The Department of Pediatrics at UCSF specializes in innovative education.

“We train outstanding clinicians and leaders who advance the health of infants, children and adolescents throughout the world,” says Daniel West, MD, director of the Pediatric Residency Program, which oversees the resident-physicians — doctors who have received a medical degree and now are undergoing training to become pediatricians.

UCSF welcomed a diverse group of students into the medical education program that focuses on meeting the health care needs of the underserved.

“Every day, we strive to build an intellectually stimulating, innovative and supportive environment that fosters the development of clinical skills, individual passions, and a sense of inquiry and social responsibility,” West says.

The Residency Program

The three-year Pediatric Residency Program comprises 85 residents. “The opportunity to pursue one’s particular passion makes the UCSF Pediatric Residency Program among the most innovative in the country,” says West. It also draws from the most qualified applicant pool in the world, he notes.

Four of the 28 entering residents each year enroll in the Pediatric Leadership for the Underserved (PLUS) program, which highlights UCSF’s commitment to training physicians who can deliver care where it is needed most. Though these residents can come from any medical school, PLUS is a natural progression from the UCSF Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved (PRIME-US), a special, five-year track for University of California medical students interested in working with the underserved.

The other 24 entering pediatric residents enroll in the categorical program, which prepares them for any specialty within pediatrics and opens the door to three clinical tracks:

  • Primary care — focuses on community pediatrics, including acquisition of the skills necessary to collaborate with community organizations and being an effective advocate.
  • Critical care — for residents who want to explore careers in critical care medicine, neonatology or cardiology.
  • Categorical (general pediatrics) training — for residents who plan to pursue subspecialty training or a career as a pediatric hospitalist, a physician who specializes in the medical care of hospitalized patients.

These tracks open yet another door, this time to four pathways that allow residents to develop their personal interests and passions:

  • Global Health Scholars Pathway — builds the skills necessary for international health work in developing countries, and takes advantage of formal relationships with clinical sites in Southeast Asia and Africa.
  • Molecular Medicine Pathway — fosters the development of pediatric physician-scientists and includes seminars focusing on a broad range of scientific topics and special mentoring programs. 
  • Clinical and Translational Science Pathway — builds skills in clinical research design and biostatistics, and takes advantage of a strong relationship with the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at UCSF.
  • Medical Education Pathway — includes formal coursework in medical education, teaching, curricular design and assessment.

Pulling It All Together

UCSF pediatric hospitalists play a particularly important role in the training of all pediatric residents, most of whom spend a sizable portion of their clinical time in the inpatient unit at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. The goal of the hospitalists is to ensure that the needs of the whole patient are addressed at the same time that highly specialized care is being provided.

Nurse practitioner Aimee Sznewajs and pediatric cancer specialist Robert Goldsby, MD.

“Placing pediatric residents under the supervision of a pediatric hospitalist — with input from specialists — means someone is constantly helping pediatric residents see how the various pieces fit together,” says Stephen Wilson, MD, PhD, associate chief medical officer at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

Fellowship Training

A medical fellowship supports physicians who undertake training in a medical specialty after completing their residency. UCSF pediatric fellowships, which cover a variety of subspecialties in pediatrics and academic medicine, are among the most prestigious and well-regarded fellowships in the world, according to West. Perhaps the most important reason is that pediatric fellows at UCSF work closely with a long list of established investigators at a medical school that consistently ranks among the top two in National Institutes of Health research funding.

“Another of our great strengths is the opportunity we provide for pediatric fellows to stay on for additional training as a bridge to a faculty position,” says West. “Talented young researchers continue doing research in a mentored environment, so they can build toward the goal of becoming an independent investigator.”

Training for Nurses

The UCSF School of Nursing is one of the leading training programs for advanced practice pediatric nursing, offering credentials for nurse practitioners in pediatrics, acute care pediatrics, advanced practice neonatology and perinatal nursing, and for clinical nurse specialists in neonatology.

The nursing school also offers a program specifically designed for nurses to enable them to specialize in the burgeoning field of adolescent and young adult health. It provides adolescent-intensive training on top of and in conjunction with the typical clinical, didactic and project-based curriculum for master’s and doctoral students in nursing, focusing on meeting the needs of underrepresented minorities and in recruiting advanced practice nursing students from these populations.

The program is supported by a 2008 Nursing Leadership in Adolescent and Young Adult Health grant awarded to the school’s Department of Family Health Care Nursing, one of two such grants that the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau has awarded to help advance nursing leadership in maternal-child health.