The “fit” of a Pediatric Gastroenterology fellowship program was the most important aspect on my list when applying for fellowship. I found that “fit” at Riley Hospital for Children, and I think that speaks mountains about the people in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition. I immediately clicked with the fellows, and appreciated that they ‘took their work seriously, but did not take themselves too seriously.’ I was warmly greeted by Dr. McFerron, the Program Director, and during my interview, I felt as if I was being welcomed into a family - from Kori, the Program Coordinator, to Dr. Molleston, the Division Chief. It was an excellent interview day, and I feel very lucky to have matched to such a wonderful place.
Throughout the last two years of fellowship training, that feeling of family has continued. Fellowship - and medical training in general - can be hard at times. There is just no way around that. At Riley, my co-fellows and my staff have taken care of me, and I have tried to take care of them as well. A shining example of this was during March and April 2020, my co-fellows stepped up to cover and trade my call weekends and on-service dates so that I, immunosuppressed due to Crohn’s disease, could work from home while COVID-19 cases were at their highest. I am surrounded by a special group of people here at Riley.
Let us not forget the quality of the training! After two years, I feel well equipped to handle almost any patient in the hospital or clinic setting from simple to complex. I like to think my endoscopy skills are quite good for my level of training, and I benefit from sub-subspecialists in various areas of the field –inflammatory bowel disease, hepatology, pancreatology, intestinal failure, eosinophilic disorders, motility, and celiac disease to name a few.
I have also found an excellent team of mentors for my research. I did not begin fellowship as a particularly “research inclined” individual. Fortunately, I found the perfect project in the realm of Clinical Informatics with one of the leaders in the field, Dr. Billy Bennett. With his guidance, I am not only in the process of creating high-level research, but am also developing skills that will be very useful throughout my career.
In summary, the people make the program. Humble experts in specific areas of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, delightful administrative staff, and excellent nursing support (shout out to my nursing team!) made Riley Hospital for Children the right place for me. Indianapolis is a great city with lots to offer for my wife and young children, and we have made lifelong friends here. There are many programs that can offer excellent fellowship training, but I think few are as wonderful to be a part of as Riley.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Ashley Dummer is a Communications Specialist in the Department of Pediatrics. She has worked in Pediatrics since graduating with her degree from Indiana University.