Training Future Child Health Leaders

Resident Spotlight: A Clinical and Community Focus

Pediatric residents from the UConn School of Medicine spend three years at Connecticut Children’s honing their clinical skills during rotations in ambulatory, inpatient, and subspecialty care. All of our residents also learn the importance of promoting health and well-being by taking part in a community longitudinal elective. In addition, those who have a particular passion for advocacy are able to enroll in the Resident Education in Advocacy and Community Health (REACH) pathway, which is one of five pathways residents can choose from to align with their career goals. In the REACH pathway, residents work closely with experts in the fields of population health, community research, policy formation and social innovation.

Amritha PatelAmritha Patel, MD, now in her third year in the residency program, is the first resident to complete the revised REACH pathway, which launched in its re-designed, comprehensive format in 2018 under the leadership of Dr. Patricia Garcia. Dr. Patel shares her thoughts on the pathway in this interview with Advancing Kids.

Advancing Kids: Tell us about your career aspirations.

Dr. Patel: I am currently interested in primary care pediatrics with a focus on community pediatrics. Ultimately, I want to focus on making a global impact, ensuring that children have the best quality of life in their homes and communities.

Advancing Kids: Why did you choose the REACH pathway?

Dr. Patel: I was first interested in REACH when I was exposed to the community longitudinal elective (CLE) as part of our residency curriculum. I participated in teaching refugee families about various health topics, which gave me a better understanding of the communities around Hartford. I wanted to learn more about developing these types of programs, so Dr. Patricia Garcia, who supervises and designs the CLE activities, introduced me to the REACH program.

Advancing Kids: What courses did you take as part of the REACH pathway?

Dr. Patel: I took an introduction to advocacy in medicine course, which exposed me to various types of advocacy. I learned about the legislative process and how to communicate with state officials about topics pertaining to the pediatric population. I met with community partners regarding program development with the goal of optimizing the quality of life for the patients we care for in the hospital. I was able to practice communicating through various forms of media to inform the public about health-related topics. This year, I will take an 8-week course to implement what I have learned and start developing a community outreach program.

Advancing Kids: Tell us about three of your most memorable experiences in the REACH pathway.

Dr. Patel: I had the opportunity to practice doing mock TV interviews with the media relations team. This gave me valuable experience and useful tips that made me more comfortable with public speaking. Another activity involved writing an op-ed piece that is currently in the process of getting published in a local newspaper. Lastly, I was able to write a letter to Senator Richard Blumenthal regarding lead poisoning in Connecticut, which allowed me to apply the knowledge I learned about the legislative process.

Advancing Kids: What advice do you have for other residents considering this pathway?

Dr. Patel: I think any resident who wants to spend part of their career doing work that engages the community should enroll in this pathway. I think there is a perception that subspecialty or acute care pathways are completely independent of advocacy, but I have learned that so many of our attending physicians from all specialties are working with legislative and community partners to promote childhood health.

Learn more about our Pediatric Residency Program here.

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