The Division of Pediatric Cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is located at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and is part of the Heart Center. The fellowship program has been in existence since 1964 and has a tradition in fellowship education with a commitment to train physicians for academic careers. Fellows work closely with an expanding number of faculty members in each subsection of cardiology. The program accepts three fellows each year for this 3-year fellowship, with the expectation that fellows will be eligible for certification in pediatric cardiology by the American Board of Pediatrics upon completion of training.
There are additional opportunities for advanced/fourth-year fellowship training in advanced cardiac non-invasive imaging, cardiomyopathy/heart transplantation, and cardiac critical care.
The categorical fellowship is organized into thirteen four-week block rotations, with most of the clinical rotations in the first and second years. Clinical rotations consist of noninvasive imaging/echocardiography, cardiac catheterization, electrophysiology, inpatient/consult, inpatient/critical care, as well as additional rotations in cardiomyopathy/heart transplant and adult congenital cardiology/subspecialty clinics. The rotations are adjusted to fit the needs of trainees' individualized learning plans (ILP) and are tailored to allow for the fulfillment of requisite training guidelines and fellow career aspirations.
The pediatric cardiology fellowship program fosters the development of strong clinical skills and independent decision-making. Fellowship training encompasses inpatient and outpatient experiences, with an emphasis on echocardiography/noninvasive imaging, clinical electrophysiology, heart failure/transplantation and research activities. The echocardiography/noninvasive imaging experience consists of transthoracic, transesophageal and fetal echocardiography, as well as cardiac MRI and CT. Invasive and non-invasive electrophysiology testing and exercise testing is incorporated into the electrophysiology rotation. The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago features a busy cardiothoracic surgery service, which consistently ranks in the upper echelon nationally for surgical outcomes and is the only pediatric cardiac transplant center in Illinois. The dedicated 36-bed Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit, which includes the CICU and the Inpatient Cardiac Unit, promises an intense, educational, and rewarding experience in caring for patients with all forms of heart disease.
During the first fellowship year, cardiology fellows rotate formally through several major areas: inpatient consult service, cardiac intensive care (CICU), electrophysiology, echocardiography, and cardiac catheterization. The second year is devoted to improving clinical skills, as well as gaining exposure to research, although research and academic pursuits commence as early as the first year of training. The third year provides an opportunity to continue research work while assuming further clinical responsibilities. Additional experiences are available in cardiac surgery, cardiac pathology, exercise and pulmonary function testing, interventional catheterization, fetal echocardiography, advanced imaging, preventive cardiology, and electrophysiology. The clinical training experience can be modified depending on individual career goals and past performance. For example, with program director approval, a fellow interested in specializing in non-invasive imaging may organize elective time to pursue additional training at Lurie Children's or Northwestern Memorial Hospital and reduce time spent in other areas. Likewise, additional time can be allotted to research and academic endeavors.
- Inpatient rotations allow fellows to assume a consultative role for other hospital services, including the NICU, PICU, and Emergency Department and also a front-line provider role in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU). The former focuses on the care of non-critically ill inpatients and critically ill patients with primary non-cardiac diagnoses, honing cardiac interpretation and management skills and allowing for collaborative interactions and learning with other subspecialties. The CICU rotation focuses on the care of critically ill cardiac patients, including pre-operative neonates, post-operative patients and those requiring mechanical support (e.g. ECMO or ventricular assist devices).
- An outpatient rotation elective allows fellows to experience a month practicing with three separate groups of physicians (academic, outreach, and private practice) at non-hospital-based sites. The fellows learn and discuss issues involved in operating an outpatient office and improve their outpatient management skills.
- Fellows spend at least one month in the Adult Congenital Heart Clinics including time spent in the Connective Tissue Disorders and Hyperlipidemia clinics.
- In the noninvasive imaging rotations, fellows begin with a focus on transthoracic echocardiography, initially through hands-on scanning experience and moving toward more advanced imaging technique and echocardiographic interpretation. Cardiac MRI and CT are introduced during the first year with more exposure throughout the fellowship. Fellows participate in transesophageal echocardiography after achieving competency in transthoracic echocardiography with a similar approach to fetal echocardiography.
- During the cardiac catheterization rotation, fellows are exposed to all aspects of diagnostic and interventional catheterization. They develop an in-depth understanding of cardiac hemodynamics associated with acquired and congenital heart disease, as well as insight regarding patient selection for interventional procedures.
- The electrophysiology rotation provides fellows with the basics of pediatric electrophysiology, through a combination of inpatient and outpatient patient exposures, including basic electrophysiology testing and complex electrophysiology studies.
In addition to the outpatient rotation noted above, fellows have a dedicated continuity clinic. Fellows see continuity clinic patients with the same group of faculty members for the duration of their fellowship and have the opportunity to collaborate and learn from their colleagues assigned to the same clinic. Fellows acquire new patients as referrals from primary care physicians or other sub-specialists, by admitting new patients while on-call or on-service, or through inpatient consultations. These patients have a wide variety of diagnoses, affording fellows the chance to manage issues from simple to very complex. Over the course of training, fellows develop relationships with these patients and their families. Fellows will continue to gain additional outpatient experience during their sub-specialty rotations, specifically during the EP and heart failure/transplant rotations.
Academic and Research Time
Aside from the clinical rotations noted above, fellows attend and participate in many regularly held teaching conferences. They have the opportunity of attending conferences with our adult cardiology colleagues at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as other McGaw Medical Center conferences. There is a yearly lecture series in cardiac anatomy and embryology provided by Professor Robert Anderson, MD, PhD, FRCPath, a world-renowned expert in cardiac morphology. Workshops in ethics and teaching are available as well.
The fellowship program allots time to develop and foster the research skills needed for a productive academic career, particularly in the second and third years of training. There are six months of protected research time to allow for project development, refinement and completion. Depending on career goals and prior achievements, senior fellows may make alterations in their schedules to allow for additional research time. Fellow progress in academic pursuits is monitored by the Scholarship Oversight Committee with specific goals and a timeline set in the first months of training. Ongoing research activity is found both at Lurie Children's and within the Northwestern University community.
We have a robust teaching curriculum. Conferences include a weekly cardiac care conference, echocardiography, and didactic teaching conferences. Specific EP, cardiac MRI and cardiac catheterization conferences occur over the month. Monthly journal clubs are fellow-directed with active faculty participation. A recurring academic/research curriculum is also in place. Fellows are expected to refine their teaching skills during their training and participate in the clinical education of residents and medical students affiliated with the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the McGaw Medical Center, both of which attract the highest caliber premedical and post-graduate medical trainees.
If desired, fellows have the opportunity to apply for, and if accepted, participate in the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) program at the Feinberg School of Medicine during the second and third year of fellowship. Funding for this competitive program is available for a limited number of Department of Pediatrics fellows. Other degree and certificate opportunities include a Master of Public Health, Master and Certificate in Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety and Master of Health Services and Outcomes Research. Additionally, fellows have a discretionary fund available for books or conference attendance.
Fellows cover night and weekend calls for the cardiology floor/consult service via a night float system with an attending cardiologist. The CICU call is divided between cardiology and critical care medicine fellows, averaging 20 calls per year, all under the supervision of a 24 hour in-house cardiac intensivist. Call frequency is non-graduated, and approximately every sixth night (60-65 calls per year) per fellow for all levels of training.
The Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program's acceptance criteria conform with those of the Graduate Medical Education Program of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education. Fellowship applicants must be board certified in pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) or must be eligible to sit for the ABP general pediatric examination during the first year of fellowship training. Fellowship applications are submitted via ERAS. For more information, contact us using the information to the right of this page.
For more information regarding pediatric cardiology, please visit the Council of Pediatric Subspecialties site (COPS): http://www.pedsubs.org/SubDes/Cardiology.cfm
For applicants interested for in additional training (4th year) in advanced cardiac non-invasive imaging, heart failure/transplant, or cardiac critical care, please refer to the requirements listed under the specific program link.
Michael R. Carr, MD
Mary E. McBride, MD
Division of Pediatric Cardiology
Ann & Robert H. Lurie
Children's Hospital of Chicago
225 E. Chicago Avenue #21
Chicago, Illinois 60611
For fellowship salary information, visit McGaw Medical Center for Graduate Medical Education.