Cottage Health is launching a new pediatric residency program in July, teaching newly graduated medical students both inpatient and outpatient pediatric care while helping to meet a critical need for more local pediatric staff.
dr. Steven Barkley states that with its new residency program, Cottage Health has a long-term vision for local pediatrics. “We help develop positions for the doctors we need,” he says. (Cottage Health photo)
“We are very excited about this program,” said Dr. Steve Barkley, a neonatal medicine specialist at Cottage Health, told Noozhawk. “We think medical education is part of what we should be doing.
“Doctors, especially practicing doctors, have a lot to offer and a lot to learn. I think this is a great gift for the residents, but it’s also a great gift for the Cottage family and the community.”
Starting in July, Cottage will select six recently graduated medical students for the three-year residency program at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. As those six complete their first year of residency, the nonprofit health care system will elect six more residents.
When the program is fully operational in 2025, there will be 18 pediatric residents.
Barkley said Cottage has already received more than 600 applications, of which a “significant proportion” are international applications.
He said Cottage is looking for candidates who are especially committed to the idea of supporting the health of the underprivileged youth population.
“We’re looking for people who really see this pediatric training as part of their calling,” he said. “This is a shared ethic of all the pediatricians I work with, which is that people are truly committed to the idea of supporting children and their health, regardless of their ability to pay.
“I really want to tap into that, that feeling that runs through the culture of our pediatric community.”
A pediatric residency is a mix of both inpatient and outpatient work, Barkley explained. On the intramural side, residents will make rotations between, among other things, the pediatric ward, the pediatric intensive care units and neonatal ICUs.
“Residents will do that several times over the three years, with each successive year they will become more sophisticated and take on more responsibility for inpatient care,” he said.
On the outpatient side, Cottage Health has partnered with Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics to teach residents “the gambit of outpatient pediatric work and primary care,” Barkley added.
What’s unique about the residency program, he said, is that Cottage Health is so embedded in the community that it shows the connection between what’s happening on the outpatient side and the clinical side.
All residents will do focus rotations in areas such as developmental behavioral pediatrics and cardiology, and residents will have some flexibility over which focus they choose.
“We spend a lot of time creating a specialized curriculum for each resident, focused on what they want to do,” Barkley said. “If they are truly committed to working for a primary care environment for the underprivileged, we will increase exposure to Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics or one of our other partners.”
One of the rotations in the residency program is the pediatric community rotation, which involves other community social partners involved with children, such as counseling services and law enforcement, Barkley said.
“We are increasingly recognizing that a lot of the things that have a profound impact on children’s health are not really medical, but social,” he said. “One of the things that excites me most about the program is that Santa Barbara offers a really robust community that is really invested in the normal development of children.”
Cottage is hopeful that the residency program will contribute to the local Santa Barbara physician pool, as the experience has been with some of Cottage’s other residency programs, Barkley said.
“It’s really part of our commitment to ensuring the health of the greater regional community for years to come,” he said. “We help develop positions for the doctors we need.”