Innovation and Excellence: Highlights of UF Pediatrics 2012

A Year-in-Review from Scott Rivkees, M.D., Chair of Pediatrics

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to update you on tremendous progress and productivity for the University of Florida Department of Pediatrics. We have achieved much over the past year and we can proudly reflect on and share the pride of accomplishment.

The major goals for the past academic year were to:

  1. enhance trainee education and recruitment
  2. grow our discovery and research base
  3. to make us a patient-, family-, and physician-friendly program

In addition, it was our aim to expand and develop clinical programs, modernize our facilities, enhance our national reputation and play a leading role in academic pediatrics in Florida and nationally.

It is fantastic that we were able to achieve each of these goals.

Recently renovated Unit 42 in the Shands Hospital for Children

Reflecting on our tremendous programmatic improvements and the strength of our department, the University of Florida Department of Pediatrics and Shands Hospital for Children has been recognized as one of the best children’s hospitals in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. Seven of our pediatric subspecialties were recognized as among the top in the country. In fact, when one looks at how our programs fared collectively, there was no hospital our size or smaller that ranked higher than the University of Florida and Shands. This includes many prestigious institutions including Yale University, Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Johns Hopkins and Stanford. Thus, the nation is seeing and appreciating all that we are doing.

Over the past year, 18 new faculty members have joined the Department of Pediatrics in different divisions, including General Pediatrics, Hematology/Oncology, Endocrinology and the Child Health Research Institute. Each of the new faculty members who has joined our department brings wonderful and special talents that make our programs stronger.

Clinical Accomplishments

Clinically, we have had amazing growth. Halfway through the fiscal year, our department has seen more than 4,000 children in our outpatient facilities, more than at the same time last year. Also, 250 more children have been hospitalized than the same time last year.

Pediatric Specialties at Shands Medical Plaza
Entrance Before Renovations
Pediatric Specialties at Shands Medical Plaza
Newly Renovated Entrance

We have made many changes to our clinical operations. Shands Medical Plaza is the site where more than 50,000 children who require specialty care are seen each year. We have instituted and developed a centralized referral center. Physicians can now call one number (1-877-KIDS-R-UF) to schedule appointments.

We have changed the ways that families are greeted so that every child and parent feels special when they are seen. The wait time for new appointments is one to two weeks for nearly all of our specialties. We are especially gratified for the support of the faculty group practice in the College of Medicine for supporting the beautiful renovations of the facilities that make our care center look like a world-class facility.

Pediatric Specialties at Shands Medical Plaza Waiting Area Before Renovations
Pediatric Specialties at Shands Medical Plaza
Newly Renovated Waiting Area

Over the past year we have strengthened our ties with our neighbors. Rather than have children come to us, we are now going to them, as we established new community-based clinics where patients with subspecialty needs can be seen. These new clinics are in Lake City and Ocala. Over the next year, additional satellite centers will be developed.

A major milestone for the University of Florida Department of Pediatrics is the creation of Centers of Excellence. These centers are regional and national care programs where boys and girls from our state, across the country and overseas can come to have questions answered that were not answered elsewhere. Centers of Excellence programs are now established for children with asthma, autism, Turner syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, neuromuscular disorders, rheumatologic disorders, epilepsy, sarcomas, as well as individuals who require specialized cardiac imaging and international travel.

We are also very proud of the reactivation of the pediatric liver transplant program. Our lung transplant program is active and our heart transplant program is among the busiest and best in the country.

We also recognize that health care in America is changing. Through the Affordable Care Act, more children will have access to health care than ever before. Our pediatrics department is uniquely suited to provide care for children with general and subspecialty health care needs. We will continue to shape our department to serve the children of our community and Florida. We also continue to play a leading role in our state and nationally to advocate for children and their special needs, as well.

UF Pediatrics in the News

Over the past year, the Department of Pediatrics has made a major emphasis to making ourselves more visible. We created a new departmental website and a initiated a newsletter, The Pulse of Pediatrics, which is distributed to more than 1,500 individuals each month.

We are very proud that our department members’ accomplishments have been the subject of numerous press releases, as well as TV and newspaper features.

Innovation in Pediatric Education

Our educational programs continue to thrive and are national trendsetters in trainee education. House officer training involves active learning styles. Technology is incorporated into residency education through an iPad program. Morning Report format features active learning processes that feature clinical cases, research exposure and analysis of new discoveries for our field.

University of Florida Pediatrics developed specialized nighttime curriculum that is being adapted by residency programs across the country. A special curriculum has been developed to allow residents to cover all the content in major pediatric textbooks over the course of their training.

We are very pleased that we have developed one of the most unique residency programs in the country through the creation of specialized residency tracks. Five different tracks allow trainees to focus on educational pathways that meet their career goal. These tracks include the Primary Care/Medical Home track for individuals re-entering general pediatrics. There is a Medical Education track, which provides an opportunity for certificate of education through the University of Florida College of Education. The Global Health track provides opportunities for trainees to serve pediatric populations in other countries. The Public Health track is for individuals interested in advocacy and legislative interest. Through this track, individuals will obtain a certificate in public health. The Research track is for individuals who are considering subspecialty careers. This track affords time for research in either clinical, translation or basic science. We offer the American Board of Pediatrics approved Integrated Research Pathway that allows trainees 11 months of devoted research time in their training.

Our fellowship programs continue to expand. We are pleased that we now offer fellowship/residency training in Pediatric Neurology. We are also considering the development of new training programs in other pediatric subspecialties.

The University of Florida is especially proud by the high proportion of medical students who are entering pediatrics. Nineteen, fourth-year medical students will be entering pediatrics. Our department receives very high marks for the pediatric experience by medical students. A new Bench-to-Bedside seminar series has gone a long way in showing medical students the science behind the patients that they care for.

Discovery and Research

Discovery and research is part of our department’s soul. We have seen tremendous growth in our research program and many accolades were received by our faculty. Our numbers of grant submissions have gone up by nearly 50 percent over the past year, and funding from the National Institutes of Health has increased by 35 percent over the past year. Our awards from non‑National Institutes of Health foundations have increased by 25 percent over the past year, as well.

The Department of Pediatrics recognizes that we need to invest heavily in our research programs. With the help of Children’s Miracle Network, the Department of Pediatrics allocated nearly $1.5 million in research seed funding over the past year. The department views this as a major investment in the health of children for the future.

Members of our faculty received prestigious awards over the past year. Roland Herzog, Ph.D., was recognized for the Research in Basic Science by the University of Florida College of Medicine. Barry Byrne, M.D., Ph.D., was named the Powell Center Chair of the University of Florida College of Medicine. David Weinstein, M.D., received the prestigious international humanitarian award, the Order of the Smile.

Community Partners

We recognize that we cannot build a word-class program alone. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have community partners dedicated to improving the lives and well-being of children in our area. The Sebastian Ferrero Foundation provided a $1 million gift to support the construction of a new children’s hospital entrance. Children’s Miracle Network contributed more than $1.7 million to pediatric programs. Stop Children’s Cancer endowed the $1 million Bonnie R. Freeman Clinical Trials fund for children with malignancies. The Fry Family Foundation made a gift of more than $1 million for research of glycogen storage diseases. Numerous other individuals have supported our department programs, too, including John and Jill Kampfe, Teresa and Terry Polistina and the University of Florida Players Network.

The dance marathon at the University of Florida, which benefits Children’s Miracle Network, will take place on April 13-14, 2013. Our department will continue to play an active role in this event. Learn more about this event.

I am grateful to the hundreds of individuals who have pulled together to propel the University of Florida Department of Pediatrics and Shands Hospital for Children to the upper echelon of children’s hospital in the United States. We have done a tremendous amount over the past year, and we will continue to build on all that we have done collectively. We look forward to even better days ahead for pediatric care in the state of Florida, the University of Florida Department of Pediatrics and Shands Hospital for Children.

Thank you,

Scott A. Rivkees, M.D.
Nemours Eminent Scholar
Professor and Chair