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Medical Residents Make a Difference Far Beyond the Hospital’s ‘Four Walls’

As the June 2020 graduation date approaches for our first class of pediatric residents, it might be easy to think that their contributions to the health of the Valley’s children will be most noticeable then.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

While our residents spend countless hours in the clinical settings, a hallmark of Valley Children’s Pediatric Residency Program, Affiliated with Stanford University School of Medicine is the chance to influence children’s health in community settings and through advocacy opportunities. And the residents have wasted no time in making their impact felt.

Dr. Devon Ward will be a member of Valley Children’s first graduating class of pediatric residents. Dr. Ward, a graduate of Clovis West High School and Fresno State, was anxious to return home to complete her pediatric residency and to establish her medical practice upon graduation. Her interest in the integration of physical and behavioral health led to her community benefit work around raising awareness about suicide prevention and helping physicians to recognize and respond to suicide risk in their patients.  

“In medical school, I realized that mental health problems were often not addressed in much detail,” Dr. Ward said. “With the large shortage of pediatric psychiatrists, pediatricians are expected to address depression, anxiety, ADHD and suicidal ideation on a daily basis.”

With her passion for suicide awareness and recognizing an opportunity to help pediatricians, Dr. Ward worked with Dr. Carmela Sosa, Associate Program Director and Complex Primary Care Pediatrician, to offer training to more than 25 Valley Children’s residents on how to implement suicide risk screening into routine medical visits, complete appropriate risk management strategies and communicate with parents during at-risk visits.

“These community-based projects are an invaluable part of our residency. The issues our kids face will not be just those we will be able to address in the clinical setting. To me, an important part of being a well-rounded, compassionate physician is getting involved with and improving the community that you serve,” said Dr. Ward.