Medical students at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) had the chance to hone their skills by performing basic clinical examinations for children at the college’s annual Cornell Stars event.

Faculty and staff brought their children to the WCM-Q Clinical Skills and Simulation Lab so that students could learn how to interact with children and family members and develop the creative skills that paediatricians use to approach children. They also experimented with different techniques to keep the youngsters relaxed, engaged and contented for long enough to conduct a physical examination.

Introduction to Clinical Clerkships, Courses

Cornell StarsThe event forms an important part of the students’ introduction to the WCM-Q clinical clerkships and courses. The students, who are all heading into the third year of the medical curriculum, were tasked with performing a basic physical examination of children in various ages, under the supervision of WCM-Q faculty and doctors from Hamad General, Al Wakra and Sidra hospitals.

The examination involves checking the child’s reflexes, examining their ears and eyes, listening to their heartbeat and breathing using a stethoscope, and assessing whether normal developmental milestones have been reached.

Dr Amal Khidir, associate professor of paediatrics, and organiser of the Cornell Stars programme, said the event is a wonderful opportunity for students to gain some practical experience of working with young children, learning how to approach them and their families, engage them, keep them at ease, use distraction techniques where needed, so that a basic but comprehensive physical exam can be carried out.

We are very grateful to our young volunteers and their parents for being so patient and generous with their time for the benefit of our students.’

Dr Khidir explained that with adults, examinations usually proceed systematically from head to toe, but with children it is an opportunistic but complete examination. The physicians must be prepared to adapt the order, often while the examination is in progress.

Usually, a doctor will start at the heart and lungs of young patients and go on to the abdomen, before examining the ears and finally the nose and throat so as to minimise distress. They need to be flexible to examine the child in the mother’s lap if needed. They also need to use their senses and refine their observation skills to be able to gather the information needed to treat the child. This year, 27 children aged four months to six years took part in Cornell Stars, along with 40 third-year students.

For more information about Cornell Stars, visit