Blair Hammond, ‘03
DMS + motherhood = the best possible training

“I have to confess that many of “my” great teaching ideas are things that I’ve borrowed from my experience at Dartmouth,” says Blair Seidler Hammond, DMS’03. “The curriculum is so well thought out. Being in the world of medical education, I think about it all the time. Dartmouth really has struck a nice balance between problem based learning, classroom learning, longitudinal clinical experience, and incorporating humanism into medicine but not forgetting about the science. It really is impressive, and I love that about Dartmouth.”

Hammond is Associate Clerkship Director in the Department of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, where she did her residency in general pediatrics. In 2006, she received the Mount Sinai Hospital Pediatric Resident Clinician/Teacher Award. “I love teaching,” she says. “I focus a lot on medical education. My area of interest is in curricular development and how we can improve the rotations that our students currently do.”

She discovered her love of teaching soon after completing her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth, when she spent two years teaching biology and chemistry to 8th, 9th, and 10th graders. “It was a difficult decision for me to go to medical school, because I loved what I was doing,” Hammond says. “But I was excited at the thought of possibly teaching about health, which I now get to do.”

Her teaching responsibilities at Mount Sinai are many and varied. In addition to helping to run the third year medical students’ pediatrics clerkship, she leads the pediatrics interest group, oversees the fourth year sub-internship in pediatrics, conducts a weekly bedside teaching rounds and a weekly evidence based medicine teaching round, precepts pediatric residents, and serves as faculty mentor for residents who started and run the department’s hugely popular parent support groups. Hammond also teaches in the Art and Science of Medicine course for second year students, where, she notes, “I’ve been working to integrate some of the elements that we had at Dartmouth that I think are so good, like problem based learning and clinical reasoning.”

The DMS faculty themselves are also important role models for her. “The teaching at Dartmouth is unparalleled,” she says. “The faculty are so dedicated. They are inspired, they are motivated, they are nice, they are eager and enthusiastic. I cannot imagine a better place to go to medical school.”

Of her work as a pediatrician, Hammond says, “I just love the patients and I love dealing with the parents almost as a patient, too. I like thinking about what developmentally are the needs of the patient and the psychosocial issues. It’s just so appealing to me.” She continues to provide direct patient care at Mount Sinai and works every third weekend as a pediatrician on call for a private pediatrics practice. In New York it’s busy, she says. “You can easily get over 60 phone calls in a weekend.”

While Hammond credits her DMS experience as an inspiration for her teaching, her personal experiences have deeply influenced her approach to patient care. As a teenager, Hammond had a close-up look at medicine through her mother’s battle with ovarian cancer. “I saw how much the few minutes that you get to spend with the doctor matter, and how if they sit down instead of stand up and actually talk to you it makes such a difference,” she explains. “I realized how much the personality of the doctor influences your perception of the care you’re getting.”

Parenthood has also been an important teacher. In September, 2006, she and her husband, Scott, welcomed the arrival of their “extraordinarily colicky” daughter, Callie. “In many ways being a mother teaches you more about pediatrics than residency does," she says. “I just didn’t quite get it until I was a parent. I’m a much more empathetic pediatrician now.” And she notes that when she teaches a session on breastfeeding, “I now feel like a real expert!”

Fall 2007