The UTMB Pediatric Residency Program is actively involved in the Gulf Coast Community in several ways. Advocacy includes advocating for children on an individual basis with each patient encounter to involvement in large-scale initiatives.
Residents have continuity clinic one half-day each week to not only enhance their clinical skill set but also connect with children of the community one-on-one. This occurs in all rotations with patient care involvement across clinical settings.
Within the program, advocacy experiences are also integrated into rotations.
Within the program, advocacy experiences are also integrated into rotations. Specifically, the Health and Development rotation involves time with toddlers at local daycare programs to illustrate normal development, the adolescent rotation includes involvement with the local teen clinic housed in Galveston’s Ball High School, and the Child Abuse rotation includes residents in legal aspects of cases with meetings in the Community Advocacy Center and trial hearings. The Senior Teaching Rotation and Community Pediatric rotations also send residents to local school districts to serve as physician liaisons for any health-needed services. Lastly, the formal Child Advocacy Rotation reviews opportunities for child advocacy from local to national level initiatives. The curriculum highlights how to get involved in advocacy, how social determinants of health affect children, and how to network with colleagues and organizations to further advocacy efforts in future practice.
Outside the clinical setting, residents have the opportunity to volunteer at local events such as the city’s Grand Kids’ Festival, annual triathlon, and UTMB’s Halloween Trunk-o-Treat Carnival. Additionally, starting in Summer 2022, the Residency program has formally partnered with the Smart Family Literacy Program.
The UTMB Pediatrics Residency Program and the SMART Family Literacy Program believe in the power of literacy in childhood development and life success. Childhood literacy skills, when developed and nurtured, have a positive impact on health, communication skills, cognitive development, school performance, and social skills.
Historically, education systems have provided literacy tools to develop these skills. However, in times of cost-cutting and shrinking budgets, school resources have lessened, affecting children’s access to these resources, especially children most vulnerable and affected by social determinants of health.
The partnership aims to provide high-quality books and instruction to children in elementary schools, childcare centers, and after-school programs in the gulf coast community. Residents deliver engaging readings about health to students. They follow each reading with a strategically designed child nutrition and physically active lesson to go along with the books donated.
With these experiences, we hope to highlight the importance of literacy to children as well as connect our resident physicians to the children they serve to better understand their backgrounds, challenges, and communication and learning styles. We will be placing diverse, educational books into the hands, classrooms, and homes of about 2,200 children throughout the surrounding communities.
We are honored to be part of this important initiative and look forward to working together for our community’s children and families.