By Wendy Sarubbi | April 13, 2015 11:51 am

A resident at the UCF College of Medicine’s new Internal Medicine residency program won the “Top Oral Presentation” Award during the March 28 meeting of the American College of Physician’s Florida Chapter. Dr. James Mellone (above right) presented “Late Presentation of Symptomatic Anomalous Left Main Coronary Artery,” a summary of his 63-year-old patient’s rare presentation of a heart condition that usually causes sudden death in young athletes.

Christin GiordanoAt the same conference, UCF medical student Christin Giordano (at left) won first place for her poster “Study Approaches for USMLE Step 1: Analysis and a Predictive Model” that investigated what variables – including time spent studying and grade point average – are relevant to how well students score on the USMLE Step 1 exam.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) is a national organization of internal medicine specialists. The Florida chapter represents over 6,700 internists across the state.

“I am very proud of our residents and our student,” said Dr. Abdo Asmar (above center), an award-winning College of Medicine teacher who leads UCF’s year-old residency program. “We are one of the newest residency programs in the state and we represented ourselves very well. We showed our spirit of discovery and our passion for learning and teaching.”

The residency program is a partnership with the Orlando VA Medical Center and Osceola Regional Medical Center. UCF’s second cohort of 16 residents will begin training in July.

Dr. Mellone’s patient arrived at Osceola Regional last year with chest pain and an irregular heartbeat. Given his age, healthcare providers believed his condition was caused by heart disease related to high cholesterol or high blood pressure. But a CT scan of his coronary arties showed that his left main coronary artery was attached to the right – not left – side of his heart. This was causing the artery to be compressed by surrounding heart tissue. The condition usually causes pain during exertion and is most normally seen when a young athlete suddenly collapses and dies during a sporting activity. This patient’s condition was rare under any circumstances – but was more unusual because he had lived with it so long.

Dr. Mellone said he enjoys internal medicine because it allows him to help patients with such a variety of conditions. During his presentation, the young physician used animation so the audience could see step-by-step how his patient’s blood flow was hampered by a congenital heart defect.

UCF Chief Resident Dr. Mahmoud Farhoud (above left) said he first saw the educational strength of Dr. Mellone’s case — and his ability to present it — during a Morning Report last November. During the reports, residents brief each other and their faculty members on cases they have handled. “When he presented this case, I saw a cardiology fellow, not a first-year resident,” said Dr. Farhoud of his colleague. I’m so proud of all our residents. We showed the ACP, ‘UCF is here now.’”

UCF’s residency program had seven presentations – two oral and five posters. In addition, third-year medical student Giordano presented “Study Approaches for USMLE Step 1: Analysis and a Predictive Model.” In her study, mentored by Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs Dr. Richard Peppler, Giordano surveyed members of the class of 2016 approximately one week after they took the Step 1 exam of basic science.

She asked questions about student’s study materials, days studied, and general feelings about their preparation. She found that students who performed well during their first year of medical school performed very well on Step 1 whether they studied 29-35 days, 36-42 days or for more than 42 days. Students who did not achieve straight A’s in first year scored approximately 10 points less if they studied less than 42 days but scored in the similar range as those with straight A’s if they studied more than 42 days. She used linear regression to develop an equation for predicting Step 1 score using a variety of variables of a student’s performance. Step scores play a huge role in students’ selection into top-tier residency programs. Giordano said she was “very surprised but honored to win. Many students, residents and fellows were interested in the topic and I am happy that my research was pertinent to so many people undergoing this process.”

Here are the subjects of the other resident presentations along with their mentors:

Oral presentations

  • Challenges in Diagnosing Rare Silent Tumors: A Case Report of Hepatoid Carcinoma of the Pancreas – Bruna Pellini Ferreira, M.D., Allison Carilli , M.D.

Competing poster presentations

  • A Misleading SAAG – Gerard Chaaya, M.D., Esteban Janolo, M.D.
  • A Grave Dilemma – Lillian Gonzales, M.D., Sujatha Vuyyuru, MD, Mamta Mangal, M.D.
  • Metastatic Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer Following Treatment of Toxic Multinodular Goiter – Mustafa Kinaan, M.D., Suzanne Q. Martinez, M.D.

Non-competing display posters

  • The Importance of Physical Examination: Delay in the Diagnosis of a Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Uvula – Faraz Afridi, M.D., Dennis Diaz, M.D.
  • There is More to Chest Pain than Heart Disease – Joana Vicente Vargas, M.D., Jorge Otoya, M.D., Ejaz Ghaffar, M.D.
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