The Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and University of Calgary offers residency training in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology that is fully accredited by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
The program was accredited in July 2009 with funding for one position in each year. This program offers training in a vibrant academic medical atmosphere at the University of Calgary with exceptional clinical research and educational opportunities.
The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/BMT Residency Program is of three years duration. The first two years are comprised of the core elements of Hematology/Oncology/BMT. Exposure to the broad scope of this field occurs through rotations in the Pediatric Oncology inpatient ward as well as the outpatient clinic at Alberta Children’s Hospital. Residents have exposure to the diagnosis and management of the broad spectrum of pediatric malignancies as well as non-malignant hematologic disorders. Outpatient clinic exposure includes acute and long-term follow-up of oncology, neuro-oncology and BMT patients as well as hematology patients (including hemophiliacs and neonates). In the first two years of training, residents also have opportunity to obtain laboratory-based hematology training at the Children’s Hospital and Foothills Medical Centre. Further rotations include pediatric radiotherapy at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, pediatric hematology consultations, with optional rotations in adult hematology inpatient service at the Foothills Medical Centre and malignant hematology and BMT on the leukemia/lymphoma/BMT service at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. During training, residents are given an ever-increasing amount of responsibility, with the goal to function as independent consultants at the completion of training.
The third year is devoted to research, which is to be original, either with a clinical, translational or basic science focus. Faculty members are appointed to serve as both basic science and clinical research advisors. Basic science research opportunities are available through the Department of Oncology at the University of Calgary and Heritage Medical Research Facility.
Seminars and Rounds
A variety of rounds and teaching sessions are available to the residents. These include a core curriculum in pediatric hematology/ oncology as well as the opportunity to attend teaching sessions at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre which cover the major tumor sites and other topics such as clinical trials, biostatistics and clinical practice guidelines. Other learning opportunities include journal clubs, oncology grand rounds, tumor boards and oncology ward rounds. Training in medical ethics, statistics and principles of cancer biology are also provided.
Research is a mandatory part of the residency training program. Residents are encouraged from the beginning of their training to develop some specific research interests. Identification of a clinical problem during the first year with the use of specific cases as points of reference for larger reviews is promoted, thus enabling residents to learn some of the tools of developing research hypotheses. During the latter part of the first year and on into the second year residents are expected to define their interests to develop a research project. This may be either clinical or laboratory-based, which may be pursued during elective time (if desired), or may be done during the third (research) year. Residents are also encouraged to submit abstracts for presentation at a major national or international meeting each year, and to have a manuscript submitted for publication during their second year. It is anticipated that although not all residents may ultimately pursue a career as clinician/scientist, because the field of pediatric hematology/oncology is very academic and research oriented, and because it can only be practiced in academic centers, the resident will require some research training to become proficient in interpreting the literature and advances in pediatric cancer and blood diseases.
A faculty research supervisor will be available for mentorship concerning research. All of the faculty members will be willing to advise, and if a research topic is chosen in which a particular faculty member has special expertise, then that faculty member will assist and advise the resident with the project. Laboratory based research will be an option and facilities available include micro arrays, molecular biology, cell culture, vaccine generation and immunobiology.
The Hematology/Oncology/BMT Program at Alberta Children’s Hospital is a specialty referral program for children in Southern Alberta, Southwestern British Columbia and Western Saskatchewan. A broad spectrum of hematological and oncological disorders are seen and treated. The program also provides bone marrow transplantation for the referral area and performs autologous, allogeneic (related and matched-unrelated), as well as cord blood transplants for benign and malignant disorders.
All physicians of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/BMT at the Alberta Children’s Hospital are full members of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). Faculty members play key roles in the COG (e.g. Dr. Strother as Principal Investigator of ongoing and recently completed clinical trials for neuroblastoma and brain tumors, and member of the planning committees). Registration of patients on COG protocols is of high priority and is done whenever possible. Residents are exposed to the concept and functioning of large multi-institutional/international clinical trials groups through becoming familiar with the Children’s Oncology Group protocols and using them in the diagnosis, treatment and management of children with cancer. The division is also a member of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium (PBMTC). This is an international pediatric bone marrow transplant clinical trials group that investigates the utility of bone marrow transplantation in children with research being conducted through clinical trials with both clinical and basic science components. Residents are given opportunity to learn from the protocols provided by this group. Finally, the Alberta Children’s Hospital is the only Canadian institution of a 10 member consortium looking at new drugs in children with cancer (Pediatric Oncology Investigational and Experimental Therapeutic Consortium – POIETIC). This group provides exposure to the processes involved with the human testing of new agents. Residents are given the opportunity to observe working meetings of the COG, PBMTC and POIETIC and are encouraged to develop correlative studies relevant for those groups.
Residency training takes place primarily at the Alberta Children’s Hospital but also at the Foothills Medical Centre and the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. In September 2006 the Alberta Children’s Hospital relocated to a new, state-of-the-art children’s hospital facility located adjacent to the Foothills Medical Centre and the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine.
All residents must submit a formal application, which includes their curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, documentation of completion of pediatric training and documentation of graduation from an accredited medical school. The Program Director and Training Program Committee will review the applications of all individuals who are making application to the program. Short-listed candidates will be expected to visit the program and to be interviewed by all members of the committee and to meet with current residents of the program.