LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 25, 2012) — The University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics has been authorized to offer a fellowship in child abuse pediatrics, becoming one of only 25 in the country approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
“We are acutely aware of the nationwide need for child abuse pediatricians as we struggle to deal with Kentucky’s serious child abuse and neglect problem,” said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., MHA, chairman, UofL Department of Pediatrics. “Education is one of our strongest weapons. Through this fellowship, we will train doctors who, in turn, will train others to recognize and prevent abuse and neglect.”
Over the course of the three-year program, fellows will develop proficiency in physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, neglect, prevention and advocacy, working with board-certified forensic pediatricians as well as subspecialists such as orthopedists and radiologists who routinely evaluate children’s injuries.
Each year in Kentucky, there are more than 14,000 substantiated reports of abuse and neglect. Thirty to forty children die from these injuries and 30 to 60 more children have injuries severe enough to be deemed near-fatalities.
“Having a fellowship increases our workforce, which makes us better able to help Kentucky’s abused children. It enables us to do more research in child abuse, as well. This is a requirement of the program but it’s also an area of interest to our faculty,” said Lisa Pfitzer, M.D., director of the fellowship program.
“We are currently participating in an NIH-funded study about bruising in children. This five-year study will greatly enhance our understanding of the characteristics of child abuse and generate enough data for many additional studies,” added Melissa Currie, M.D., chief, UofL Pediatrics-Forensic Medicine.
Christina Howard, M.D., the program’s first fellow, will begin her training July 1, 2012. A native of Georgetown, Ky., she has just completed a pediatric residency at the University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics.
The fellowship will be offered through the UofL Department of Pediatrics Division of Forensic Medicine, a team that includes two board-certified child abuse pediatricians, a Ph.D. psychologist, five forensic nurses and a social worker.