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Nine rising fourth-year students at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently participated in the research and case presentation poster competition at the 2017 American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Southeastern Chapter Educational Conference in Destin, Fla.
At the conference, Tory Saunders, Greg Van Wagner and Blair Gaines received second place for their poster presentation titled “I Can’t Feel My Arm.”
“USA’s group was the only student group to compete against emergency medicine residents from established emergency medicine programs in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida,” said Dr. Michael Sternberg, professor of emergency medicine at the USA College of Medicine. “Although we have won several awards in the past, this year one of our student groups received a top award in the case presentation category."
Overall the group was praised for their efforts and knowledge by the national ACEP faculty, emergency medicine chairs and residency program directors from across the country.”
The poster focused on moyamoya disease, a vascular disease that affects blood vessel development in the brain. “The research was an interesting case presentation that we wanted to present to other students and emergency medicine physicians to show that a common chief complaint can lead to an unlikely diagnosis,” Van Wagner said. “On imaging, the disease looks like a ‘puff of smoke,’ which is actually the English translation for moyamoya.”
Saunders said the symptoms presented by moyamoya disease are often similar to a stroke. “Knowing these subtle differences can help guide therapy and allow for better patient care,” he said. “I now have an in-depth understanding of the pathophysiology that I will not forget, and I also learned about numerous treatment options that I never knew existed.”
Van Wagner said it is beneficial for medical students to participate in research opportunities or share interesting case presentations to educate others and add more information to the ever-growing body of medical knowledge. “Another big advantage to doing a presentation is to meet other faculty members at other institutions, which allows you to network and learn some tips and tricks regarding your specialty of interest,” he said. “Try to find an interesting topic that you are passionate about. Not only does this make the experience much more enjoyable for yourself, but your audience also will greatly benefit from your enthusiasm.”
“It is also important for students to take advantage of research opportunities in medical school because we will be attending conferences throughout our careers, and the experience you gain can greatly benefit you down the road,” Gains added.
“This was our first time presenting at a conference and I think we all had a great time,” Saunders said. “Initially, we were nervous because we did not know what to expect. All in all, it was great getting to meet students and program directors from different universities who were eager to hear about our case and share our excitement for emergency medicine.”
According to Dr. Sternberg, emergency medicine has become an increasingly popular career choice for medical student graduates at the USA College of Medicine. “In 2017, eight medical students acquired emergency medicine residency positions throughout the country, in part due to their involvement with ACEP and similar activities,” he said.
To learn more about ACEP, click here.
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