(BRYAN, TX) — More than forty Texas A&M Health Science Center (HSC) College of Medicine first- and second-year students participated in the first student-organized clinical round on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at St. Joseph Rehabilitation Center in Bryan. The students were led by Kelly Lobb, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine, Carmen Ramirez, M.D., Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, and Dr. John Gelderd, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics.

Organized by first-year medical student Giulia Ippolito and fourth-year medical student Drew Weiner, the clinical round offered students the chance to evaluate and diagnose a live patient and tour the St. Joseph Rehabilitation Center.

“This is really the first time that our students, especially our first-year students, have initiated a clinical round like this,” said Dr. Paul Ogden, Associate Dean of Educational Program Development.  “They identified a way to supplement their classroom education, and they actively sought a solution in the clinical setting.  Without a doubt, our students have proven that they are committed to their own medical education.”
After a tour of the facility, the students met a patient and were given different scenarios to test, including tumor symptoms and how to differentiate between a stroke and Bell’s palsy. 

Throughout the scenarios, Dr. Ramirez provided the students with simple techniques on how to evaluate a patient with neurological symptoms.

“When first meeting a patient, don’t focus on eloquence,” she said. “You must observe. Take note of even the slightest abnormalities and changes. The patient’s success in long-term treatment will depend on how well you initially observe and interact with them.”

For most students, this was their first interaction with a live patient and their first time connecting a treatment to specific symptoms.

Dr. Ramirez explained, “Even if they continue on as primary care doctors, the students will need to be comfortable and competent with neurology patients.”

“As more neurologists go into private practice, the hospitals’ primary care doctors need to be able to recognize neurological symptoms so that they can liaise with neurologists,” Dr. Ramirez continued. “This is why it is so important and extraordinary that our students have taken it upon themselves to learn this now in their medical education.”

Dr. Gelderd thoroughly quizzed the students, charging them to put their classroom knowledge into practice with the patient.

“As first-year medical students, we’ve never actually been with a real patient in this type of environment,” said Ippolito. “Being in the classroom, you can forget why you’re here, but being here with a patient refreshes our sense of purpose.”

— Dhwani Chauhan