A medical fellowship is a period of post-graduate education wherein doctors train in a specialty such as oncology or cardiology. A pediatric fellowship, therefore, is a training opportunity for recently graduated pediatricians to complete further study in a specific field of medicine as it relates to children. For example, a pediatrician may opt to apply for a fellowship in pediatric oncology to specialize in childhood cancer treatment or research. Completion of a fellowship is not required for a physician to specialize, but is expected by both the medical community and patients. The additional education provides in-depth knowledge of a sub-specialty beyond normal educational requirements, providing the physician with increased experience with complex cases, surgeries, and treatment outcomes.
Typically, a pediatric fellowship is undertaken immediately after the completion of a residency program with a similar scope and specialty focus. A candidate who wishes to apply for a fellowship in pediatric urology, for example, typically needs residency experience in urology. While pediatricians typically apply for a fellowship after completing their residency, it is not unusual for a practicing physician to apply for a fellowship program. In such instances, the fellow candidate is generally considering a career move from clinical practice to research or vice versa. Various organizations provide matching services to assist in pairing candidates with appropriate fellowship programs, regardless of the candidates’ current career stage.
Candidates for a pediatric fellowship have numerous options in terms of fellowship programs and sub-specialty choices. Types of fellowship programs generally fit into either clinical or research categories, although both include some research aspects. Those candidates interested in the active research of childhood diseases and new treatments might choose research programs for fellowships. On the other hand, a candidate interested in treating childhood diseases might choose a pediatric infectious disease fellowship that focuses on clinical work. The primary goal of a pediatric fellowship is focused training in a select sub-specialty of pediatrics such as oncology, gastroenterology, cardiology, urology, infectious disease, allergy and immunology, adolescent medicine, and others.
Clinical pediatric fellowship programs typically encompass two to three years of training, clinical work, and independent research projects, depending on the specialty. For research fellowships, the duration of the program varies according to the specific research conducted. Certain organizations and institutions offer fellowship grants allowing pediatric specialists to study specific areas of pediatric medicine with the benefit of institutional funding for their research projects. In such cases, the fellowship may last for as long as the research project or grant allows.