Gallery of Scholarship showcases medical students’ discovery and innovation

University of South Florida senior medical student Kenzo Koike’s capstone project was a reflection of the nine months he spent in Peru — learning about the healthcare system, conducting clinical rotations in resource-limited settings, and immersing himself in the foreign country’s culture. 

Koike, 29, was among the graduating medical students whose Scholarly Concentrations Program (SCP) capstone projects were showcased May 9 at the 2nd Annual Gallery of Scholarship.   A record number of students — 65 – graduated from the Morsani College of Medicine last week with a scholarly concentration distinction. 

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Kenzo Koike, graduating USF medical student, created an award-winning capstone project for his Scholarly Concentration program — a 9-month medical and cultural experience in Peru.

 Their capstone projects spanned a diversity of scholarly inquiry:  Research on the potential connection between quality of preconception health care and prevention of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality; a screenplay about a man diagnosed with schizophrenia and Capgras syndrome; the introduction of an interdisciplinary diabetes self-management education program at the BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic, to name just a few.

Since the SCP began six years ago, it has continued to grow – with nearly 80 percent of the college’s students participating in one of 10 faculty-mentored scholarly concentrations of special interest such as health disparities, innovation, entrepreneurship and business in medicine, health systems engineering, and public health.

“Some students have chosen the Morsani College of Medicine because of the opportunity to participate in scholarly and creative endeavors offered through our Scholarly Concentrations Program,” said SCP Director Susan Pross, PhD.  “Based upon their experiences in the program, some have even decided to pursue PhDs, or a master’s degree in public health, in addition to their medical education.”

Koike was the 2013 winner of program’s Thomas & Elizabeth Flannery/William & Mary Tibbetts Scholarly Award, a competitive $1,000 prize bestowed by Dr. Michael Flannery, professor of medicine, in honor of his maternal and paternal grandparents.

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Dr. William Spellacy listens to a student describe her SCP capstone project.

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Michelle Heck completed scholarly concentrations in both International Medicine and Medical Humanities.

He started planning and designing the curriculum for a long-term international medical experience in Cuzco, Peru shortly after selecting his scholarly concentration in international medicine as a first-year medical student.  His goal was to prepare for a career in medicine that includes working abroad and developing sustainable models of health care and health education.

Between his third and fourth year of medical school, Koike spent nine months in Cuzco, Peru, volunteering through an organization called Doctors for Global Health.  He encountered diagnoses and conditions not typically seen in the United States, from cutaneous tuberculosis and the rare parasitic disease leishmaniasis to an abdominal wound caused by a bull’s horn.  He went on rounds in public hospitals, helped deliver babies as an obstetrical intern in a labor and delivery clinic, and worked at a small American-operated women’s clinic offering pap smear screenings for cervical cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in Peruvian women.  With limited access to sophisticated imaging equipment and laboratory tests, particularly in rural areas, he also learned to rely on fundamental clinical skills and judgment.

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Dr. Alicia Monroe, vice dean of Educational Affairs for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, speaks with Kenzo Koike’s father.

Koike traveled to Cuzco with his wife Janie, a graduate student in USF’s Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program who worked at a domestic violence shelter while in Peru. They lived with a host family and interacted with the local community to immerse themselves in the local language and culture.

After finishing his residency in ophthalmology at Medical University of South Carolina and beginning his career as an MD in the United States, Koike said he hopes to return periodically to Peru. He envisions setting up an ophthalmology clinic that would provide much-needed cataract surgeries and other eye procedures.

“I want to help educate local physicians so they are empowered to take care of their own patients and their community,” he said.

In a blog, Koike chronicled his 9-month journey to explore global health in Cuzco, Peru, for other health professions students considering study abroad. To read more about his experiences and reflections, go to www.peru-zo.com.

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Koike with staff from the Scholarly Concentrations Program, from left to right, Roberta Collins, academic service administrator for special projects; Susan Pross, PhD, director; and Ingrid Bahner, PhD, associate director.

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Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communciations