Open Letter to Applicants
Dear Fellowship Applicants,
Congratulations on choosing Pediatric Endocrinology as a subspecialty! I hope you find what you are seeking as you embark on this next stage of your career journey. My name is Rebecca Schneider Aguirre and I recently finished my Pediatric Endocrinology fellowship here at IU School of Medicine (as well as IM Endocrinology fellowship, as I did a med/peds combined fellowship). I was invited to share some of my thoughts and experiences with you. The summary version is that I VERY HIGHLY recommend IU School of Medicine's Pediatric Endocrinology program at Riley Hospital for Children.
When I was looking for a fellowship program, I wanted a program that would have 1) a patient population consisting of “bread and butter” Endocrinology conditions as well as experience with the “zebras,” 2) faculty who are invested in teaching and guiding me to the next level, and 3) research opportunities. I can say that I have been very happy with my experience on all 3 counts.
Riley Hospital is the primary children’s hospital in the state of Indiana. As such, it has a large catchment area allowing for a wide exposure to various endocrinopathies. You will become VERY well-versed here in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital and acquired thyroid disease, short stature, diabetes and other dysglycemias (steroid-induced/stress/medication-related hyperglycemia, etc.), Turner Syndrome, and many others. However, I and other fellows have also treated (and diagnosed) children with Cushing disease, MEN1, MEN2A, acromegaly, PTEN mutations, Floating Harbor Syndrome, non-iodine avid papillary thyroid cancer, pseudohypoaldosteronism (genetic and transient), pseudohypoparathyroidism, osteopetrosis, McCune-Albright Syndrome, neonatal diabetes, and others. You will get experience with positive and borderline newborn screens and learn what to do. The training here has armed me with the knowledge needed to treat pediatric endocrine conditions and, even more importantly, the ability to investigate further when I need more information. Furthermore, your patients are truly your patients, but faculty are always available to guide you as needed (including for between clinic issues).
The faculty are interested in knowing the fellows and in helping each one to succeed. They come from a variety of backgrounds and thus you will learn variations of right ways to manage patients. Teaching happens informally one-on-one (or in small groups) as well as formal scheduled sessions. In addition to the Pediatric Endocrinology faculty, you also have access to the Internal Medicine endocrine faculty, who are also eager to help and teach. We have weekly joint research conferences, grand rounds, and bone conferences. Thus, you get different perspectives on endocrine problems through the ages.
With respect to research, whether you have a well-defined project/subject area or whether you are still exploring your options, you will find something here. You have access to multiple research mentors from basic science to clinical investigation, including a wide variety of areas. Faculty will also often ask you to participate in a project, review article, book review, etc., and are available to help you develop research ideas. Internal Department of Pediatrics funding opportunities exist for fellows as well. (One of my projects was based off a patient experience and entirely funded by one of these fellows’ grants.) Some fellows, such as myself, have chosen to pursue a primary research-based faculty position.
Indianapolis is a great city with multiple fun neighborhoods in different parts of town that all have their own unique feel (downtown, suburbs, trendy, etc.). The cost of living here is very affordable, which makes it easier to sample the array of restaurants, professional sport teams, theaters, museums, and family-friendly activities as well… The list goes on!
IU School of Medicine prepared me well for life after fellowship. Picking a program can be a difficult decision. If I could go back to the day I ranked programs, I wouldn't change a thing, as I feel that I had the resources and clinical experiences needed for my career goals and to be a well-rounded endocrinologist. I can also say that IU School of Medicine and Riley Hospital have become like a second family and I consider myself so fortunate to know and to have worked with this incredible group of faculty, fellows, and staff. I wish you luck with your journey! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.Sincerely,