Master Clinical Teachers
Meet Our MCTs
Raeanna Adams, MD – Surgery
Turn your textbook knowledge of the abdominal exam into practiced competence with expert surgeon Dr. Adams. Dr. Adams will train you to enter patient encounters with a detective’s eye for clues: what pieces of information and follow-up questions do you need in order to make a differential diagnosis?
Rachel Apple, MD, MPH – Internal Medicine
A VUSM ‘12 alumna, Dr. Apple brings dual expertise in internal medicine and pediatrics. She’ll teach you to use all five senses to take in context clues as soon as you enter the patient’s room. Learn to recognize key sights, sounds, and smells that will help you on your way to a differential diagnosis— even before you begin the history exam.
Christina Cain, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology
Dr. Cain sees medical students as the mortar that holds the whole structure of patient care together in a teaching hospital, so your growth is her number one priority. Under her expert direction, your hands-on clinical skills will continue evolving towards excellence.
Kaylin Smith Craig, MD – Internal Medicine
An experienced internist, Dr. Craig spends most of her time in direct contact with patients— which means she has a lot of wisdom to share with you about building doctor-patient rapport. How can you harmonize body language, word choice, and bedside manner to better serve your patients? Dr. Craig will teach you that, and so much more.
Travis Crook, MD – Pediatrics
Dr. Crook’s top priority for MCT sessions is developing your clinical reasoning skills— learning the “why” behind each clinical decision and diagnosis. As a pediatric specialist, Dr. Crook stresses sensitivity and empathy for each patient. While the details of a particular case are transient, the practical takeaways you’ll learn from him about bedside manner will stay with you forever.
Steven Eskind, MD – Surgery
For Dr. Eskind, the goal of an MCT session is not that you achieve a perfect diagnosis, but rather that you develop a rational thought process through the history and physical exams. With his direction, you’ll learn to generate a coherent line of questions and anticipate pertinent physical findings.
Michael Fowler, MD – Medicine/Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism
Meet the director of the MCT program, Dr. Michael Fowler. An expert in endocrinology and diabetes, Dr. Fowler understands MCT as a continuation of Vanderbilt’s emphasis on individualized care. Just as we personalize medical care to each patient, so too we personalize medical education to each student— to your strengths and weaknesses in a particular rotation, as well as to your overall medical goals.
Cathy Fuchs, MD – Psychiatry
Dr. Fuchs (VUSM ‘82) is an expert in Psychiatry. As a consultation liaison psychiatrist, she focuses on the intersection between psychiatric and medical disorders. She will guide you through the mental status exam as a tool for assessment in all specialties of clinical work. Under her direction, you’ll grow in your observational skills and your understanding of both verbal and non-verbal communication patterns.
Martin Gallagher, MD, PhD – Neurology
In the epilepsy clinic with Dr. Gallagher, you’ll be seeing patients who aren’t currently presenting symptoms, so the history exam will be your most effective tool for differentiating one condition from another. Dr. Gallagher’s physician-scientist background brings new meaning to the term “differential diagnosis,” as you collaborate to identify the hypothesis that best fits the available data.
Andrew Giritharan, MD – Neurology
As an MCT, Dr. Giritharan draws on his own strong experiences of mentorship during med school— which ultimately helped him choose neurology as his specialty. His neurological expertise and longstanding interest in medical education both ensure that you’ll walk out of MCT sessions with new skills to put into practice. The neurological exam can seem like (as Dr Giritharan puts it) a mysterious black box, but with his help you’ll soon learn how to use this powerful diagnostic tool to better understand and diagnose a wide variety of movement disorders.
Merranda Holmes, MD – Pediatrics and Internal Medicine
Drawing on her experience studying adverse childhood experiences and working with vulnerable populations, Dr. Holmes will help you grasp the importance of psychosocial barriers in helping patients achieve and maintain their desired health outcomes. What’s more, you’ll learn to think on your feet and adapt your differential diagnosis when a clinical case is not going quite as you expect.
Mary Hooks, MD, MBA – General Surgery
Turn the history and physical exam into an opportunity to really hear your patient’s story. Dr. Hooks weaves compassionate practice with acute analysis— a skill she developed during her MBA training. By the end of your surgery rotation, you’ll have learned to distill a wave of information into the key takeaways you need to make an informed treatment plan.
Dena Ibrahim, MD – Pediatrics
Dr. Ibrahim understands that children can be some of the most intimidating patients to treat— especially when they’re in pain or distress. Her MCT sessions model excellent provider-patient interaction, from toddlers all the way up to teenagers. With her guidance, you’ll also learn to synthesize information from a patient’s family to complete the most rigorous history exam possible.
Diana Metropulos, MD – Pediatrics
MCT sessions with Dr. Metropulos hone your communication skills with outpatient pediatric patients and their families. Since young children may struggle to verbalize their symptoms, you’ll learn tips and techniques to conduct a pediatric exam that gather all the information you need, while still helping the child feel comfortable and heard.
Charles Rush, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology
No matter how anxious you feel about working with patients, Dr. Rush’s encouraging teaching style will make you feel right at home. Together, you’ll work on critical listening skills, so you can go beyond the patient’s spoken words to understand how they’re really feeling.
Matthew Schrag, MD, PhD – Neurology
Dr. Schrag will help you develop mastery of the neurological exam— a powerful tool that doesn’t cost anything to perform but can yield results comparable to brain scans. Since neurological patients may struggle to communicate effectively, you’ll also work on gathering the patient’s story in unusual circumstances.
Kurt Smith, MD – Emergency Medicine
You’ve mastered the medical jargon; now learn from Dr. Smith how to translate clearly and concisely back to the patient in crisis situations. Dr. Smith’s student-centered teaching style will help you identify your own strengths and weaknesses, both as a clinician and as a communicator.
W. Anderson Spickard III, MD, MS, FACP – Internal Medicine
After directing the Core Medicine Clerkship for more than 15 years and playing an instrumental role in crafting Curriculum 2.0, Dr. Spickard knows the 25 Presenting Problems inside and out. In MCT sessions with Dr. Spickard, you’ll move from being a good data reporter to being an excellent problem-solver.
Eli Zimmerman, MD – Neurology
By the time you enter clinic, you’ll definitely recognize Dr. Zimmerman: this expert educator teaches every single M1 and M2 student each year! In one-on-one MCT sessions, he’ll guide you in reacting to unexpected clinical situations with flexibility and compassion.