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VIE Poster Session: Supporting Academic Medicine through Good Craftsmanship

Throughout history, Christian academics were renowned for their scientific excellence. For a variety of reasons, “Christian” and “scientist” now seem like contradictory terms to many people.

by Amanda Lucashu, DO, with the National Resident & Fellow Council

Throughout history, Christian academics were renowned for their scientific excellence. For a variety of reasons, “Christian” and “scientist” now seem like contradictory terms to many people. And that’s one of the main reasons CMDA’s National Resident & Fellow Council (NRFC) established the VIE Poster Session, to help break down the secular-religious dichotomy and to prove Christians can excel in academia as we seek to use our knowledge and our skills for God’s glory. It is also important to have a Christian venue in which to discuss research that may be contrary to popular medical opinion. For the last two years, those goals were accomplished at the VIE Poster Session at TRANS-FORM: CMDA’s National Convention, as evidenced by the outstanding research presented during the sessions. The extent of the breadth and depth of these posters was truly outstanding. Like Martin Luther said, God was surely glorified by the craftsmanship that was exhibited at these two poster sessions, and it is our aim that this will continue.

The idea for the VIE Poster Session originated two years ago during a brainstorming session of the NRFC. We were charged with the task of improving student and resident membership in CMDA, and we were specifically considering ways to encourage involvement in the National Convention. The thought was that if CMDA offered a poster session with prizes for the posters that score highest on visual and oral presentation, similar to other academic conferences, then students and residents would more easily be able to request time off to attend the convention, plus their programs might even contribute funding in order for them to present. And with that, VIE was born. The name itself means “life” in French, as well as being an acronym for Vignettes, Initiatives, Innovations and Education. It also shows our recognition of and commitment to stirring godly passions and life throughout CMDA and His kingdom through the presentation of scholarly work. The inaugural VIE Poster Session was held at the 2017 National Convention, with a total of 12posters presented by students, residents, fellows and attendings. The topics varied widely, including human trafficking, international missions, anaphylaxis and neuropathy. The event was a success in multiple ways. First, it satisfied its mission as most of the 12 presenters said they were only able to come to the convention because of the poster session. Secondly, presenters received a total of more than $3,000 from their programs in order to attend. This was an excellent return on the investment of $1,000 that was generously donated for the prize money. Moreover, the VIE Poster Session encouraged interaction between students, residents and attendings, as well as strengthened CMDA’s academic reputation. One conference attendee even described it as the “best new thing at the National Convention!”

With that success under our belt, we set off to recreate the magic in preparation for the second annual VIE Poster Session at the 2018 National Convention. Improvements were made in the format, including a larger venue and the addition of a judging rubric specific for vignette-style research. It all culminated in a total of 26 submissions: two from attendings, five from residents and the remaining from students. On Saturday, April 28, 2018, the second annual VIE Poster Session commenced. A total of 18 posters were judged by 11 judges in our new location in Pritchell Hall, directly across from Spilman Auditorium where everyone had previously been enjoying the morning devotions. Once people arrived, students and residents met them and were ready to answer questions about their research in areas such as ACL repair, STD diagnosis, stress in medical education, ovarian cancer, lupus and more. Other posters featured case reports about myxedema coma, back pain, Moyamoya Disease and opioid addiction. Judges completed the scoring forms for each poster presentation and then met together to determine the winners. Later that evening, leaders of the NRFC and National Student Community (NSC) were joined by two CMDA trustees on stage to announce the winners. First announced were the three winners of the newly created Vignette Category. In first place was Caleb Ba-Mendoza, a student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, for his poster “When You Hear Hooves, Do Not Ignore the Zebra: Malignancy Disguised as Recurrent Pneumonia.” Next was a case report by Christina Grimsley from East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine titled “Tension Pneumothorax Complicated by Massive Subcutaneous Emphysema.” In third place was Nicole Baldwin who was enthusiastically supported by the University of Minnesota Medical School for her work “Re-claiming Identity and Wholeness: A Case of Body Integrity Identity Disorder and Gender Dysphoria.” In the Research Category, Harman Sawhney from St. George’s University took first place with her poster “Correlation of Lyme Disease with Immune Dysfunction.” The competition was fierce, and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine student Josh Ellis was close behind with his work on “Clinical and Ultrasonographic Factors Associated with Cerclage Success for the Treatment of Cervical Insufficiency.” In third place were Hendrix and Victoria Lafontant from Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine for their project “Human Trafficking Education in Medicine.” The third and final category was for residents. The winner was Sarah Hall, DO, a third-year resident at University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria for her vignette, “An Unusual Case of Cryptococcal Meningoencephalitis with Brainstem Strokes in a Patient with Myasthenia Gravis.”

“If it wasn’t for the poster session, I wouldn’t have been able to take the time off from my clinical clerkship to attend the National Convention.”

—Andrew Hanna

The other aim of the poster session was to create an avenue that would allow more students and residents to attend the convention. This year, again, was an outstanding success. One student received $688 from her school; another was allotted $1,000 toward conference costs. Without the poster session, many of the students expressed that they wouldn’t have been able to attend the convention where they were able to see how valuable CMDA, and especially the convention, is for students and healthcare professionals. The participants also found the poster session to be a highly beneficial experience personally and professionally. Harman Sawhney said,

“The communication skills, presentation skills, knowledge base about my particular topic, as well as just the process of making, printing, and transporting my poster to the conference (more difficult than I realized), were all incredibly invaluable lessons I learned through this poster session at the convention. Not to mention, the incredible friends I made at the conference and poster session itself were a huge blessing on their own.”

Student Nicole Baldwin elegantly summed up the sentiments of almost all of the participants by saying,

“Now that I have attended the convention once, I would be more likely though to advocate for myself and others to attend, because I realize how valuable it is to connect with the Christian medical community and gain a clearer vision for my walk with the Lord in medicine.”

Another student said,

“You never know what you’re missing until you try it—and I was definitely missing out! Wish I had started attending in my first year of medical school…but it’s never too late. I hope and pray that I can have the time and financial resources to attend the CMDA Convention every year from now on if possible.”

The VIE Poster Session is already making an impact on students and residents, and we encourage you to start preparing now for the 2019 VIE Poster Session. Abstracts will be accepted until November 30, 2018, and we are looking for research or vignettes on a variety of topics including spirituality, ethics, education, biology, medicine, surgery, dentistry and medical humanities. Even if you do not have research to share yourself, please share this information with others, especially students and residents, and encourage them to apply and request funding from their programs. For those presenting a poster at CMDA’s National Convention, the convention registration fees are waived for students and reduced for residents and fellows. Also, as we anticipate even more posters this coming year, we are searching for additional judges who have experience in research and academics. We plan to assign judges to posters within the same field of expertise. For more information about presenting or judging, please visit

AMANDA LUCASHU, DO, recently graduated from In His Image Family Medicine Residency in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Houghton College and then completed medical school at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City. While there she served as the CMDA chapter president and also became involved in National Student Council leadership, serving as Secretary followed by two terms as President. Amanda then went on to serve as Resident Representative on CMDA’s House of Representatives and then Resident Trustee to CMDA’s Board of Trustees. She is continuing to assist the NRFC while she prepares for serving in the mission field of Japan.

This Feature Story Appears in:

Fall 2018 Edition of Today’s Christian Doctor