Some of the youngest members of the community gave Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) students a helping hand to develop key physicianship skills in the latest installment of the annual Cornell Stars event.

WCM-QHeld online for the second year due to COVID-19 physical distancing protocols, the Cornell Stars event gives the trainee doctors in the third year of the medical program at WCM-Q the opportunity to conduct medical encounters with young children, under the supervision of qualified and experienced pediatricians.

Before the pandemic, the event was one of the highlights of the academic calendar, with faculty and staff at the college bringing their young children to help the students learn how to address, engage, interact, and examine children. Now, under lockdown conditions, the event provides a valuable chance for the students to practice virtual consultations conducted via video conferencing platforms that have become commonplace during the pandemic.

Dr Amal Khidir, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Vice-Chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at WCM-Q, said that the Cornell Stars event had evolved to take account of the lockdown measures and in so doing was giving students an early introduction to telemedicine. Dr Khidir said

Cornell Stars is always such a rich learning experience for the students and that continues to be the case now that we have had to switch to virtual consultations. It seems very likely that telemedicine will continue to be used even after the pandemic, so it is really important for students to have the chance to experiment with and learn some skills required to conduct successful virtual consultation. I would like to thank the children very much – they teach the students so much that we think of them as little professors. I would also like to thank their parents, my colleagues at WCM-Q and Hamad Medical Corporation, and the students, for once again making Cornell Stars a wonderfully successful event.

In total, 18 children took part in the event, along with 40 WCM-Q students and seven faculty. Dr Khidir said that the event was made possible by support from WCM-Q’s ITS department and Office of Curriculum Support, as well as the pediatricians who gave their time and experience to the students. These included Drs Manasik Hassan, Shabina Khan, Samar Osman and Nada Shurrub of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Dr Marcellina Mian, Professor Emerita of Pediatrics and former Associate Dean of Medical Education at WCM-Q. Dr Khidir was also pleased to welcome back and give thanks for their assistance at the event to two WCM-Q alumni, Dr Moza Al-Sulaiti, now Pediatric Chief Resident at HMC, and Dr Shereen Darwish, now General Academic Pediatric Fellow at HMC. Dr Mian said

This was an excellent opportunity in this new world of virtual interaction and learning, to have students be exposed to children of different ages, to engage with them and experience the richness of what children have to offer at different developmental stages.  The children themselves were delightful, cooperative and very entertaining.

Class of 2023 student Reem Chamseddine shared that she had been looking forward to participating in Cornell Stars since her first year.

Although virtual, the event lived up to my expectations and gave me the opportunity to engage with the children in a small, comfortable setting. The children opened up and shared many fun and interesting stories. Spending time with them helped me appreciate the great responsibility entrusted to us by the families and parents of pediatric patients.

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