Education was frequently cited in interviews and on the faculty survey as the Department of Pediatrics’ strongest mission, with a long and proud heritage dating back to the department’s founding in 1952.
Review of faculty survey data confirms continued excellence across the education program, and the interviews highlighted several factors that have been key to its success:
- A committed faculty who care deeply about teaching
- A diverse patient population that allows broad exposure to the field for trainees
- Continued support by the Department of Pediatrics and the School of Medicine
Some interviewees noted a subtle decline in recent years in the scholarly reputation of the program. Interviewees attributed this to a variety of factors including:
- A relative lack of process, structure and systems in place to manage the increasing complexity of medical education
- The lack of a strong scholarly component, with an insufficient emphasis on exposure to research.
- A lack of fellowship programs
The Committee saw an opportunity to fortify the education mission by formalizing faculty and staff roles in education leadership – specifically, by defining explicit roles and providing the appropriate support to those appointed to these roles, and to better recognize and support educators in the department.
An opportunity was seen to infuse more research into teaching of medical students, residents, fellows and physicians.
Finally, new fellowship programs were seen as an important opportunity, recognizing that the foremost challenge will be to secure the necessary funding to make this possible.
Priorities and Initiatives
Strategic Priority 1: Formalize faculty leadership roles and structure for education in the department
Because the education program and regulatory demands have grown more complex, there is a need to establish a stable and robust organization to oversee these activities.
- Formalize and centralize the leadership roles within the department Office of Education which would in part satisfy the Residency Review Committee (RRC) requirements:
- Program Director and Associate Director(s) – 1.25 FTE
- Program Coordinator – 2.0 FTE
- Director of Fellowship Training – 0.1 FTE
- Director of CME programs – 0.05 FTE (Responsible for bolstering quality of Grand Rounds, AHEC CME relations, an annual regionally or nationally advertised CME event, and other CME opportunities such as off-site for local referring practices)
Strategic Priority 2: Improve opportunities for scholarship within the educational programs
Opportunities to expose trainees to more research and scholarship were identified during the strategic planning process. This is an important element of ensuring that UNC is training the pediatrics leaders of the future.
- Medical Students: Introduce more medical students to research in pediatrics by encouraging pediatric presentations at UNC’s Student Research Day and accommodating between five to eight students per year through the School of Medicine post first-year student research summer programs.
- Residents: Create a physician-scientist track in residency in addition to the newly created global/public health/advocacy, critical care/hospitalist and general pediatrics tracks; require scholarly presentation(s) during training and at the Department of Pediatrics’ Evening of Scholarship; and implement a curricular thread on research methods.
- Fellows: Coordinate a curriculum on research methods (e.g., engage fellows in Child Health TraCS, old Robert Wood Johnson Core Curriculum/K30, and child health service research exposure) and encourage fellow participation in the Evening of Scholarship or some other Grand Rounds-type presentation at the end of fellowship.
Strategic Priority 3: Stabilize and improve fellowship training program
Fellowships are a critical feature of leading academic medical programs. The Department of Pediatrics should expand its fellowship offerings and ensure the necessary funding is in place.
- Expand the department subspecialty fellowship offerings, namely, a Pediatric Gastroenterology fellowship within the next three years, and a second new subspecialty fellowship within the next five to seven years.
- Improve and standardize fellowship recruitment by targeting high quality local residents for high need fellowship spots, explore the concept of a “fellowship-to-faculty” track for recruiting outstanding potential fellows, provide support for additional training (e.g., MPH, MSCI, MBA, etc) and contract with high performing trainees to return on as faculty in selected areas of strategic importance.
- Establish stable funding sources for fellowship programs by seeking support for their clinical training year(s), collaborate with UNC departments and centers for National Institute of Health T32 training program grants, and prioritize funding amongst other departmental priorities and improving philanthropic support of fellowship programs.