Entry into the training program occurs in one of two tracks: Clinical or Physician Investigator. Successful completion of either track will allow the trainee to meet requirements for certification in both Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine. The Clinical Track is designed to produce top-notch clinicians and is suitable for pulmonologists entering community practice or clinical academics. The Physician Investigator Track is available for selected trainees committed to a career in academic medicine and focuses training in either clinical or basic sciences.
The Clinical Track consists of three years of training, during which the fellow rotates between nine different clinical rotations, as well as having research time and concurrent ambulatory care experience. There are 13 rotation blocks of four-week lengths each year. There are 10 rotations, including research elective blocks. The rotations are designed to provide a mix of ICU medicine, inpatient consultation, advanced procedure instruction, outpatient consultation and continuity, and subspecialty exposure (CF, ILD, interventional pulmonology, pulmonary hypertension, lung transplant, and sleep disorders).
The Fellowship Program emphasizes ambulatory care as well as inpatient medicine. The fellows will maintain a weekly continuity clinic at Parkland Memorial Hospital in the Chest Medicine and Sarcoid clinics. The third-year fellows will have their continuity clinic at the private Pulmonary clinics at the James W. Aston Ambulatory Care Center. Both clinics serve as a point of referral for a variety of chest diseases. In addition, fellows will also see outpatients in the VA Chest Clinic, the University Hospital Sleep & Breathing Disorders Clinic, the Parkland Chest Malignancy Clinic, the University Hospital Heart & Lung Clinic, and the Pulmonary Specialty Clinic, during respective rotations.
The ability to formulate important questions, research literature, and conduct or participate in a research project is also critical to subspecialist education; thus Clinical Track fellows will also participate in research under the guidance of the Fellowship Research Committee, with the direct mentorship by an appropriate member of the faculty. Projects are organized and initiated in the first year or early in the second. Although some work is conducted concurrently with clinical rotations, one month of protected time is set aside for each fellow in the first year, two months in the second year, and three months in the third year to facilitate scholarly activity. Fellows are expected to have completed or participated in publication-worthy projects by the end of the third year.
Physician Investigator Track
Trainees who commit to a career as a physician investigator and who plan to devote a substantial effort to scientific investigation may enter the four-year Physician Investigator Track. The goal of the Physician Investigator Track is to prepare outstanding pulmonary academic physician scientists. This program provides 18 months of intensive clinical training similar to the three-year Clinical Track, followed by two and a half years of research training.
During the latter period, the fellow will pair up with one of UT Southwestern’s experienced mentors and begin a highly tailored research program. The Division has a tradition of close collaboration with other clinical and basic science departments. Thus, the trainee will have access to the extensive resources of UT Southwestern, home of many distinguished faculty. Fellows may choose either patient-oriented or basic laboratory-based projects but will be fully committed to training in their chosen area. In the final year of the Physician Investigator Track, fellows are expected to submit a K-series grant to the NIH.
Trainees on the Physician Investigator Track spend the first year and a half rotating among the nine clinical rotations described earlier, participating in outpatient clinics and conferences, and taking call, just as other fellows on the Clinical Track.
Formal research training begins in the middle of the second year and continues uninterrupted through the third and fourth years. The fellow participates in continuity clinic a half day per week and attends Division conferences during the research years. The fellow also participates in the at-home call rotation for coverage at the major institutions at a reduced frequency.