October 21, 2021

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

PEARLS nominees this quarter include, at top from left, Candace Acuff, Geoffrey Ginter, Mugdha Joshi and Leya Maliekal, and at bottom from left, Arif Musa, Cedric Mutebi and Sara Saymuah.

In the latest 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, seven students have earned kudos for acts of professionalism above and beyond the typical.

Candace Acuff, Geoffrey Ginter, Mugdha Joshi, Leya Maliekal, Arif Musa, Cedric Mutebi and Sara Saymuah were named this quarter’s Professional, Empathetic, Accountable, Respectful, Leadership and Stewardship, or PEARLS, a program intended to recognize students who exhibit exemplary professional behavior. The program launched a year ago.

Acuff was nominated by Jason Papaconstandinou, M.D., a Psychiatry resident on Acuff’s rotation.

“During patient rounds, a patient that was not under our service was calling out for help from another room. Too often we assume someone else is addressing the patient’s need – a tech, a nurse, their primary team or other, and we continue our rounds,” he said. “However, this student took it upon herself with one of her colleagues to go and check on the patient, who had fallen to the floor, was in great distress, and no one else was paying attention or doing anything about it. Candace served as a reminder to us – we are there to provide compassionate care to all and not just to the patients that are on our list. We are called to serve, so how can we ignore such a literal call for help? She did not wait to be told to go, she simply went and did what needed to be done.”

“It’s such an honor to be able to serve in this capacity, and I am extremely grateful to be recognized as a medical student who prioritizes professionalism in addition to my clinical duties. I look forward to continuing to do the work with each principal of the PEARLS program in mind,” Acuff said.

Geoffrey Ginter was nominated by resident Paul Nguyen, M.D. “Student Doctor Ginter from day one showed the utmost respect and was extremely professional. As a third-year year medical student, he took ownership of his patients and displayed diligence, compassion, enthusiasm and was a team player,” Dr. Nguyen said.

Like Acuff and Ginter, Joshi was also nominated by a resident, who recognized the way she handled an issue that occurred while she was off rotation.

“She approached the issue in a very professional manner. I believe Mugdha did the right thing in a very open, honest and professional way,” Mohammad Al Zoubi, M.D., said.

“I'm honored to have been nominated,” Joshi said.

Maliekal was nominated by Academic and Student Programs Manager Erika Roberts for her time and courage to speak to a group of faculty and staff in June about her experiences in the pre-clerkship curriculum.

“Her presentation was thoughtful and comprehensive, and focused on how best to support students in that phase. The group was impressed with her suggestions. Her vulnerability is something to be admired and will help the curriculum team change for the better,” Roberts said.

“Sharing my academic journey openly and vulnerably with our school administration was empowering. I am grateful to the WSUSOM administration for their willingness to kindly listen to and learn from my experiences, and I hope that my sharing benefits future students,” Maliekal said.

Arif Musa was nominated by Maysoon Al-Hihi, M.D., for developing in his third year of medical school a research project to address the issue of increasing representation of minority and female residents in diagnostic radiology.

“He recruited a diverse team of diagnostic radiologists, residents and medical students to support him in conducting the study, which included me as the associate program director of the Diagnostic Radiology Program at the Detroit Medical Center,” Dr. Al-Hihi said. “The goal of the project was to identify which strategies were used by program directors to increase diversity in their radiology residency programs. Arif obtained Institutional Review Board approval, wrote the questionnaire that would be distributed to program directors and submitted the survey electronically. He monitored data collection and conducted the statistical analysis as well, all during his core clerkships.”

He is the principal investigator for the project and the lead author for the manuscript. Musa, now a fourth-year student, is applying for Diagnostic Radiology residencies.

“It is my honor to be recognized by the medical school for my study of increasing diversity in the specialties of diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology and radiation oncology. My mentor has spearheaded efforts at the Detroit Medical Center to increase the numbers of Black and female residents and those that are under-represented in radiology. I could therefore think of no better mentor than Dr. Al-Hihi to advise my research,” Musa said. “By recruiting a diverse group of co-authors from different levels of training, I hoped to develop a study that incorporated the perspectives of several groups, including those that were under-represented in radiology. I am proud to be part of an institution such as Wayne State University that is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and responsive to the changing needs of a diverse society.”

Mutebi was nominated by Curriculum Specialist Sonal Patel for his role as a dedicated collaborator in a social accountability initiative organized by the school.

“He has worked after hours to collaborate on a challenging proposal, engaged in deep thinking about the process and outcomes of the work, and done it all with a positive attitude and a smile on his face,” Patel said.

“I am very grateful and honored to have been nominated for this recognition. I am just one of the many students who have taken up this charge for a curriculum and learning environment centered around the principles of justice,” Mutebi said.

Patel also nominated Saymuah for the award, for leading several initiatives to organize the efforts of the new board, including setting up a shared folder on OneDrive for the board to store and share documents, recording meeting minutes for the first few meetings, and guiding other board members to analyze, document and organize data for selecting new learning coaches.

“She has been a natural leader in the newly organized Peer Support Advisory Board,” Patel said. “She makes valuable contributions to all of our brainstorms, and the board wouldn't be the same without her.”

"I am thrilled to be recognized among the other PEARLS nominees. As a medical student at WSUSOM, I have the privilege of meeting and learning from exceptional faculty, staff and peers daily. I am fortunate to be surrounded by such encouraging colleagues who make it easy to develop my skills as a professional and leader. The PEARLS nomination reinforces that I am doing the right things in the right place: growing, learning and continuing to create an environment of support and encouragement for all my colleagues, faculty and patients,” Saymuah said.

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