The award was presented at this year’s Celebration of Teaching and Learning Feb. 7.

This teaching award was established in 2005 in memory of Paul Weber, a distinguished UofL teacher, scholar and mentor, and recognizes departments that demonstrate excellence in teaching.

“We are honored to be the first university department to receive this important teaching award,” said Gerard Rabalais, MD, MHA, chairman, Department of Pediatrics. “As pediatricians, we are trained to observe subtle growth and change in our patients.  As educators, we remain attuned to this same process in our community of learners.”

Experiential learning underpins all of the Department of Pediatrics’ medical education programming.

“Our faculty teach new medical students as well as senior residents, all the while maintaining our own lifelong learning profiles as we strive to keep pace with evolving technology, generational changes in learners and evolution of the country’s health care system,” said Kimberly Boland, MD, vice chair for pediatric medical education. “Our philosophy is to engage our learners by investing them in the educational process and integrating real-life applications of knowledge.”

Pediatrics has incorporated numerous innovative programs into its curriculum.

Each year, 20-26 rising second-year med students take a break from the classroom to participate in the Pediatric Summer Externship program. This four-week clinical experience provides a preview of pediatric medicine in private and academic offices and hospital settings.

A new procedure rotation gives pediatric residents the opportunity to hone their skills on 26 pediatric procedures, ranging from stitching up a wound to performing a spinal tap. This new rotation corrects a training shortcoming posed by duty hour limitations and the use of specialized hospital teams.

Trainees get to walk in the shoes of their patients through the Poverty and Social Justice in Child Health rotation. They must learn to negotiate a clinic trip on public transportation and to shop healthfully using food stamps. Time spent working with refugees and in community health centers broadens their understanding of the unique challenges of impoverished children and families.

Residents practice communications skills with patient actors. They also learn to advocate for children at the community and state level through the resident advocacy organization PUSH (Pediatricians Urging Safety and Health).

Faculty development is a priority. The department has developed a curriculum of more than 50 topics focused on improving teaching skills, mentoring, career development and research.

“We strive daily to prepare the complete pediatrician of tomorrow and enrich the practicing pediatrician of today by engaging them as learners, listening to their needs and integrating new knowledge with real-time experiences,” Boland said.

The department will receive a monetary award of $30,000 to support efforts to enhance critical thinking through faculty-generated projects.

“We plan to use the $30,000 award to integrate innovative technology into our core curriculum,” Boland said.

Pediatrics has received the Weber Award several times in previous years. In 2011, the award went to pediatric critical care specialists Aaron Calhoun, MD, and Katherine Potter, MD, and their pediatric simulation program. Amy Holthouser, MD, who has joint appointments in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, received the Weber Award in 2008.