For Maribeth Morral, a third-year medical student at Penn State College of Medicine in State College, Pa., and ACR Research and Education Foundation (REF) Preceptorship winner, her first exposure to rheumatology was the product of a chance encounter. In the first year of medical school at Penn State, students are assigned to track a chronically ill patient throughout the year as a learning experience. Morral’s patient happened to be an 11-year-old girl diagnosed with juvenile RA.
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Explore This IssueNovember 2006
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What started out as a chance encounter soon turned into an enriching summer experience and a possible career.
Call for Applications
The ACR REF/Abbott Medical Student Clinical Preceptorship, part of the REF awards portfolio, is designed specifically for students who are between the first and second year of medical school to introduce these students to the specialty of rheumatology by supporting a full-time, three-month clinical experience. Both preceptors and students may apply.
Applications for 2007 preceptorships are due in February. For more information, contact REF at (404) 633-3777 or [email protected]. Funding for this award is made possible through the Abbott Endowment for Rheumatology Development.
“Before I was matched with my patient during that first year, I hadn’t really given much thought to rheumatic diseases, and I didn’t know all that much about them. I didn’t really even realize that young children could develop arthritis,” explains Morral. “After spending the year meeting with my patient and her family, I was struck by how great an impact this chronic disease can have on those who have to deal with it and I started to develop an interest in pediatric rheumatology. I knew I wanted to learn more.”
With her interest sparked, Morral set her sights on a summer research project in the area of pediatric rheumatology. She connected with Barbara E. Ostrov, MD, a pediatric and adult rheumatologist, who agreed to let Morral participate in Dr. Ostrov’s clinical research project—a study exploring the risk factors leading to pseudoporphyria, a condition that can cause chicken pox–like scars on the body and is linked to NSAID therapy in young patients.
While Morral was working on the research project, Dr. Ostrov—a longtime mentor familiar with the REF Preceptorship program—encouraged her to consider the ACR REF/Abbott Medical Student Clinical Preceptorship.
“Even though it would mean a really busy summer for me, the timing was perfect,” recalls Morral. “Dr. Ostrov’s research project was clinical. The preceptorship experience would be clinical, and more importantly, Dr. Ostrov would be my preceptor. I already enjoyed working with her and knew she had a lot to teach me. Plus, this would be the perfect crash course in rheumatology, still affording me an opportunity to explore other specialties and subspecialties during future summers.”