Message from the Chair, James P. Nataro, MD PhD MBA

August 29, 2014 by

nataro2.phpAs I have said consistently since my arrival at UVA now four years ago, my personal vision for the Department of Pediatrics is excellence in all the missions, valued equally. Of the three main missions, clinical care, research, and education, excellence in education is often the most difficult to assess, and the easiest to overlook.

Excellence in education is best appreciated by its outcome: when UVA graduates outstanding young physicians, we meet our goal as a medical school. Similarly, the Department’s goal is to provide a solid pediatric exposure to UVA medical students, as well as to contribute to their general skills as physicians, incorporating all the competencies. We believe as pediatricians that we best embody medical humanism, family-centered care, and the medical home. Assuring that UVA graduates physicians strong in these areas is part of our special contribution.

Our Department is justifiably proud of our outstanding residents, who are knowledgeable and skilled in the resident competencies. They are outstanding physicians, and we proudly recruit them back to join our faculty. Certainly, with a program as strong as ours in reputation and fact, we can recruit outstanding graduating medical students, but I firmly believe that we provide for them an outstanding pediatric education.

Resident education is proudly owned by all our faculty, as we all contribute on a daily basis.  I am very proud to “own” this program on the institutional level, and I am proud of our faculty who make it happen.

While we are outstanding teachers and produce outstanding products, we still have some room to grow. Foremost, we have a responsibility to give our best efforts in education, and to hone our teaching skills continually, as we do our clinical skills. Educating the teachers is a mission most medical institutions overlook, but the opportunities are there. Second, we should look for new opportunities to provide more and better educational experiences. With the outstanding teachers we have in so many subspecialties, we are missing a golden opportunity to train more subspecialty fellows. This is my long term goal. Moreover, we should bring forward our most innovative ideas in the service of the programs we already own, including our resident and medical student programs, as well as the small but important cohort of graduate students we train in our laboratories. The institution has begun to recognize the importance of innovation in education, and we can lead the way in this area, as we do so many others.

We educate because it is critical to our role as an academic health center, but it is also fun and gratifying for the educator. Remember that an outstanding educator imprints the learner, but often also those whom that learner will someday teach, and the patients they will one day serve.

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