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College of Medicine faces uncertainty in resident placement at All Childrens

Future pediatric students may have to go elsewhere for their residencies if the University’s deal with All Children’s Hospital (ACH) isn’t extended.

Founded in 1926, ACH in St. Petersburg has served as a pediatric teaching center for students in the College of Medicine (COM) seeking residency for the past 38 years.

However, Chair of Pediatrics at USF Robert Nelson said USF residents may no longer be welcomed at ACH once the hospital joins the Johns Hopkins Health System (JHHS), becoming the first hospital outside the Baltimore area under Johns Hopkins Medicine. Pediatrics residents currently complete their residency by training at Tampa General Hospital, ACH and two local clinics.

The decision to partner with JHHS, which was confirmed and celebrated in early April by the hospital with hopes of research advancements, has left many USF officials uncertain about the future of USF’s residency placement program. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the partnership didn’t include a cash transaction, but the prestige of Johns Hopkins was enough to make ACH accept.

ACH spokesman Roy Adams said the future of USF’s relationship with the hospital was uncertain, but no USF residents currently at the hospital would be expunged until their residency was complete.

Though USF’s contract with the hospital lasts until summer 2014, Adams said decisions must be made quickly as some residencies take several years to complete. Next year, Hopkins students will begin residencies at the hospital.

“Everybody involved would like to figure out sooner than later,” Adams said. “There are still ongoing meetings now that the Hopkins piece is in place. Corporately, we’re trying to work with USF to see how that partnership will evolve, but it’s certainly the intention of Hopkins and All Children’s to find a way for USF to be involved. The door is definitely not closed, but we don’t have the answer to that yet.”

Associate Dean for COM Charles Paidas said while many students are attracted to USF’s pediatrics program due to their ACH partnership, the primary focus of the conversations that take place between ACH and USF is on education.

“The vision for both institutions, both Hopkins/All Children’s and USF, is education – the education of our graduate medical education corps and bringing them out into society with both a political, research and educational mission,” he said. “The reason why having the benchmark of education is the most important platform above all of the issues is because that is why (COM) exists. All of our conversations have revolved around ensuring that we get nothing but the best quality of education for our residents.”

Though the decision to join with JHHS has been speculated since July, USF learned that the residency program may be threatened in late January, Nelson said.

“Our thought process has always been that our partnership with All Children’s Hospital should continue, and it’s best for our training programs for our residents,” he said.

Nelson said ACH, which typically hosts up to 50 USF residents at one time, accounts for the bulk of USF’s pediatric residency programs and is an asset to the University.

“(All Children’s Hospital) has a breadth and depth of types of patients who are hospitalized,” he said. “Kids who are hospitalized there receive top-rate care. We’d like to keep our residents’ experience a part of that.”

Paidas said in the event the contract is not renewed, COM is always looking for ways to create globally competitive physicians.

“A conversation we’re having right now is about creating pediatricians of the future that are not only trained in pediatrics, but also in public health, so they have an opportunity to look at rural medicine and pediatric medicine around the globe,” he said.

In addition to strengthening connections with the School of Public Health, Paidas said two to three times a year USF sends pediatric residents to Panama to care for children.

Nelson said meetings have been scheduled for the next few weeks among USF officials, ACH leadership and JHHS leaders to discuss the future of USF residences at ACH.