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Pediatric resident recognized for commitment to children's health

Apr. 10, 2014

Megan Song McHenry, M.D., has been named the inaugural Joyce Victoria McRobbie Pediatric Fellow, an endowment honoring IU President Michael A. McRobbie's mother, who died in 2012.

Megan McHenry

Megan Song McHenry, M.D., left, with husband, Adam McHenry, M.D. | Photo By Erik Markov

Dr. McHenry, a pediatrician and a Morris Green Physician Scientist who graduated from IUSM in 2011, is serving a pediatric residency at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. She accepted the award during a ceremony April 2 in the VanNuys Medical Science Building atrium.

"My mother cared very deeply for children and possessed a lifelong commitment to children’s health, particularly in the fields of psychiatry and neurodevelopment," McRobbie said. "Given the truly outstanding work that is done in the IU School of Medicine, in the Department of Pediatrics, the Wells Center for Pediatric Research and Riley Hospital for Children, my wife, Laurie, and I believed that establishing a fellowship for a pediatric resident or intern focused on a career in academic medicine and research would be a fitting tribute."

Despite a passion for the field, Dr. McHenry said a career in medicine wasn't originally in her plans as a student entering college. It's wasn't until a life-changing experience overseas that she decided she could make a difference through medicine.

"I always knew that I wanted to serve and improve the lives of others; however, it initially was unclear what the best outlet for serving others was for me," she said. "Working in an orphanage for disabled children in Ukraine, I observed that many of these children’s disabilities may have been lessened by preventive care and health monitoring. It was through this experience, along with many others, that I realized health was the foundation that enables individuals to live fulfilling lives."

Megan McHenry

IU President Michael A. McRobbie, Ph.D.; Dr. McHenry, Jay Hess, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the IU School of Medicine and IU vice president for university clinical affairs; and D. Wade Clapp, M.D., chair and Richard L. Schreiner Professor of Pediatrics. | Photo By Erik Markov

"I wanted to have the skills to help strengthen this foundation, and medical school seemed like the best path to achieve this goal," she added.

After enrolling at IUSM, Dr. McHenry expected to pursue medicine as a general pediatrician working locally in a rural or underserved area -- or in a resource-limited area overseas. She volunteered with many of the IUSM Office of Medical Service-Learning projects; worked at the IU Student Outreach Clinic, Best Buddies, the Himalayan Health Exchange; and organized a spring break service trip to post-Katrina Mississippi.

She found all of those experiences rewarding, she said. But it wasn't until her final year in medical school that she found the field of health services research and how, she said, "it effectively and comprehensively achieves my goals of helping large numbers of individuals."

"This discovery changed everything," she said. "Each project I heard about through the Children's Health Services Research group was exciting, interesting and something in which I wanted to be involved."

Megan McHenry

Rachel Vreeman, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and one of McHenry's mentors, at the ceremony. | Photo By Erik Markov

During a fourth-year clinical rotation in Kenya, Dr. McHenry met Rachel Vreeman, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics in Children's Health Services Research at IU and a Regenstrief Institute affiliated scientist, whose research includes multiple health services research projects focused on improving HIV care in Kenya.

"Working on projects with Dr. Vreeman related to HIV-infected children through the AMPATH program has helped lay the groundwork for projects that I would like to achieve in the future," Dr. McHenry said. 

She's also successfully worked to fulfill her desire to serve international communities locally by starting several community health-related projects with local Burmese refugees in Indianapolis.

Staying in Indianapolis for her pediatric residency was an easy decision due to the opportunity to develop research projects with other mentors at Children's Health Services Research, McHenry added, as well as the chance to develop her knowledge in research practices as a part of the Morris Green Physician Scientist Development Program.

"I have loved every minute of these experiences," she said. 

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