July 27, 2001

Christie scholars gain hands-on pediatric experience

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This year's Christie Scholars are (left to right): Elise Cornet, Phil Ciampa, Brett Battle, J. P. Norvell, Amanda Cooper, Jeffrey Venstrom, Andrea Legath, and Cory Vogt. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Christie scholars gain hands-on pediatric experience

Due to the rigorous class load and time spent studying, most medical school students receive limited clinical experience and patient contact until their third year in medical school.

So when the opportunity arose to gain hands-on experience with a paid stipend, many students applied for the scholarships. Nine were chosen. Seven are rising second year medical school students and two are rising third year.

The scholarships were provided by the Dr. Amos U. Christie Society, the estate of the late Darlene Hoffman, a longtime supporter of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, and several practicing physicians. The Christie Society program was created in 1990 and honors the former professor and chair of Pediatrics. Christie was chair from 1943 to 1968.

Christie fostered a philosophy that the Vanderbilt pediatrician should be the consummate clinician, compassionate and knowledgeable in all areas of pediatrics.

Through the program, the students were offered a variety of clinical and laboratory research opportunities in pediatrics. Options for the students included a two-week rotation in the newborn nursery, pediatric acute care clinic, adolescent service and a pediatric elective. One scholar spent the entire time in a laboratory. While they receive no class credit, students are provided a stipend and given insight into what their future might hold.

This year’s scholarship recipients are Jeanne Vogt, J.P. Norvell, Andrea Legath, Elise Cornet, Amanda Cooper, Philip Ciampa, Robert Peck, Jeffrey Venstrom, and volunteer Brett Battle.

“This has been the greatest experience,” explained J.P. Norvell from Potomac, Maryland. “It has been a tremendous opportunity to get into the hospital and interact with children.”

Norvell said he enjoyed interacting with the residents and attending physicians, who went out of their way to help educate and provide a welcoming learning environment.

And that is exactly what the program is designed to do, explained Dr. Harris Riley, Jr., professor of Pediatrics and chairman of the Christie Society Summer Scholars Program.

“It gives these young scholars the opportunity to learn in a great environment,” Riley said. “I’m sure that Dr. Christie would be very pleased with the program and its success.”

Andrea Legath from Morristown, New Jersey, said she had always been interested in pediatrics and had been craving to get into the clinic setting.

“It’s just so rare to be able to shadow these great physicians and get paid to do it,” she said. “It is just a fantastic program. We designed our own schedule, and we had the unique opportunity to select our own elective.”

Legath said she spent two weeks with a pediatrician in Camden, New Jersey in a private practice as her elective.

“It was great,” she said of her private practice experience. “Much like playing detective. We saw a little bit of everything.”