The next generation of doctors currently learning their craft at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) had the chance to develop core physicianship skills when they took online consultations with some of the youngest members of the community.

Medical students at WCM-Q logged in to the event to take part in a series of consultations with children aged two months to six years, under the supervision of qualified paediatricians. The event, which has been held virtually since 2020 owing to physical distancing guidelines, is an important step in the clinical training of the students as they experience for the first time the joy and challenge of engaging with a young patient, putting them at ease, and then conducting a medical examination.

Dr Amal Khidir (top, centre) leads the WCM-Q Cornell Stars event, where medical students practice consultations with children and their parents under the supervision of qualified paediatricians.

Prior to lockdown, the annual Cornell Stars event was a highlight of the WCM-Q calendar, as employees brought their young children to the campus as ‘patients’ for trainee doctors to examine.

As part of lockdown measures, the event transitioned to virtual space, which allowed Cornell Stars to continue. The exercise also provided the students with a realistic simulation of a virtual encounter and interaction, which has emerged as a key competency for physicians during the era of COVID-19.

Dr Amal Khidir, WCM-Q Associate Professor of Pediatrics and lead coordinator of the Cornell Stars event, said that Cornell Stars has evolved and adapted to the current healthcare landscape, allowing them to continue the important work of giving trainee doctors access to patients while also embracing the drive towards telemedicine prompted by the need to maintain physical distancing protocols.

I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to all of our young stars for being so wonderfully patient and helpful. They helped our students boost their skills enormously and were an absolute pleasure to work with. I also would like to thank my doctor colleagues who taught and supervised the students in spite of the event falling on the weekend during Ramadan.

In total, 21 children took part in the event, along with 47 WCM-Q students and 11 faculty. Dr Khidir said that the event was made possible by support from the ITS department and the Office of Curriculum Support, as well as by support from paediatricians from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Sidra Medicine and WCM-Q, who gave their time and experience to the students.

These doctors included:

  • Dr Manasik Hassan, Dr Sohair Elsiddig and Dr Mohammed Qusad (HMC)
  • Dr Madeeha Kamal and Dr Magda Yousef (Sidra Medicine)
  • Dr Nasreen Irfan (HMC)
  • Dr Marcellina Mian (WCM-Q)

Dr Khidir was also pleased to welcome back and give thanks to three WCM-Q alumni: Dr Shereen Darwish, now a general academic paediatric fellow, Dr Aya El-Jerbi, a cardiology fellow, and Dr Saleha Abbasi, Senior Pediatric Resident at HMC.

Student Aliyaa Haji said that being part of this year’s Cornell Stars was a valuable and rewarding learning experience. She said that the event allowed her to understand the importance of physician-patient interaction in a setting that involves children and their parents.

I learned that the way in which we engage with a child determines how comprehensive our consultation and examination can be. The children, alongside their parents, did a great job as teachers!

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