August 22, 2003

Christie Scholars spend eight weeks in summer program

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Left to right, Anita Gupta, Jean Dobson, Tracey Wilkinson, Tamara Buckles, Cynthia Wilson and Julia Shaklee are six of the eight medical students that recently participated in the Amos Christie Pediatric Society Summer Scholarship program. Anne Rayner

Christie Scholars spend eight weeks in summer program

Through the Amos Christie Pediatric Society Summer Scholarship program, eight medical students were given the opportunity to explore pediatric medicine and gain hands-on experience at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital this summer. The students completed the eight-week program earlier this month.

Every year, the Christie Society program provides scholarships for Vanderbilt Medical students in their first or second year, allowing them to apply their studies and get clinical experience and patient contact. The program honors the former professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Amos Christie, and is sponsored by contributions from former students, trainees, colleagues and friends.

The scholarship recipients are able to explore various areas of pediatrics, from the newborn nursery to adolescent services. They shadow attending physicians, residents and senior medical students as they provide care to patients or work on medical research in the lab.

“The program is designed to allow the students to experience some of the principles of pediatrics,” said Dr. Harris D. Riley, Jr., professor of Pediatrics and chairman of the Christie Society Summer Scholars Program. “They work directly with pediatricians and can choose between clinical services and laboratory research.”

This year’s scholarships were awarded to Tamara Buckles, Cindy Chin, Jean Dobson, Julia Shaklee, Anita Gupta, Brent Savoie, Tracey Wilkinson and Cynthia Wilson.

“Since first year has virtually no clinical experience built in, this was my first time in a real hospital setting, seeing real patients,” Dobson said.

Dobson joined the program after her first year of medical school. She spent time in the pediatric ambulatory care clinic, the newborn nursery, the adolescent clinic and traveled abroad in the Philippines for her last two weeks.

“The Amos Christie Program has been monumental in my medical education thus far,” she said. “It has given me a head-start in clinical exposure, afforded me precious, priceless knowledge and experience, provided me with new mentors and friends — but most importantly to me, it has influenced my future. I came to realize that pediatrics is exactly the primary care specialty that I have been searching for.”

Another Christie Scholar, Tamara Buckles, entered the program after her second year of school, considering it a good transition into her clinical years of training. She hoped to gain patient experience and observe good role models.

“I was able to do both of these things throughout the summer,” Buckles said. “I loved the opportunity to interact with patients and their families. It was fun to take all of the book knowledge I have worked to learn throughout my first two years of medical school and apply it to real people. I have seen everything from neonatal circumcisions to adolescents with eating disorders. This summer has certainly fostered my interest in pediatrics.”

Each year, since 1990, the Christie Society program has allowed a small class of students to take a sneak peek into their future careers. “Each class of scholars brings something new to the program,” Riley said “This class is no exception.”