August 8, 1997

Valuable experience on tap for this year’s crop of Christie Scholars

Valuable experience on tap for this year's crop of Christie Scholars

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Dr. Harris Riley Jr. with this year's Christie Scholars – (from left) Kenneth Heym, Anne Boyce, Robin Hickman, Laura Stobie, Anne Knudsen, and Chris Van Winkle. (Photo by Donna Marie Jones).

Several Vanderbilt medical students are gaining valuable clinical experience this summer thanks to the annual summer scholars program sponsored by the Dr. Amos U. Christie Pediatrics Society and the late Mrs. William P. Hoffman, a longtime supporter of Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

The program is placing seven students in VUMC's pediatric and adolescent wards, clinics, basic science laboratories and in offices of pediatricians.

"It is a real pleasure to have these students working with us during the summer. Each brings something new to the program," said Dr. Harris D. Riley Jr., professor of Pediatrics and chairman for the Christie Society summer scholars program at VUMC.

The program was created in 1990. The Christie Society honors Dr. Amos Christie, who was a professor and chairman of the department of Pediatrics from 1943-1968. He died in 1986.

"Dr. Christie was one of the real giants here at the medical school," Riley said.

In its first year, the Society sponsored only two scholars, but this number has since grown to seven, thanks in large part to scholarships provided by a bequest of Mrs. William Hoffman. Two of the scholarships are supported by this bequest, while three others are supported by Drs. William Wadlington, Sam Carney and the estate of Dr. William D. "Buck" Donald.

The scholarships allow the students to participate in an eight-week summer program to gain clinical and laboratory experience in pediatrics. The students spend two weeks each in the newborn nursery, the Pediatric Acute Care Clinic, adolescent service, and a subspecialty elective of their choice. These electives include research laboratories, a clinically oriented experience, and work in the office of a community pediatrician.

In each location, the students get a chance to shadow physicians and participate in physical diagnoses and do their own examinations.

Each year, the scholars are selected from a large group of applicants.

"The application process is very competitive," Riley said.

This year's Christie Society and Hoffman Scholars are: Anne Boyce, VMS II, Kenneth Heym, VMS II, Robin N. Hickman, VMS I, Anne M. Knudsen, VMS I, Trent H. Smith, VMS I, Laura Stobie, VMS I, and R. Christopher Van Winkle, VMS I.

Kenneth Heym, who just began his rotation in the adolescent clinic, says that the experience so far has been enlightening.

"It has been an eye-opener. I think kids today must be experiencing different problems than I did when I was a teenager," he says.

He also says the program has given him priceless experience as he begins his third year of medical school.

"Because I have already completed my second year of medical school, the program has given me the opportunity to do the same sort of thing I will be doing during my third year, but in a less stressful environment. I have been able to do examinations and see my own patients," Heym said.

Besides the experience he has gained, Heym said there are many reasons why he is glad that he is participating in the program.

"It is an incredible program. It is fun, and I have also learned so much. The kids are great, but I am also discovering how incredible the pediatrics department is here. The faculty have been wonderful."