July 26, 2002

Christie Scholars receive valuable insight, training

Featured Image

This year’s Christie Scholars are, front row, left to right, Catherine Oelschig, Alison Frank and Natasha Magnuson. Back row: Danielle Rode, Rachel Glick and Jennifer Cannon. Lesley French, Michael Kinzer and Tiffany Kyle are not pictured. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Christie Scholars receive valuable insight, training

Receiving hands-on training early in a student’s medical education can prove to be invaluable experience. Because the class load of students is so demanding, most of them receive little clinical experience until their third year of medical school. However, when it comes to honing the skills necessary to become a physician, nothing beats on-the-job training and working closely with experienced physicians.

This year, eight Vanderbilt University Medical School students and one student from Meharry Medical College will get a taste of that experience through the Amos U. Christie Society, the estate of the late Darlene Hoffman, and several practicing physicians. Established in 1990, the Christie Society program honors the former professor and chair of Pediatrics from 1943 to 1968.

Christie believed that the Vanderbilt pediatrician should be a consummate clinician, focused on patient care and knowledgeable in all areas of pediatrics.

This year’s Christie Society Scholars are VUSM first-year students Jennifer Cannon, Alison Frank, Lesley French, Rachel Glick, Michael Kinzer, Natasha Magnuson, Catherine Oelschig, and Danielle Rode. Tiffany Kyle, a first-year medical student from Meharry is also participating.

The scholarship recipients are offered a variety of clinical and laboratory research opportunities in pediatrics. Some choose to work in the lab, while others opt for a clinical rotation allowing them to spend time in the newborn nursery, pediatric acute care clinic, adolescent unit, or in an elective period.

“The application is very competitive,” said Dr. Harris D. Riley Jr., professor of Pediatrics and chairman of the Christie Society Summer Scholar program. “The program’s popularity continues to increase.”

After a year spent primarily in the classroom, the scholars are given a chance to shadow attending physicians, residents and senior medical students who routinely provide care to patients. It also provides more in-depth understanding of the field of pediatric medicine.

“The Amos Christie Scholarship program has been a wonderful opportunity for me to get clinical experience between the first and second year of med. school when the primary curriculum focuses on books,” explained scholarship recipient Alison Frank. “It has also provided me with insight into pediatrics and how specific fields within pediatrics operate.”

Fellow student Michael Kinzer is using his scholarship as a way to learn more about pediatric infectious diseases. He is working under Dr. Peter Wright, professor of Pediatrics and associate professor of Microbiology & Immunology, alternating his time between following physicians on rounds and conducting research for Vanderbilt’s HIV Vaccine Trials Unit.

“The Christie Scholar program makes for a great transition between first and second years, with early and in-depth exposure to clinical medicine,” said Kinzer. “Personally, it has reinforced my interest in working with infectious diseases, particularly those that affect children in the U.S. and in the developing world.”

Practical experience that excites medical students and future physicians is just what the Christie program was designed to do and why so many students apply for the opportunity, according to Riley. While many of their colleagues may be taking the summer off, these students are gaining immeasurable exposure to a wide range of patients and conditions that face pediatricians every day — experience that most students will not see until much later in their education.

“The popularity of the program has grown progressively each year,” said Riley. “Each scholar brings something new to the program, and I know that Dr. Christie would be quite proud of this year’s group.”