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Cornell Stars help trainee doctors learn new skills at Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar

All the examinations were overseen by experienced doctors from WCM-Q, Hamad Medical Corporation or Sidra Medical and Research Center.
All the examinations were overseen by experienced doctors from WCM-Q, Hamad Medical Corporation or Sidra Medical and Research Center.

In the latest phase of their training, students at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q) had to deal with the world’s most interesting and unpredictable patients – young children.

The medical students, who are all in the third year of the medical curriculum, attended the clinical orientation week - which incorporates the annual Cornell Stars event - to prepare them to start their full-time clinical courses (clerkships). This involves faculty and staff members at WCM-Q bringing in their own children so that the medical students can learn the best techniques for examining children in a clinical setting.

The Cornell Stars event brings together faculty, staff, students and their families.

The event offers students experience of interacting and examining babies, toddlers and children up to the age of seven. The examinations are all held in WCM-Q’s Clinical Skills and Simulation Lab, which features a number of realistic mock clinics.

Dr. Amal Khidir, associate professor of pediatrics, and organizer of the Cornell Stars program, said the annual event is a valuable learning opportunity for the students, demonstrating that children and adults make for very different patients and encounters. For example, examining a child may involve encouragement from the physician, help from the parent, but also a willingness to be opportunistic and flexible on the part of the doctor.

Dr. Khidir said: “We are trying to give our students the chance to experience what it is genuinely like to engage a child and perform a basic physical examination of a child, but also to pass on hints and tips that may help with that examination. For example, we show the students how to keep the children calm, maybe let the children listen to their own hearts through the stethoscope, and generally build up a rapport with them. We want them to learn how to negotiate, communicate and be creative in engaging the children and their care-giver in a relaxed environment.”

The examinations were all overseen by experienced doctors from WCM-Q, Hamad Medical Corporation and Sidra Medical and Research Center, who passed on their years of experience in pediatrics.

Dr. Stella Major, associate professor of family medicine in clinical medicine, demonstrates the best technique for examining a child’s ears.

Dr. Khidir said that without the invaluable support of Dr. Stella Major, Dr. Madeeha Kamal, Dr. Mehdi Adeli, Dr. Sharda Udassi, Dr. Manasik Hassan, Dr. Suzan Gamel, Dr. Ahmed Eltayeb, Dr. Mohamed Elkalaf, and Dr. Marva Yahya, the Cornell Stars event would not be as successful as it is. She also thanked the members of faculty and staff who brought their children in for the event, and, of course, she thanked the children themselves.

For Class of 2021 student Rozaleen Aleyadeh it was a useful learning experience.

“The kids were so cute,” she said. “They were really, really nice and obviously this won’t be exactly how it is in the hospital, but it was very good practice. The doctors were really helpful and showed us how to interact with the children depending on their age. We’ve also been talking to the parents and it was really useful to know how to deal with them as well as it’s not just about the children.”

Fellow student Sherif Mostafa said it was nerve-wracking at first.

He said: “I was definitely scared of the kids. They are like tiny creatures, but the examinations were easy to navigate as these children were healthy, although I don’t know how it will be with kids who are sick. The physical examination was easier than I thought but it’s mostly about observation and although it’s obvious, I didn’t realize it until now as the children can’t tell you anything.”