The Department of Pediatrics has more than 90 postdoctoral trainees in the subspecialty training programs overseen by the various Divisions. The faculty places tremendous value in preparing these young pediatricians to undertake careers as clinician-investigators, teachers, subspecialty consultants, and more generally, as contributors to the growing body of knowledge in the fields of pediatric medicine and developmental biology.
Faculty members view fellowship education as the first and most important step in the transfer of the academic mission to the next generation.
The last 10 years have seen a phenomenal change in the style of postgraduate education. This has been brought about by the recognition that the apprenticeship system on which residencies and fellowships have been based for almost a century often shortchanged education in the interest of clinical service.
The result of this recognition has been a series of guidelines designed to guarantee the integrity of the educational environment against the demands that the changing health care landscape has applied on academic centers. Although the spirit of such guidelines has been welcomed by the academic community, the proper balance between exposure to clinical responsibility and protection for learning and research remains at issue.
Our Department sees opportunity in these developments. Key to realizing this opportunity is the awareness that fellowships must accomplish three goals:
- Preparation of future subspecialists both cognitively and technically to practice their new discipline proficiently
- Provide them with the analytical skills and critical thinking necessary to confront conditions they have not previously encountered
- Engender a solid compulsion to advance knowledge through research and teaching
To facilitate the pursuit of these goals, every division in the Department has developed a training program that provides both the clinical experience and the environment for fellows to be exposed to research and taught the means to translate inquiry into scholarship. All the subspecialty programs are certified by the Residency Review Committee of the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education and contain clinical and research experiences in accord with the guidelines set forth by the American Board of Pediatrics for subspecialty training.
The Department of Pediatrics and the Medical School offer a rich array of seminars, conferences, research opportunities, and core facilities to complement the activities of the specific program our fellows enter.
The Department of Pediatrics has a well-established tradition of encouraging and supporting its fellows to participate in activities nationally and locally to enhance their education. Our fellows have been recognized for their accomplishment and academic potential by receiving a number of awards and fellowship grants from subspecialty and research societies and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Many fellows have also competed successfully for fellowships from the Pediatric Scientist Training Program and for K awards from the NIH or analogous mentored research grants. The Department and the School are deeply committed to helping young talented physicians develop an academic career, and Southwestern Medical School has created its own Physician Scientist Training Program, as well as a Training Curriculum in Patient-Oriented Research (TCPOR) to help launch the careers of promising fellows in clinical departments.
Since 2004, the Department has established an interdisciplinary program for fellowship education. The objective of this program, which is unique in the country, is to develop a departmental repository of educational and administrative resources to enrich the opportunities offered by the individual fellowships.
The program is directed by Dr. Charles R. Rosenfeld, Professor of Pediatrics, Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, and Obstetrics/Gynecology, who has more than 35 years of educational and research experience and has maintained NIH funding for more than 30 years.
Dr. Rosenfeld works with the fellowship Program Directors and uses input from the fellows to maintain a bimonthly conference directed toward meeting the Core Requirements of the ACGME for all training programs, providing a site for the presentation of fellow and faculty research, and importantly, providing an opportunity for social interaction or general discussions between the fellows.
In May 2011 we held our Second Annual Senior Fellows’ Research Day that included poster or oral presentations by all senior fellows of their research projects.