The Anteater butterfly effect

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In scientific circles, the “butterfly effect� refers to a tiny action that triggers larger consequences down the road, such as the flutter of an insect’s wings in Brazil snowballing into a tornado in Texas.

The phrase may also be an apt metaphor for what happened at UCI School of Medicine’s recent white coat ceremony for incoming medical students.

The tale begins in January, when former kindergarten teacher Sally Palmer was treated for breast cancer at UCI Medical Center. Grateful for the care she received, Palmer and her husband, Greg, who founded GPalmer & Associates and sits on the UCI Health Advisory Board, decided to donate to the medical school.

“We feel that everyone has an obligation to give back,� Sally Palmer explains. “Success doesn’t come from what we’ve done for ourselves, but what we can do for others.�

It was important to the Palmers to give Dr. Michael Stamos, UCI’s medical school dean, the freedom to apply the funds to the areas of greatest need. Stamos leveraged the gift, along with other funds to help purchase handheld Butterfly iQ ultrasound devices for all 104 members of the class of 2023. The portable machines, which can scan a person’s entire body and display the results on a smartphone, are the latest manifestation of UCI’s 10-year-old iMedEd initiative, which emphasizes digital and cutting-edge instruction, Stamos says.

In previous years, UCI Health has distributed iPads and Google Glass gadgets to incoming students. Now it becomes the first school in America to equip an entire class with Butterfly iQs. “As one of the earliest universities to get their hands on this device, we currently have 25 Butterflies in the curriculum and our students have been using them in the hospital, in the ER, in clinics and even internationally,� says Dr. Warren Wiechmann, associate dean of clinical science education and educational technology. “The experience of viewing ultrasound images of a live patient enables students to actively learn the wonders of the human body. The value is immeasurable.�

The Palmers hope their gift will have a long-lasting ripple effect. “Ultrasound cuts down on the time patients have to wait for answers,� says Greg Palmer. “It might even save lives. We’re very proud to have played a small part in helping UCI students get this training from Day 1.�

Says Sally Palmer: “When students at the white coat ceremony received their ultrasound devices, they weren’t thrilled to receive it for themselves. They were thrilled because of what the machines can do for patients. It’s a wonderful thing.�

Watch to see the students’ reaction.

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Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. The School of Medicine plays a vital role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting