 7:30 AM

I have a nerdy hobby that's usually only indulged in adversity: I love visiting foreign hospitals.

Give me the choice of viewing a museum or a hospital on vacation and I will opt for the latter -- only as a passing visitor, ideally. Foreign healthcare can be a risky business,...

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Let's Come Out and Surprise People With the Ordinariness of Being Gay

(16) Comments | Posted January 25, 2013 | 8:56 PM

If I were Rory Albanese's sister (or his sister's girlfriend), I'd have been furious. On Saturday night I went to see Albanese and his Daily Show co-stalwart Adam Lowitt at their inauguration-themed comedy show at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C., but amid the political wit,...

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Where Are the Women Speakers on Expert Panels, and Does It Matter?

(1) Comments | Posted January 16, 2013 | 3:51 PM

Browsing my speaker list at the Washington Ideas Forum a few weeks ago, billed as 'a place to hear and meet the most prominent thinkers of our time,' I couldn't help but notice that 35 out of the 41 speakers at the event were men, and being in...

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Would You Put Your Live Twitter Feed on Your Resume?

(6) Comments | Posted November 29, 2012 | 3:48 PM

Would you be comfortable if your latest tweets were used as part of the recruitment process for a university place, or for a new job? I was intrigued by an American Medical Association article drawing attention to a survey of medical school/residency recruiters published earlier this...

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Working 9-5: An Anachronism to End or Embrace?

(6) Comments | Posted November 12, 2012 | 1:00 PM

Is working 9-5 an anachronism? Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of The Atlantic magazine's most popular article ever, "Why Women Still Can't Have it All," thinks it is. By 'having it all,' she means simultaneously being a good mother and having a top job. And as for whether we can...

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Do Women Care About More Than Children, Lovelife and Fashion?

(0) Comments | Posted November 1, 2012 | 9:28 AM

As a woman who very much believes that men and women are equal in most respects and ought to be treated as such, I feel sorry to call foul on actress Maria Bello, recently named goodwill ambassador for women by Haiti's president, for her advocacy work with women...

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Do Mobile Entrepreneurs Live in a World Without Borders, or Is It All 'Globaloney'?

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2012 | 1:10 PM

How relevant are national borders today? David Livingstone famously wrote in the 1850s that the innovation of railroads, steamships and telegraphs make the world one -- national borders melt away and Africa could basically be integrated into Europe. The more modern version of those modes of connection -- the plane,...

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Time to Stop Playing Business Card Scrabble With Our Qualifications?

(0) Comments | Posted October 4, 2012 | 8:24 AM

This week both my real life and my Twitter feed have been jumping with the question of post-nominal letters: what letters (if any) should you put after your name on a business card? I live in Washington D.C. where business cards are traded like gold. It's not a secret that...

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The 'Right' Way To Travel: My Defection From The 'Holier Than Thou' Brigade

(5) Comments | Posted September 24, 2012 | 7:30 AM

If there's one thing that irritates me, it's people who think they are "holier than thou" when it comes to travel. These are the people who trump every travel experience you mention with one of their own that they consider intrepidly superior to your pedestrian efforts. Went to the local...

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Is Leadership a Dirty Word in America?

(1) Comments | Posted September 17, 2012 | 4:25 PM

Last year I won a UK prize essentially for my leadership skills. This year, with nominations for the prize opening, I mentioned it to a friend here in Washington DC. "Oh no," she said. "Americans would never claim leadership in their skillset."

This concept completely floored me, because in...

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Who Stole My Identity, and Do I Get It Back? Why Having a Baby Is Like Becoming a Physician

(0) Comments | Posted September 7, 2012 | 2:04 PM

A few days ago, I looked at my Facebook feed and realized that it was dominated by photographs of babies. There were interjections about little Molly's chicken pox, a (subjectively) charming pronouncement from baby Bob. Eventually, upon further scrolling, I came to some comments about the Olympics, the upcoming US...

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Let the Games Begin: How the UK/Brazil Olympic Hunger Event is Winning More Than Gold Medals

(0) Comments | Posted August 13, 2012 | 4:30 PM

In the lead up to Sunday's Olympic hunger event, my head kept inadvertently dubbing the event 'The Hunger Games'. On the surface, an event to call on world leaders to step up efforts to reduce child malnutrition doesn't appear to have much to do with a post-apocalyptic novel/blockbuster...

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