Pediatric residencies are designed to provide residents with the skills to practice in the field of general pediatrics. According to Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) standards, just 40% of a resident’s training is required to be in the outpatient setting. There is the expectation that at the end of three years, a resident is capable of spending 95% of their practice in the primary-care setting despite spending less than half of their training in outpatient medicine.
Having a greater focus on inpatient medicine during residency provides a knowledge base that is adequate to start an HM career. As intended, the amount of training dedicated to inpatient and outpatient care in a pediatric residency program is adequate to achieve the skills that make them capable of practicing both inpatient and outpatient care.
Although Freed stated the goal of advanced training, it is unclear what specialized body of knowledge would be gained during a fellowship. The need for advanced clinical training is a concept that is a careerlong, neverending endeavor. Even if this were the reason to require a fellowship, how long is long enough to have mastered clinical care?
One year? Two years? 35 years? If more than half of a three-year residency is not enough time to provide residents the education and training to care for hospitalized inpatients, we should not require more training; we should fix our current training system.
Administrative experience and training in QI and research are important skills that can help advance a hospitalist’s career. It is important to recognize that because these skills are not required for all pediatric hospitalist positions, it would be unnecessary for all hospitalists to attain these skills in a fellowship. In addition, for those interested in administration or research, there are many other ways to attain those skills, including the APA educational scholars program or obtaining a master’s degree in medical education. The added benefit of these avenues for additional skills is that they can be completed throughout a career as a pediatric hospitalist.
As pediatric hospital medicine is a field in its early stages, it is important to consider all options for certification. While fellowship training has been the path for many subspecialties within pediatrics, HM will be better served by recognizing the need to remain inclusive. The positions within HM are broad, and the training should be individualized for the skills each physician requires.
Dr. Eagle is a hospitalist in the general medicine service at The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.
- Freed G, Dunham K. Characteristics of pediatric hospital medicine fellowships and training programs. J Hosp Med. 2009;4(3):157-163.