UofL Department of Pediatrics selected for university teaching award

UofL Department of Pediatrics selected for university teaching award

The University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics has been selected to receive the university's 2013-14 Paul Weber Award for Departmental Excellence in Teaching.

Established by Provost Shirley Willihnganz in October 2005, this university-wide teaching award recognizes departmental excellence in teaching at UofL. The award is named in memory of Dr. Paul Weber, a distinguished teacher, scholar and mentor at the University of Louisville. It recognizes departments who are engaged in sustained efforts to promote teaching excellence through implementing best practices in teaching and learning.

"We are honored to be the first UofL department to receive this important teaching award," said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., MHA, chair of the Department of Pediatrics. "As pediatricians, we are trained to observe subtle growth and change in our patients. As educators, we remain attuned to this same process in our community of learners."

"We strive to prepare the complete pediatrician of tomorrow and enrich the practicing pediatrician of today by engaging them as learners, listening to their needs and integrating new knowledge with real-time experiences," Kimberly Boland, M.D., vice chair for pediatric medical education, said.

Pediatrics has incorporated numerous innovative programs into its curriculum. Each year, 20-26 rising second-year medical students take a break from the classroom to participate in a four-week summer externship program. This clinical experience provides a preview of pediatric medicine in private and academic offices and hospital settings.

A new procedure rotation enables pediatric residents to hone their skills on 26 pediatric procedures, ranging from stitching up a wound to performing a spinal tap. This rotation corrects training shortcomings posed by mandated duty-hour limitations and the use of specialized hospital teams.

Trainees get to walk in their patients' shoes through the Poverty and Social Justice in Child Health rotation. They learn to negotiate a clinic trip on public transportation and to shop healthfully using food stamps. Time spent working with refugees and in community health centers also broadens their understanding of the unique challenges of impoverished children and families.

Residents practice communications skills with patient actors. They also learn to advocate for children at the community and state level through the resident organization PUSH (Pediatricians Urging Safety and Health).

Faculty development in pediatrics also is a priority. The department has developed a curriculum of more than 50 topics focused on improving teaching skills, mentoring, career development and research.

The department will receive a monetary award of $30,000 to support efforts to enhance critical thinking and plans to use the money to integrate innovative technology into its core curriculum.