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Physician Connection
A Communication Service for Physicians from CHOC and CHOC at Mission. Please Note: Physician Connection is no longer being printed and is now available electronically. Please visit our blog at http://docs.chocchildrens.org for the latest articles for our physician community. You can also receive our electronic Physician Connection newsletter in your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list: http://www.choc.org/subscribe

In the Spotlight: Merl J. Carson, M.D.

It has been more than 30 years since his passing, yet Merl “Kit” Carson, M.D., CHOC Children’s first medical director, is still remembered with deep respect and appreciation by the CHOC physicians who completed residency training under his tutelage. CHOC pediatrician Michael Cater, M.D., who served as chief resident and also took an elective with him, unveiled a bronze plaque honoring Dr. Carson during Doctors’ Day festivities at CHOC on March 29.

“Dr. Carson was a polymathic physician, a legendary teacher and an extremely capable administrator,” Dr. Cater said. “He had an incredible knowledge base and was extremely supportive of the practicing pediatricians in Orange County.”

Maria Minon, M.D., the last CHOC chief resident selected by Dr. Carson, remembers him as an “incredible diagnostician” who taught her the importance of taking a good patient history and a thorough physical examination.

“Now with all the technology, it seems like that gets a little lost because it’s so easy to do tests and ultrasound,” said Dr. Minon, who is currently vice president of CHOC Children’s medical affairs and chief medical officer. “It was amazing the kind of diagnoses Dr. Carson made from a meticulous history and physical exam.”

A Superb Pediatrician
Born in 1913, Dr. Carson received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He completed an internship at Rochester General Hospital, in New York, and a residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In 1945, he joined the faculty of St. Louis Children’s Hospital and directed the pediatric infectious diseases unit at the Washington School of Medicine. A few years later, Dr. Carson became medical director of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He left that position in 1957 to complete a pediatric neurology fellowship at UCLA, during which he spent a year at the Great Ormand Street Hospital for Children in London.

By the early 1960s, Dr. Carson was back in California directing pediatrics at what is now UC Irvine Medical Center. In 1964, he became the first CHOC medical director, a position he held until he died in 1978. At the time of his death, Dr. Carson was personally running most of the CHOC clinics and was professor of pediatrics at UC Irvine.

The plaque is not the only tribute to this inspiring physician’s memory. For many years, the “Merl J. Carson Award” has been given annually to the most outstanding graduating CHOC resident.

“His skills as a bedside teacher were legendary,” Dr. Cater said. “He could give a 20-minute extemporaneous lecture on just about any topic in pediatrics.”


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chocChildren's Hospital of Orange County | UCI University of California, Irvine

Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

CHOC Children's - 1201 W La Veta Ave, Orange, CA. Phone: 714-997-3000. .