The CU Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics have launched a new, combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics housestaff training program aimed at filling an unmet need for physicians with expertise in both specialties.
“People are begging for it,” said Ben Hale, a fourth-year medical student who recently established a Med-Peds interest group for CU School of Medicine. “When I travel and people hear I am from Colorado they always say they wish we had a program like this here.”
The new four-year postdoctoral program will accept four residents per year, who will become board eligible in both specialties upon completion. It will become the 78th combined Med-Peds program in the country, but one of the few in the West.
“There are a growing number of conditions which span pediatrics to internal medicine and there is a need for primary care physicians and subspecialists who can care for these complex patients regardless of their age,” said Dr. Suzanne Brandenburg, director of the DOM’s internal medicine residency. “There is also room in this part of the country for a highly regarded medicine-pediatrics training program.”
The new program will be directed by Dr. Joe Kay, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics and co-directed by Dr. Daniel Reirden, assistant professor of pediatrics and medicine. “Having this here will bring a new depth to both the internal medicine and pediatric departments,” says Kay. “And with the primary care doctor shortage that we envision in this country, having extra trainees like this will really help to meet patient needs. It’s an exciting step to advance medicine in Colorado.”
The program is support by a joint effort of The Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, the University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Colorado. Suzanne Sullivan, Vice President of Ambulatory Services at The University of Colorado Hospital, says “The University of Colorado Hospital is currently collaborating with the CU School of Medicine in becoming a designated Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), a model that refocuses on the patient as the center of care and engages teams of providers and staff. This new Med Peds residency program will enrich the PCMH model and embed true continuity of care over the patient’s lifespan.”
Dr. Joe Kay, an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at CU, says he went into Med-Peds after graduating from medical school at State University of New York, because he loved working with children and he loved the complexity of internal medicine. He also saw a lack of physicians able to take care of children with conditions like congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, childhood cancer, and early-life organ transplants once they reached adulthood.
“More children are surviving with complex disorders, and I did not want to be a doctor who, when my patient turned 18, had to give up their care because I wasn’t qualified to take care of them as adults,” said Kay, who did his training at University of Michigan and now specializes in congenital heart disease.
CU’s Med-Peds will involve 24 months of pediatrics training and 24 months of internal medicine training, with residents rotating between medicine and pediatric every 3-6 months. The programs do not provide formal obstetrical or surgical training. Most importantly, the Med-Peds program which focuses on the care of children and adults with serious and life-threatening diseases complements the family medicine program that focuses more on the health of the individual and community.
With 24 subspecialties and fellowships, from cardiology and infectious disease to critical care and endocrinology, Med-Peds trainees have an array of post-residency options and potential career paths. On average, 50% go into primary care, with between 77 and 93% working with both adults and children. Twenty-five percent pursue fellowship and subspecialty training. And 15% become hospitalists, according to NMPRA. Nearly 40 percent remain involved in education.
“I am very excited about the new residency program in Medicine and Pediatrics. This program is overdue as we have historically had individual Medicine and Pediatric residencies that are among the best in the country. In addition both departments have a long history of focus on cutting edge education. This new program will combine the best of both and attract outstanding applicants,” says Steve Daniels, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics.
David Schwartz, Chair of the Department of Medicine adds “This program represents a long awaited partnership between the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics and will meet an unmet need. We have already seen an unprecedented interest in this program. I look to this exciting program as opportunity to attract outstanding candidates and train the future leaders in this integrated field of clinical care.”