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Cara Lichtenstein

Children’s Community Health Track receives prestigious APA Teaching Program Award

Cara Lichtenstein

“As a community-focused health system, one of our central missions is to train a new generation of residents to create successful community partnerships and integrate public health concepts into the everyday practice of medicine to improve the health of underserved communities,” says Cara Lichtenstein, M.D., MPH.

The Children’s National Community Health Track (CHT) has been recognized by the Academic Pediatric Association with its prestigious Teaching Program Award. The honor was made public at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting on May 7, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario. The purpose of the award is to foster interest in the teaching of general pediatrics by giving national recognition to an outstanding general pediatric program. The PAS selection committee chose Children’s CHT for demonstrating excellence in educational teaching methods, acceptance by the community, its adaptability and the outstanding quality of residents trained in the program.

“As a community-focused health system, one of our central missions is to train a new generation of residents to create successful community partnerships and integrate public health concepts into the everyday practice of medicine to improve the health of underserved communities,” says Cara Lichtenstein, M.D., MPH and director of Children’s Community Health Track.

Children’s CHT focuses on underserved populations and the development of skills in health policy, advocacy and community healthcare delivery. Residents spend their outpatient time learning to use public health techniques to identify and address community health needs, becoming a physician advocate and learning more about the sociocultural determinants of health and health disparities. Training for CHT is integrated with Children’s overall pediatrics residency program to ensure excellence in attainment of clinical skills, and to allow residents the opportunity to work with Children’s top-rated primary care, specialty and hospital-based physicians and care teams.

This is the third time in recent years that Children’s National has been honored by the Academic Pediatric Association. In 2013, Mary Ottolini, M.D., MPH and vice chair of medical education was recognized for her leadership of Children’s Master Teacher Leadership Development program. In 2009, Denice Cora-Bramble, M.D., MBA accepted the APA Health Care Delivery Award for the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health at Children’s National.

Children’s offers up to eight residency positions each year designated as Community Health Track positions. The goals of the track are centered on the core competencies of community pediatrics as described by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Primarily to train residents to:

  • Grasp the breadth of diversity inherent in the pediatric population and be familiar with health-related implications of cultural beliefs and practices of groups represented in the community.
  • Recognize the role of the pediatrician in identifying needs and facilitating access to resources for patients, families and communities.
  • Be aware of the risks to health and barriers to care for underserved children in Washington, D.C., and demonstrate skill in improving access to continuous comprehensive health maintenance.
  • Appreciate key issues related to the pediatrician’s role and interactions with local community agencies and advocacy groups.
  • Value the role of schools and childcare settings in supporting the educational and psychosocial development of children and adolescents.
  • Apply key principles about health promotion and disease prevention for children and adolescents over a set period of time.
  • Observe, interpret and report observations about the communities in which they serve.

The fundamental difference in this track compared to the more traditional Categorical Track lies in the outpatient experiences that occur in all three years of training. The CHT utilizes these outpatient experiences to help residents to attain a well-rounded community pediatrics experience.

“Washington, D.C. is an incredibly diverse community with large numbers of vulnerable children and families from D.C. and all over the world. Given our location in our nation’s capital, residents and faculty have the unique opportunity to work with national professional and advocacy organizations that are influencing policy – both locally and nationally – as it relates to children, families and health care,” says Mark Weissman, M.D., chief of general pediatrics and community health at Children’s National. “We’re thrilled to be recognized with the Academic Pediatric Association’s Teaching Program Award and grateful to Dr. Lichtenstein for her leadership and commitment to improving the health of D.C.’s children and training the next generation of pediatricians and advocates.”

Healthy Homes, Healthy Futures program receives national recognition

Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Activation Summit in Little Rock, Arkansas

Children’s National expert Kofi Essel (far right) was one of the Children’s National physicians recognized as a health care pioneer at the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Activation Summit in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Children’s National Health System physicians were recognized as health care pioneers at the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Activation Summit in Little Rock, Arkansas, in early April for their creation of “Healthy Homes, Healthy Futures,” an obesity-centered home visitation curriculum for pediatric residents at Children’s National. The program received the first-ever Innovation Award for Health Care Provider Training and Education and was named the most innovative program for current health care professionals.

The award recognizes leading health professional training programs that promote nutrition, physical education and obesity counseling education to its students. Co-collaborators of the program include: Children’s National experts Kofi Essel, M.D., FAAP, Sirisha Yalamanchi, M.D., FAAP and Cara Lichtenstein, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, as well as Erin Hysom, R.D.N., M.P.H., of the Maryland State Department of Education.

According to Dr. Essel, the team created the program to address the lack of knowledge providers have of the patient’s home and neighborhood environment, which is critical to understanding the barriers that families face when struggling with obesity.

Clinton Foundation's Innovation Award for Health Care Provider Training and Education award

Dr. Essel accepted the Innovation Award for Health Care Provider Training and Education on behalf of his team presented by former President Bill Clinton.

“Traditional medical training has been ineffective in equipping the next generation of providers with practical ways to manage or prevent obesity,” says Dr. Essel. “We created our program to address this issue and focus on the underlying sociocultural factors that are associated with obesity.”

To better equip providers, the program’s home visitation curriculum offers a unique approach to improve residents’ understanding of the social determinants of health, unpack how these underlying barriers can lead to obesity and strengthen critical goal-setting and obesity-management skills.

Dr. Essel and his team proudly accepted the award presented by former President Bill Clinton. Ultimately, Dr. Essel hopes to influence a national narrative around obesity, build empathy and reduce stigma toward families through immersion training, empower patients to improve their own health and help providers gain confidence in communicating about and managing obesity through the family context.