The first pediatric-training program of its kind in the nation, the UC Davis Community Partnerships with Pediatricians for Healthy Children provides medical residents a grassroots experience in disadvantaged neighborhoods struggling to create the healthiest and safest environments for their children.
"Physicians have a greater responsibility to their patients beyond telling them what will keep them healthy," said UC Davis pediatrician and program developer Richard Pan. "For example, we traditionally tell children with weight problems to eat healthy foods and get more exercise, and then send them on their way. To be more effective, we need to be in our patients' communities and neighborhoods working with families to help find ways for the children to get good food and exercise. Maybe it's helping to develop community vegetable gardens or parks where children and parents can play safely."
The cutting-edge program, based on an existing child-advocacy effort at UC Davis and several Sacramento-area neighborhood collaboratives, will be expanded and formalized through a $1.8 million grant from the New York-based Dyson Foundation's Anne E. Dyson Community Pediatrics Training Initiative. The Dyson Initiative funds programs that will develop a new generation of pediatricians with skills and knowledge of community-based medicine, advocacy and the capacity to improve the health of all children in their communities.
The UC Davis program will link medical residents with community collaboratives, establish neighborhood health clinics for children and help medical residents develop a broad understanding of how communities work together.
UC Davis medical residents will be working with five community collaboratives in local neighborhoods, including: Children First - Flats Network in midtown Sacramento, Cordova Community Collaborative for Healthy Children and Families in Rancho Cordova, Hagginwood Community Collaborative near Hagginwood Elementary School in North Sacramento, Tahoe/Colonial Collaborative near the UC Davis Medical Center and the Stockton Boulevard business district, and the Yuba Community Collaborative for Healthy Children in Yuba County near Marysville.
"This partnership with grassroots community groups is what makes our program unique," said Pan, an assistant professor of pediatrics and associate director of residency training at UC Davis.
Each UC Davis pediatrician-in-training will become a member of one of the neighborhood groups, working with other members to identify and find solutions to health and well-being issues in those areas. The groups typically include community residents, students, professionals, business owners, volunteer associations and government agencies.
Through the UC Davis child-advocacy program, medical residents contributed to the community groups' goals by developing heart-healthy and nutrition workshops in elementary schools, a health-tips column for a community newsletter and a clinic for homeless children in Oak Park.
"One of the goals of this program is to help our new doctors understand that what we, as physicians, think may be the most important problems to address for a child's well-being may not be what a neighborhood sees as the most pressing issues facing its children," said UC Davis pediatric oncologist Daniel West, assistant pediatrics professor and director of the medical school's pediatric residency training program. "We hope to transform medical residents' perceptions of advocacy from a traditional paternalistic 'voice' for children to an equal partner who works with and contributes to the community effort to address what the groups collectively view as the most important."
The community partnership program also will launch community health clinics in each of the neighborhoods over the next three years in which medical residents will attend to children's basic health needs, including immunizations and other preventive care.
"There are many, many children who don't receive even the most basic of medical care," said Arnold Gold, a Yuba City pediatrician who is the founder of the Yuba Sutter School-based Health Clinic. "Our free clinics in Marysville and Yuba City have tried to address that problem, and now, with the addition of UC Davis medical residents, I am excited that we may be able to add services for children with asthma or attention deficit disorder." Gold, a clinical professor at UC Davis, will lead efforts to recruit other practicing pediatricians to help mentor the medical residents and teach the program's curricula.
The Community Partnerships with Pediatricians for Healthy Children is a collaboration of the UC Davis Children's Hospital and the School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics; five community collaboratives from the Sierra Health Foundation Community Partnerships for Healthy Children Initiative; the American Academy of Pediatrics Community Access To Child Health (CATCH) in California; Sacramento ENRICHES (Engaging Neighborhood Resources for Improving Children's Health, Education and Safety), and the Public Health Institute (PHI) Center for Collaborative Planning.
UC Davis Children's Hospital is a children's hospital within a hospital, a designation granted by the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions to UC Davis Medical Center for providing a wide array of general and specialty pediatric services, as well as medical research.
Editor's Note: A companion news release, issued by the Dyson Foundation, can be found at http://news.