May 28, 2021

Five medical students are ‘PEARLS’ at the School of Medicine

In the second round of a quarterly reward program launched by the Wayne State University School of Medicine to recognize outstanding efforts displayed in all four medical classes, a quintet of students has earned major kudos for acts of professionalism that went above and beyond the typical.

Victoria Badia (Class of 2023), May Chammaa (Class of 2022), Cullen Hudson (Class of 2024), Mirna Kaafarani (Class of 2024) and Michelle Malik (Class of 2023) were named Professional, Empathetic, Accountable, Respectful, Leadership and Stewardship, or PEARLS, a program intended to recognize students who exhibit exemplary professional behavior.

"I am excited about receiving this recognition. I think it is important that we provide positive feedback to members of the WSUSOM community and I am grateful to be a recipient," Badia said.

Victoria Badia

She was nominated by Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education Senthil Rajasekaran, M.D., for her fast response when a last-minute shipment of COVID-19 vaccines were made available to the Campus Health Center. The medical school had a day to collect contact information for students not yet vaccinated. “I contacted Victoria and within the same evening she set up a communication strategy and survey tool to collect the student information,” Dr. Rajasekaran said. “Within 24 hours we were able to collect the contact information of more than 95 students who were yet to be vaccinated. She went above and beyond to respond to this time-sensitive request and get her fellow classmates vaccinated in time for their third-year clinical rotations.”

May Chammaa

Chammaa was nominated by Associate Professor and Internal Medicine Clerkship Director Diane Levine, M.D.  for informing her and the Institutional Review Board about a research recruitment interaction between a faculty and student that violated confidentiality. “She advocated for students and then went the extra mile to deliver an educational session for third-year students during orientation to discuss consent and vulnerable populations. Her willingness to speak up is highly professional. She is a role model for professionalism and advocacy,” Dr. Levine said.

The student considers the recognition an honor. “I feel very grateful and humbled to be among my peers who embody admirable professionalism,” she said.

Cullen Hudson

Hudson, who is vice president of the Executive Student Senate, was nominated by Dr. Rajasekaran for stepping up on more than one occasion to demonstrate leadership and engagement with the administration and fellow students. This included setting up a mechanism for collecting vaccination status-related information from classmates and contacting those who needed to schedule theirs, and assisting with distributing the first aid textbooks to classmates.

“I am extremely grateful for this recognition, with massive thanks to my family, amazing friends and those who have supported me throughout my first year of medical school. Aiming to ensure the Class of 2024’s success during this difficult time has been a consistent goal of mine since the beginning. With that, I am extremely optimistic about our future here,” Hudson said.

Dr. Rajasekaran also nominated Kaafarani for her efforts in the same realm as Hudson.

Mirna Kaafarani

As a member of the medical school’s Executive Senate and president of the Board of Student Organizations, she represented the student body in critical COVID-19 planning meetings, and has been prompt in responding to the school’s request for relevant information, he said.

“The School of Medicine administration has put a great deal of effort in to ensure that my class was kept safe during the pandemic while also upholding the standard of medical education that this school is known for. The fact that they think I contributed to this initiative in my role on Senate makes me glad and proud,” Kaafarani said.

In particular, Dr. Rajasekaran noted, when electronic versions of first aid textbooks were considered to avoid pandemic-related health and safety risks for her fellow classmates, she reached out to students about this possibility and found that most wanted a hard copy instead. “Thanks to her timely and professional approach, the school did not spend resources on something students did not find value. Along with others in the elected leadership roles, she also agreed to volunteer to distribute the books to her classmates,” he said.

Michelle Malik

Malik was nominated twice for the PEARLS award, by second-year medical resident Zain Fatiwala, M.D., and by Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine Rasa Laucius, M.D., each noting her positive and professional demeaner throughout her rotation and excellence in obtaining medical history and performing physical exams for hospitalized Internal Medicine patients.

“She skillfully formulated and participated in treatment plans. When patients were not able to provide much information on the day of admission due to being very sick, she would get additional information and organize it the next day when they would feel better or she would get collateral information from family or staff,” Dr. Laucius said. “She kindly interviewed patients by listening to what they are going through and was responding gently to their emotions. She was contributing much in managing patients with multi-morbidities, listening to them about what life was prior to hospitalization and what they think will happen to them next with great compassion, looking for ways to alleviate their suffering. I noticed her pain management skills and her thoroughness in assessing every detail about pain.”

Through partnership with faculty, students and staff, the team behind undergraduate medical education at the School of Medicine designed the tiered reward program that provides incentives to individuals who exhibit the professional attributes of a Warrior M.D. through action that goes beyond the expectations set forth for all students.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to submit reports of exemplary professional behavior through Maxient, a new university portal used to capture both positive and negative behaviors.

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