The field of pediatric hematology/oncology encompasses a broad array of disorders of infants, children, and adolescents with cancer and non-malignant disorders of the blood and blood-forming tissues. The intent of the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program is to train pediatricians in the prevention, diagnosis and management of disease so as to provide comprehensive, compassionate care for children and adolescents. Our training programs share a common goal to provide future academic pediatricians with a foundation to become competent clinicians, researchers, and educators. To achieve this, the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Training Program at Connecticut Children’s has the following objectives:
- To provide the clinical experiences and educational opportunities necessary to build a solid foundation of medical knowledge, critical thinking abilities, literature review, diagnostic acumen and technical skills.
- To provide academic pediatricians the critical thinking skills, intellectual environment, and research training and experience to develop careers as physician-scientists.
- To train well-rounded, empathetic clinicians to develop skills in communication and counseling with patients and families.
- To impart to our fellows the skills necessary to become lifelong learners and teachers, and develop leadership skills and work effectively with team members.
- To impart to our fellows a sense of responsibility to act as advocates for the health of children and families within our society.
- To expose our fellows to the concept of multi-institutional collaborative research as exemplified by the pediatric oncology cooperative groups and encourage them to become active members of the profession’s national societies.
- To prepare future pediatric hematologists/oncologists for the changes taking place within our health care system including managed care, limitations on resource utilization, and the shift of medical care to ambulatory settings.
- To create pediatric hematologists/oncologists able to practice the culturally competent medical care necessary in our increasingly diverse population.
- To teach professionalism by mentorship, validating the critical roles of personal ethics, responsibility, respect, compassion, communication, and self-awareness.
- To provide our training in an environment of respect and support, recognizing that fellowship training is a difficult and challenging time in one’s life.
During their first year, trainees are immersed in a curriculum with intense clinical training in the areas of pediatric hematology and oncology (inpatient and outpatient); pediatric neuro-oncology (inpatient and outpatient); and laboratory medicine/transfusion/hematopathology (Hartford Hospital). In the second year of fellowship, trainees will learn stem cell transplantation at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s, radiation oncology (Hartford Hospital) as well as additional time in our Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
There are 2 blocks (8 weeks) of research time during the first year of fellowship to begin to develop a research project. During their second and third years, fellows are engaged in less clinical training and more involved in research under the guidance of a faculty member who is their research mentor. There are abundant opportunities to pursue basic science, clinical or translational projects in partnership with UConn Health and The Jackson Laboratory. Their research progress is monitored via a Scholarly Oversight Committee, composed of research faculty, which convenes biannually.
In designing the clinical objectives for training, we have adhered to the criterion of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) for board certification and the American Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for training in pediatric subspecialties. Additionally, we have added to the core curriculum components of training that as clinicians we believe are essential to the clinical practice of pediatric hematology/oncology.
Fellowship programs may choose a variety of means to provide this educational experience, which may be dependent on program size and patient population. Components of the training include: clinical care (direct and consultative); a didactic core curriculum in clinical hematology, oncology, stem cell transplantation, neuro-oncology, and related basic sciences; and continuing responsibility for the care of patients with malignant disease and chronic hematologic problems.
Trainees at Connecticut Children’s spend their first year immersed in a curriculum with intense clinical training in the areas of inpatient pediatric hematology and oncology; hematology (inpatient and outpatient); stem cell transplantation (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s); pediatric neuro-oncology (inpatient and outpatient); and laboratory medicine/transfusion/hematopathology (Hartford Hospital) and research time to begin to develop a research project.
During their second and third years, fellows are engaged in less clinical training and more basic-science and translational research in the laboratory of a faculty member who is their research mentor. Their research progress is monitored via a Scholarly Oversight Committee, composed of research faculty, which convenes biannually.
Throughout all three years of training, fellows maintain a continuity clinic with a panel of primary patients which affords them an exposure to longitudinal care of children with blood disorders and cancer, including experience with relapses, retrieval strategies, and end of life/palliative care.