|Fellowship Highlight: Pediatric Rehabilitation |
| Elizabeth Martin, MD, MPH, MHS |
PGY-4, Stanford University
AAPM&R RPC Past President
Kelly Pham, MD
Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine Fellow, Seattle Children’s Hospital
Physiatrists that specialize in pediatric rehabilitation focus on “the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of congenital and childhood-onset physical impairments,” according to the National Resident Matching Program’s website. This seemingly simple definition covers a very broad spectrum of conditions, including but not limited to, brain injury and spinal cord injury, congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida or muscular dystrophy, rare metabolic or genetic conditions, as well as areas such as pediatric sports or pediatric musculoskeletal medicine. Those interested in pursuing a career in pediatric rehabilitation medicine (PRM) have a couple of routes to choose from. As of 2011, applicants must complete either a 5-year combined pediatric and PM&R residency, or complete a PM&R residency followed by a 2-year PRM fellowship in order to be eligible for board certification in PRM. Residents completing a combined residency are no longer required to complete an additional year of fellowship to qualify for PRM board certification. At the time of this article, there are 3 programs offering the combined residency.
Currently, PRM fellowship programs participate in the ERAS application cycle and NRMP match. There are currently 19 programs, with the number of participating programs and slots available fluctuating from year to year. Due to the interest in this field and demand for physiatrists specializing in pediatric rehabilitation medicine across the country, programs have made an effort to increase the number of available fellowship positions in past years. More information is available at the AAMC ERAS website and NRMP website.
I connected with Dr. Kelly Pham, who is currently completing her second year of pediatric rehabilitation fellowship at Seattle Children’s Hospital, to discuss her experiences pursuing PRM as a career and during fellowship.
Dr. Martin: What is one important reason you chose to pursue a pediatric rehabilitation fellowship?
Dr. Pham: I chose to pursue a pediatric rehabilitation medicine fellowship because PRM is what I want to do as a career, and I love working with children with disabilities. They are so robust and resilient in the face of disease and disability. They make me laugh, they make me smile. More than anything I found that I was very happy doing pediatric rehab and if there is one thing that is important to me in my career, it’s happiness. Another great thing about PRM is that it includes a lot of neurorehabilitation, which is another part of rehab that I find interesting. PRM is such a vast field because it includes everything in adult rehab plus child-specific diagnoses such as cerebral palsy.
Dr. Martin: If you could go back to the year you were a resident applying to fellowship, what piece of advice would you have liked to receive during that process?
Dr. Pham: Choose what is best for you and your family, if you have one. This was something that guided my decision and a piece of advice that I would give anyone. You both/all need to be happy and fulfilled in your careers and life.
Dr. Martin: What has been your favorite part of your fellowship? What about your career as a pediatric physiatrist so far?
Dr. Pham: My favorite part of fellowship is being able to learn from such an amazing group of mentors who are so truly invested in my education. I had not experienced that in my medical education until I came here and I am so grateful for it. I appreciate the collegiality across different specialties and the colleagues that I have met and provided care for patients with. As far as my career, I look forward to being able to provide care to children with CP and brain injuries, as those are my 2 biggest areas of interest.
Dr. Martin: What do you think your career will look like moving forward?
Dr. Pham: I picture myself providing mainly outpatient-based care of children with CP and brain injury, as well as acute management of brain injury in children in the hospital as a consultant. Though I don’t see myself as a primary inpatient provider, I certainly understand the importance of staying involved in that. I would like to find a researcher with similar interests who I can join forces with to be the clinical counterpart in collective research projects. I also look forward to providing the fine education that I was afforded in fellowship to residents, fellows, and medical students who come through our system. I’m excited to see where my career takes me!