April 22, 2005

VUSM students create dynamic Web portal

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Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students Tristan Gorrindo, left, and Ben Rosenbaum have toiled to create a new Web site dedicated to providing information to VUSM students and medical teaching faculty.
photo by Dana Johnson

VUSM students create dynamic Web portal

Two Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students have worked long and hard to make life a little easier for their classmates — at least when it comes to navigating the Web.

Fourth-year student Tristan Gorrindo and first-year student Ben Rosenbaum spent hundreds of hours creating the new VMS portal, a Web page for students and medical teaching faculty that serves as a base of operations for their daily online needs.

“We wanted to pull together a lot of resources that were out there and build one-stop shopping for grades, course evaluations, phone lists, course Web sites and several other things,” said Gorrindo. “But we didn't want long lists of links for students, we wanted the portal to be 'smart.' So in building an interface with the School of Medicine's Registrar's Office, we were able to customize the portal to each student.”

The VMS portal has a number of secure, dynamic and personalized features available to users once they log in. From the current temperature to contact information for fellow students, the portal makes available information that students and faculty can use on a daily basis.

“It serves as a hub for all of the computer resources that medical students use. It pulls together all the information in a simple, customized fashion,” Rosenbaum said.

“Tristan and Ben deserve a standing ovation for what they have done with the medical school portal,” said Scott Rodgers, M.D., assistant dean for Medical Student Affairs. “They carefully considered the needs of the students at every stage of this project and the result has been the creation of an incredibly useful online tool for students. I expect the portal to become a daily resource for our medical students.”

Despite the demands of medical school, Gorrindo and Rosenbaum managed to work on the site at night and on weekends, and found it a good break from studying.

“In the same way that a lot of my classmates have taken up knitting or guitar during med school, I've found that it's calming to work on a project that provides you with a tangible product at the end of a night's work,” Gorrindo said.

“I've always loved working with computers. Before coming to med school, I learned about programming while working as a biodemographer. Moving to programming for Websites and building databases was a natural extension of those skills.”

Rosenbaum picked up his computer skills in response to the Web's proliferation in society, and learned more over the years.

“The algorithmic and intuitive nature of programming makes for an interesting challenge that parallels a lot of math I have studied. Most math theory becomes less practical as you progress,” Rosenbaum said.

“Programming is a way to keep focused on the practicality and useful algorithms. Not to mention it's instant gratification — either it works or it doesn't.”

Students and faculty can log in to the VMS Portal at http://portal.mc.vanderbilt.edu.