Norwalk resident among the winners of the American Medical Student Association and the ABIM Foundation’s ‘Building Trust Essay Contest’

Elina Kurkurina, a second-year medical student at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University. Photo by Quinnipiac University. (contributed)

Elina Kurkurina, of Norwalk, a second-year student at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, has been selected as one of six winners of the Building Trust Essay Contest sponsored by the American Medical Student Association and the ABIM Foundation.

The winners were chosen for their portrayals of the misinformation that continues even after the COVID-19 public health emergency has been lifted. Medical students from 20 schools across the country submitted essays about their experiences with misinformation in a healthcare setting.

As a contest winner, Kurkurina will present her essay, “The Missing Link: Interpretation and Connection,” at the ABIM Foundation Forum, “Reframing Trust: A Path to Address Misinformation,” July 21-24 in Asheville, North Carolina.

“I’m honored to have been selected as one of the ‘building trust’ essay winners,” Kurkurina said. “It’s a topic I’ve thought about a lot recently, and one that I believe is important. We often think about misinformation in the context of the COVID pandemic and vaccines. I wanted to focus on a story from my clinical experience unrelated to those two topics to show how pervasive this can be, and that it can impact all sorts of patients. I’m thankful that Netter offers clinical exposure for first- and second-year students, which provided me with an opportunity to reflect on patient encounters early in my training.”

Kurkurina wrote about online medical information, which she says is often consumed out of context.

“Internet searches tend to identify rare or worst-case outcomes,” she said. “Misinformation and misinterpretation often go hand-in-hand, and it’s hard to navigate this space alone. Caring for vulnerable patients requires trust, comfort and thoughtful communication to help alleviate the anxiety often experienced by patients in these settings.”

Dr. Phil Boiselle, dean of the School of Medicine at Quinnipiac, said, “On behalf of the entire QU Netter School of Medicine community, I would like to congratulate Elina Kurkurina for her award-winning essay on the power of teachable moments in rebuilding the foundation of trust and partnership in patient care. The skills of empathy and connection that she highlights in her essay are integral to our patient-centered approach to medical education.”

During her first year of medical school, Kurkurina was one of four first-year medical students selected to be part of Netter’s Students and Trainees Advocating for Resource Stewardship, which aims to help medical students develop skills to identify the appropriate amount of patient care.

Originally from Key West, Florida, Kurkurina has a Master of Public Health from the Yale School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Florida.

She and her husband, Chase Kayfus, have a 3-year-old rescue puppy, Colby.

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