Protecting Florida’s future
New fellowship focuses on helping abused children
Starting July 1, the department of pediatrics at the UF College of Medicine–Jacksonville will begin offering the first Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellowship Program in the state.
Child abuse pediatrics is a relatively recent area of subspecialization within the pediatric field. UF’s Jacksonville campus will become only the 23rd academic health center offering this training nationally.
The three-year fellowship will train pediatricians to effectively evaluate abused children; make recommendations for their care; lead community, regional and national advocacy; and function as medical experts within a collaborative child protection system that includes child welfare, law enforcement and judicial components. The fellowship will be a cooperative operation of the UF College of Medicine–Jacksonville, Wolfson Children’s Hospital and UF Health Jacksonville, and will function clinically as part of the Florida Department of Health’s Child Protection Team.
From a health care perspective, child abuse is a common condition of childhood and can have major health consequences, said Randell C. Alexander, M.D., Ph.D., a UF professor and chief of the division of child protection and forensic pediatrics in Jacksonville. This includes physical and sexual abuse, factitious illness (medical child abuse), neglect and psychological or emotional abuse.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified that adverse childhood experiences are the largest contributor to health care costs, morbidity and mortality of any health condition regardless of age,” said Alexander, who will be program director for the new fellowship.
The addition of the program to the Jacksonville academic health center will help build and maintain a much-needed pool of pediatricians who specialize in child abuse in North Florida.
“The Florida Child Protection Team statewide system is in need of these trained specialists, partly to replace those doing this type of work,” Alexander said.