Indiana School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics is no stranger to employing successful women. The department’s faculty is currently 51% women and, of those women, they make up 54% of clinical track faculty. With this week marking the final week of Women’s History Month, this is a great opportunity to highlight some of these women and the incredible work they do for our organization, community, and for the field of medicine with their innovative research.
Mary Ciccarelli, MD, started her tenure with Indiana University School of Medicine by completing her residency here in 1986. She followed her passion for outpatient primary care by working for a med-peds practice in Maryland and for a managed care group in Wisconsin for several years. Ciccarelli returned to Indiana in 1991 to become the physician coordinator for Wishard’s new North Arlington Community Health Center.
By 1993, Ciccarelli became the IUSM Medicine-Pediatric Residency Director and completed a primary care commuting fellowship at Michigan State University. She participated in program development building the competency curriculum, introducing duty hour limits, and growing the program from 12 to 56 residents. During this time, she was also excited to be a member of and, subsequently, led the newly developing Medicine Pediatric Program Directors Association.
By 2007, Ciccarelli was offered the role of Vice Chair for Education in Pediatrics where she worked to expand the IUSM pediatric fellowship programs and key faculty as physician educators. Ciccarelli shared, “Managing the education needs of a big department was a big task made easier by all the great members of the education team.”
Around that same time, Ciccarelli launched the Center for Youth and Adults with Conditions of Childhood, also known as CYACC. This program, funded by the Indiana Department of Health, serves over 2,000 youth primarily between the ages of 11 and 22, as a transition support program to assist in moving from pediatric to adult health care. Although the program has been beneficial for many of Indiana’s youth and families, Ciccarelli sees more potential for improvement within IU Health systems to facilitate better youth to adult transitions. “I have learned so much about transdisciplinary teamwork and family-centered care through our collaborations. Despite 14 years of effort, there is plenty more work to be done,” she said.
Since 2018, Ciccarelli has transitioned from medical education to a stronger focus on caring for people with disabilities by leading several projects through Medicaid and IU School of Medicine. The projects promote early diagnosis of autism in statewide primary care practices and care coordination for children with medical complexity, with Indiana participating in a 10-state care coordination collaborative. Ciccarelli exclaimed, “The increasing emphasis on creating systems of care that address social, as well as, medical complexity is a worthwhile endeavor!”
Ciccarelli has been the recipient of two Teaching Excellence Recognition awards, the Excellence in Faculty Mentoring award, and the Alumni Glenn W. Irwin Award for Distinguished Faculty Service, all through IU School of Medicine. She was also recently named the Morris Green Professor of Pediatrics. This was a special moment for her, Ciccarelli commented, “It brings up rich memories to think of the impact that Dr. Green had on my career—having a vision to start Med Peds here at IU, pushing me to do more to improve our department, and forming my ideas about family-centered, two-generational pediatric care.”
Dr. Ciccarelli grew up in New York City in a large Irish-Italian family with 42 first cousins. She is a mother to four adult children with two grandchildren. She often takes trips to both the East and West coasts to visit them. Ciccarelli enjoys volunteering for Special Olympics of Indiana and the Village of Merici. She commented, “The lessons I learn from the folks at SOI and Merici are much richer than any award, particularly how to strive to live one’s best, most authentic life.”