- Many fellowship programs require research projects or other specific goals based on the contribution to the desired field.
- In medicine, fellowships are considered for physicians who have already finished medical school and completed a residency in their medical specialty.
- A fellowship is mandatory for subspecialist doctors who practice in a highly-specialized area of medicine.
In chronic wound care, fellowship programs and other educational practices can help physicians keep up with ever-evolving treatments and information within the growing field. Unlike typical wounds, chronic wounds do not follow a predictable course of healing. There may be a host of underlying conditions that make chronic wounds more likely, and sometimes ongoing, making them more difficult to treat. This is also why the treatment outcomes for chronic wounds vary widely, depending on the training and expertise of the treating physician. For physicians, one way to increase this training and expertise is to consider a fellowship program.
What is a Fellowship?
The term fellowship has been used to mean some sort of scholarship, monetary award, or educational program to support additional learning for a physician in practice. This is often offered as a funding award given to the professional, in order to subsidize the cost of education. Fellowships essentially allow students to pursue additional – and often specialized, as is the case with chronic wound care – training or education. In this case, fellowships support education beyond what is encompassed in a given medical student’s graduate degree program.
Since they’re merit-based, students compete for fellowships and are usually selected based on their potential to make a positive, long-lasting contribution to their academic discipline. As a result, many fellowship programs require research projects or other specific goals based on the contribution to the desired field.
In medicine, fellowships are considered for physicians who have already finished medical school and completed a residency in their medical specialty. Seeking a fellowship allows these professionals to receive further medical training within a sub-specialty, and without having to return to school. The result is that they become master practitioners within a specific area of medicine, such as pediatric anesthesiology, for instance.
While it is important to understand that a medical fellowship isn’t necessary to become a physician, as many physicians pursue a career in general medicine such as obstetric or gynecology, and do not require specialized training to practice that specialty, a fellowship is mandatory for subspecialist doctors who practice in a highly-specialized area of medicine. Granted to only the best doctoral candidates, a fellowship is considered a major privilege.
Why a Wound Care Fellowship Matters
At first glance, it appears that a fellowship represents the financial means necessary for medical students to achieve their academic goals. However, there are many other reasons to pursue a fellowship.
A fellowship is an opportunity for a physician to learn from the best, since those leading fellowships are regarded as the most skilled and highly-respected physicians in their fields. This provides an added level of insight, experience, and expertise, which only serves to complement a medical professional’s education.
Many medical students also seek a fellowship because it’s considered an honor and a privilege, and one that leads to becoming a trusted resource in the field. In this way, a fellowship allows the student to make a contribution to the field of medicine that is unique, mutually beneficial, and often quite needed.
Fellowships also boost a physician’s professional reputation, as a fellowship represents the presence of highly-specialized skills. Further, a fellowship on a resume sets any candidate apart in the academic job market. As Dr. McGreggor Crowley, a clinical research fellow at Harvard Medical School, notes, “A graduate fellowship is a marker of external validation of quality.”
Lastly, a fellowship program often enhances interpersonal skills, identifies key strategies for improving work performance, and delves into research relevant to the subspeciality. All of these factors work together to make medical professionals more well-rounded within a particular subfield of medicine.
Do Fellowships Exist in Chronic Wound Care?
Chronic wound care represents a specialized area of medicine that certainly deserves a fellowship program. A number of wound care fellowships exist, depending on what subject a given candidate is looking to study within the wound care field.
The American Board of Wound Medicine and Surgery (ABWMS) has established a Commission on Wound Care Fellowship Program Directors designed to assist the board in offering specialized training at a state-of-the-art wound care center with a robust hyperbaric oxygen therapy program. Moreover, fellows are given the opportunity to work with various departments throughout the hospital, such as infectious disease, dermatology, and general, vascular, podiatric surgeries, while receiving benefits like a $1000 Academic stipend, $1000 Conference allowance, and a Hyperbaric Therapy Certificate.
This particular fellowship program offers a combination of rotations that include infectious disease, dermatology, and hyperbaric therapy training, as well as wound care textbook presentation, case presentations, online lectures, and required research project is required.
Treating chronic wounds is a growing specialty, and with that, fellowship opportunities will hopefully grow as well. For Karen Imma Gallada, physician fellow for wound healing and tissue repair at the University of Illinois at Chicago the fellowship program was an eye-opener.
Writing in Today’s Wound Clinic about the fellowship program, Gallada explains, “It’s clear to me now that wound care is more than the wound itself. Rather, it involves the treatment of the individual as a whole.” She continues, “Wound care specialists therefore need to establish relationships with patients, as wound treatment often requires multiple visits and long-term commitment.”
While fellowship programs across the country help to bolster the knowledge of our healthcare experts, wound care patients receive the benefits of improved care. For those with chronic wounds, or those which may never fully heal, there’s a marked difference in quality of life for simply being treated by a skilled physician. With improved patient outcomes set forth as the goal of any physician’s practice, fellowship programs can help any professional hone in on the problems of their field, only to return with new, innovative solutions which promote healing and happiness.