Medals 4 Mettle

Medals4Mettle: A Program to Enhance the Medical Student-Patient Bond

Author: McKenzie Vater MS31*, Pradip D. Patel MD2, Kanyalakshmi Ayyanar, MD3, Autumn Marks, RN BSN CPHON4, Craig Ziegler, PhD5, Karen Hughes Miller, PhD6

Author Affiliations:

1Medical Student, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, USA.

2 Professor of Pediatrics, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, USA.

3 Associate Professor, Division of Pediatric Hematology Oncology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA.

4Practice Manager, University of Louisville Physicians Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders, Louisville, KY, USA.

5 Biostatistician, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, USA.

6 Associate Professor, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, USA.

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Corresponding Author: McKenzie Vater,

Key Words: service learning, humanism, empathy, student/patient communication, extracurricular activity



Introduction: Humanism is a necessary component of patient care. Medical schools are implementing strategies to educate students about humanism in medicine. The University of Louisville School of Medicine (ULSOM) encourages such practices through collaboration with Medals4Mettle (M4M), a non-profit organization that gives marathon medals to patients battling debilitating illnesses. The ULSOM’s chapter matches students participating in the Kentucky Derby Half/Full Marathon with pediatric patients, allowing students to establish a relationship with their “running buddies” prior to gifting their medals on race day as an act of support and acknowledgement of their struggle. The goal of this study was to evaluate the ULSOM chapter and to create a replicable model for other institutions to employ.

Methods: We conducted a survey for current and previous student and patient/parent participants. Participants were asked to complete six 5-point Likert scaled questions anchored with “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree” and three open-ended questions. The surveys were analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U test for quantitative analysis and Pandit’s variation of Glaser and Straus’ constant comparison for qualitative analysis.

Results: Data was collected from 62 medical students and 21 patients or parents (49% and 33% response rate, respectively). Five of the scaled questions had mean scores above 4.0, revealing that the majority of participants would recommend the M4M program to others and that M4M helped students relate to their patient on a personal level. The qualitative analysis identified four themes among participants: M4M is a wonderful program, it provides a patient benefit, people want to re-participate, and it allows you to connect with others.

Discussion: Findings from the survey suggest the implementation of programs like M4M will promote the integration of humanistic practices into medical school curricula. In the future, we plan to pair medical students with the patients earlier to create a longer-lasting, more meaningful relationship prior to the race.


Published on date: March, 2016


DOI: 10.15404/msrj/03.2016.0002

Citation: McKenzie et al. Medals4Mettle: A Program to Enhance the Medical Student-Patient Bond, Medical Student Research Journal (2016). doi: 10.15404/msrj/03.2016.0002


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