I have always been bothered by comments I hear about avoiding being seen as a patient in a teaching hospital during the summer months, when residents are brand new. In my opinion, after having served as the floor teaching attending physician on Baird 5 (our inpatient pediatric unit) for yet another July, nothing could be further from the truth. I saw a quality of care that was simply extraordinary as attending physicians, residents, nurses, staff, students and most of all families joined together to coordinate care delivery with an attention to detail that is unmatched.
What made and continues to make our care so terrific? It begins with the quality of the residents we choose to come to our children’s hospital. We are so fortunate to have hundreds of applicants from all over the country apply for the seven residency positions we have each year. We interview almost a hundred finalists and then rank them in terms of not just their academics, but for their commitment to providing the highest-quality, child-friendly, family-centered care possible. We also make sure they are strong believers and practitioners in team-based interprofessional care, centered on a child and family. Perhaps most importantly, we select only those resident applicants who during their interviews and visit to see our institution, understand the culture of care upon which we operate our children’s hospital and really want to be a part of it.
When you have selected a group of residents like the ones we are fortunate to have here, and then combine them with our top-notch nurses and staff throughout our inpatient and outpatient units, you get a summer of superb patient care that is just as good as the care you will receive in fall, winter, and spring – thus myth-busting the assumption that summer is a bad time to be a patient – at least at Vermont Children’s Hospital.
And the even better news, after chatting with physicians in other adult health care services at the UVM Medical Center who also find the care during the summer to be outstanding, is that what I have just described is not just specific to our children’s hospital but our entire organization. Thus, the summer months at Vermont Children’s Hospital and at the UVM Medical Center overall have not been months to avoid receiving care, but a time to truly display the team-based care of which we are so proud.
Lewis First, M.D., is chief of pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WPTZ Channel 5. Visit the First with Kids video archives.