North Carolina AHEC Program
summer 2012 newsletter | home

Medical Student Learns About Children’s Needs

Before Mary Devon McWilliams went to medical school to become a pediatrician, she was already connected with young children. As an elementary school teacher and certified child life specialist, her experience in the classroom grew into a desire to help children in a clinical setting. Mary Devon McWilliams“I have always been interested in working with children,” the fourth-year Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine medical student said, following her recent pediatric rotation with Howard Loughlin, MD, medical director of Southern Regional AHEC’s Child Evaluation Clinic.

As part of her rotation experience, McWilliams (photo right) worked with Loughlin in the evaluation clinic and at Fayetteville’s Child Advocacy Center. “The child advocacy rotation offered me a chance to see beyond the everyday clinical encounters that pediatricians usually experience,” she said. “It was extremely helpful to become aware of the incredible resources available in the community to help children thrive. Additionally, I was able to understand how essential a team approach is to child maltreatment.”

McWilliams realized that in working alongside with Loughlin, she was seeing an expert at work. “I was able to learn the essence of the interview technique and see it in action,” she recalled of her rotation experience. “His bedside manner and being able to put patients at ease is definitely an art that Dr. Loughlin has mastered.”

As a former teacher and exceptional medical student, McWilliams understands that a good pediatrician must possess many characteristics in order to be successful. “The ability to connect with children and their families is crucial,” she noted. “A pediatrician recognizes the need for health care professionals and families to work together in order to raise healthy, happy children. He or she must be a good listener and offer advice/guidance when appropriate.”

But most important, she believes, is for children and their parents to form a lasting relationship of trust with their pediatrician. “Families entrust their most precious gifts, their children, with their physician and this is something to be honored and respected,” she said.

“The resilience and charisma that children have even in the face of illness or injury is truly remarkable. The smile of a child is like nothing else.”