Medical school starts child abuse program in pediatrics dept.

| Contributing Reporter

The pediatrics department at Washington University’s School of Medicine will begin a new child abuse pediatric subspecialty program under the direction of Robert Paschall at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in July 2010.

According to Paschall, a national request for a child abuse subspecialty was presented to the American Board of Pediatrics four to five years ago but was turned down. The request was resubmitted in 2007 and approved.

Jamie Spurrier, a current chief resident at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, will be the first and only fellow beginning the three-year program next July.

Spurrier successfully requested the fellowship upon hearing that the American Academy of Pediatrics had decided there was enough interest in the problem of child abuse and that Dr. Paschall was part of a group that was advocating for the subspecialty’s initiation.

“We’ve had unofficial training programs [for child abuse], [but] there hasn’t been an official fellowship,” Spurrier said.

Spurrier said she did a rotation as an intern under Paschall and realized then that she was interested in researching child abuse.

The subspecialty program will award fellows a certificate of special qualification in child abuse and requires fellows to have completed medical school and three years of general pediatrics residency.

The program will include classes in biostatistics, epidemiology and biomechanics. Fellows will also design a research project and learn about how to interview children. Subspecialties will also be included on a rotating basis and include pediatric radiology and pediatric and adolescent gynecology.

Additionally, fellows will learn from physiologists and psychologists who specialize in helping victims of sexual and physical abuse, and psychologists who perform perpetrator therapy. They will also acquire clinical experience through interacting with children who have been burned, performing consultation at a special abuse management clinic and conducting sexual abuse evaluations in the emergency room.

Although professors have not yet been selected, Paschall said classes will be drawn from the medical school as well as the law school, and will be open to other undergraduate students at the University.

The certificate and the costs of the fellowship, including a stipend, will come from the School of Medicine.

“This year [we] will have one [fellow] for three years. Ultimately, when the fellowship develops, there will be a new fellow each year,” Paschall said. “The major advantage is that the fellows begin to teach each other.”

Other children’s hospitals that will join with universities to include a child abuse subspecialty program include Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Denver and Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.