Neonatal Fellowship Program

The Neonatal Fellowship Program at the University of New Mexico is an outstanding training program for those interested in a career in neonatology. The training program has been in existence for almost 40 years and has been essential in improving the health of critically ill neonates in New Mexico. This is a three-year training program in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and is approved by the Residency Review Committee of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The fellowship training takes place at the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

Our fellows receive outstanding clinical training in the care of critically ill neonatal patients admitted to the NICU. All admissions to the NICU are directly cared for by the Neonatology Service. Fellows participate in Developmental Follow-up, Perinatal Consultation and Genetics.  In addition, fellows have electives in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, ECMO, and Cardiovascular Surgery. Didactic sessions include a 3-day annual Neonatal Skills Lab using high fidelity simulation, a Neonatal Fellows Fundamentals in Research Seminar Series (Scholarly Activity Core Curriculum) and a Fellows Neonatology Core Curriculum. The Division also has several weekly Neonatology conferences and didactic opportunities.

Experience Fellowship at UNM

Overview

Welcome to the University of New Mexico's Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Program. Our fellow's clinical training occurs in a state-of-art Level IV unit at the University of New Mexico Children's Hospital (UNMH). This 52-bed open bay unit was opened in 2007 and cares for a wide range of critically-ill neonates. It serves as a regional referral center and has a robust high risk delivery service. ECMO is available in the NICU for newborns with severe cardio-respiratory failure.

NICU Clinical Training

Our program aims to train exceptional Neonatologists who are well prepared to manage a full spectrum neonatal patients. We train our fellows to use an evidence-based approach to the pathophysiology commonly encountered in the NICU. Our fellows have abundant exposure to premature infants (as young as 23 weeks gestation) in addition to infants with a broad range of surgical, cardiac and genetic conditions. In fact, New Mexico's diverse patient population provides the opportunity for our fellows to have regular exposure to rare diagnoses and unique clinical situations.

Our fellows have a graduated level of responsibility over the 3 years and by completion of the fellowship are fully prepared to practice independently. The first six months of fellowship focus heavily on procedural skill acquisition including intubations, umbilical line placement, PICC placement, thoracentesis and chest tube placement. Fellows are also taught to place central venous catheters by a cut-down approach.

By the end of the first year, our fellows are becoming proficient at diagnosing and learning how to manage complex medical and surgical problems of the neonate. Second and third year fellows continue to build on the knowledge and skills obtained in the first year. Additionally, the focus of training broadens to include running rounds with attending supervision, management of a multidisciplinary team and education of junior colleagues.

Service and Call Responsibilities

The clinical schedule consists of 52 weeks of service distributed over 3 years. These service weeks typically occur in two-week blocks. Fellows also complete a total of 150 calls by the end of training. Of the total calls, approximately 107 are weekday calls (~16 hrs) and 43 are weekend calls (~24 hrs). Fellows can choose to ‘front load’ their schedule over the first two years of training to allow lighter clinical/call schedule during the third year. Fellows typically are not given weeknight call while on service to avoid disrupting the service day.

Fellows participate in numerous conferences and ancillary clinical experiences that provide them with a wide knowledge base in neonatal-perinatal medicine.

Conferences/Didactic Sessions Weekly

  • Core Curriculum:  Fellow didactic sessions which focus on teaching neonatal physiology, pathology, embryology, development and common neonatology specific topics. The format includes lectures, case/article discussions, skills labs, etc. and will cover areas that fellows can expect to see on the subspecialty board exam. 
  • Neo Grand Rounds:  Division wide conference to foster discussion around the management of the high acuity infants while reviewing current literature and guidelines. This provides an opportunity for the group to be continuously updated on the hospital course and future plans for these infants. 
  • Pals:  Fellows conference centered on learning how to manage neonatal consults, referrals and neonatal transports.
  • Peri-OB/Special Delivery:  Multidisciplinary conference attended jointly by MFM, Neonatology and Cardiology to discuss high-risk pregnancies in the community, and to coordinate antenatal consults and delivery plans.
  • Genetics:  Fellow didactic lead by Dr. Carol Clericuzio, distinguished emeritus genetics professor, aimed at teaching fellows how to work up and manage infants with complex genetic anomalies.

Conferences/Didactic Sessions Monthly

  • Journal Club: Division wide conference focused on critically evaluating current high yield randomized clinical trials in Neonatology.
  • Morbidity and Mortality Conference: Multidisciplinary meeting held to examine a recent case or event with the aim of reducing medical error and systems issues. This is typically used as platform for generating division wide quality improvement projects.
  • Hot Topics: Division wide conference aimed at presenting up and coming topics in neonatology.

Ancillary Educational Activities

  • Rocky Mountain Bootcamp: Annual multi-institutional high-fidelity simulation and skills training session. First year neonatology fellows from the Universities of New Mexico, Colorado and Utah participate in this comprehensive 2-day seminar.
  • Perinatal/Special Delivery Clinic: Neonatology antenatal counseling clinic. This clinic helps to facilitate multidisciplinary management of high-risk pregnancies.
  • Special Baby Clinic: Multidisciplinary developmental clinic for NICU graduates. Fellows attend multiple clinics a year which allows them to follow the longitudinal development of infants throughout the first 2 years of life.
  • Transport Shifts: Fellows participate in neonatal transports with the Lifeguard Transport service. This gives them the opportunity to learn about transport physiology and to gain first-hand experience with managing neonates undergoing transport.

Research:

A significant portion of fellowship is dedicated to a pursing a basic science or clinical research project. Our fellows are given approximately 24 months of protected non-clinical time to focus on their research project. We strive to provide comprehensive and well-rounded scholarly training that will prepare fellows for a career in academic medicine.

The Division of Neonatology is part of the NICHD Neonatal Research Network, which has multiple ongoing observational and interventional studies in the NICU. Additionally, we participate in the Vermont Oxford Network, ECHO (environmental influences on child health outcomes) and IDeA States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network, with ongoing observational and interventional studies occurring in the NICU. For more info, follow this link: Neo Research

Fellows work closely with a research mentor who help guide them through all aspects of their project. Fellows have to opportunity to work with a wide variety of basic science or clinical investigators either from within the Division of Neonatology or the broader Health Sciences system at UNM. Recent prior mentors from outside the Division of Neonatology include:

  • Ludmila Bakhireva, MD, PhD, MPH: Ludmila Bakhireva is a perinatal epidemiologist, Professor at the UNM College of Pharmacy, and a Director of the Substance Use Research and Education (SURE) Center. Dr. Bakhireva's primary areas of research expertise are in the field of maternal and child health, substance use disorders, neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, early life neurodevelopment and behavior, and clinical teratology. She is a Principal Investigators on several NIH-funded prospective cohort studies and a Co-Investigator on the NIDA Southwest Clinical Trial Node.
  • Ricardo Castillo, MD: Dr. Castillo is pediatric gastroenterologist at UNMH. His work has included intestinal rehabilitation, nutritional and medical management of complex GI patients, liver disease, liver transplant and intestinal transplant.
  • Nancy Kanagy, PhD: Dr. Kanagy is a Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at UNM. She is the director of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. Her primary research interests are vascular physiology, hypertension and blood pressure control. 
  • John Phillips, MD: Phillips is a licensed physician who, as MRN's Medical Director, has responsibility for ensuring the safety and ethical conduct of clinical and research operations. His expertise and research are in functional neuroimaging, pediatric neurorehabilitation, cerebral palsy, spasticity management and the care of children with special needs in Eastern European orphanages. John Phillips
  • Daniel Savage, PhD: Dr. Savage is a Regents’ Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at UNM. His research is focused on the impact moderate ethanol intake during pregnancy has on the offspring’s brain, and investigating preclinical screening of putative therapeutic agents for treating fetal alcohol-induced learning deficits as well as developing novel biomarkers for the early detection of fetal alcohol-induced functional brain damage. 

Fellow’s research projects are additionally supported through their Scholarly Oversight Committee. The purpose of this committee is to review the fellow's scholarly activity every six to twelve months throughout the fellowship. The committee members help offer expertise guidance on next steps and navigating roadblocks, and often include members from outside the division.

Quality Improvement:

Our division fosters an environment that supports and promotes active, ongoing quality improvement. All fellows will receive education on quality improvement principles and participate in a division wide quality improvement project. Our goal is to provide fellows with the knowledge and skills required to continue to implement quality improvement initiatives in their future career endeavors.

PGY-6

Dr. Brandi Bahringer grew up in Deming, New Mexico. She received her undergraduate degree in biology and psychology from University of New Mexico.  She attended Medical School at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico .  She completed her pediatric residency program at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico .  Her are of research interest is in effects of maternal iron-deficiency anemia on neonates.  Her QI in is  in delayed cord clamping.  Outside of medicine she enjoys spending time with her partner, Justin and their dog Tyler, baking, traveling, arts and crafts.

PGY-5

Dr. Hellen Ko grew up in Colorado Springs, CO. She received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Colorado State University and her graduate degree in Microbiology and Immunology from New York Medical College. Dr. Ko attended Medical School at St George’s University in Grenada. She completed her pediatric residency program at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Her area of research interest is improving follow up care of infants at risk for congenital Hepatitis C, and her quality improvement project includes the creation, education and implementation of a Neonatal Massive Transfusion Protocol. Outside of medicine she enjoys hiking with her dogs.



Dr. Sofia Markee grew up in Fremont, CA and in Harrogate, United Kingdom. She received her undergraduate degree in Physiology and Developmental Biology from Brigham Young University.  She attended Medical School at VCOM in Blacksburg, VA.  She completed her pediatric residency program at Prisma Health Children's Hospital in Columbia, SC.  Her area of research interest is in neurodevelopment looking at how the anterior cingulate cortex plays a role in cognitive and social-emotional development.  Her QI is in parenteral nutrition for extremely premature infants, specifically looking at calcium and phosphorus balance in TPN.  Outside of medicine she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, being outdoors, and eating great food.

Salary

Regionally competitive salary at the PGY-4, 5, and 6 levels

Benefits

https://hsc.unm.edu/school-of-medicine/education/gme/current-residents/index.html

Additional Benefits

  • Annual professional development stipend which can be used at fellow's discretion towards educational expenses including conference attendance, books or professional membership dues
  • Research stipend to cover research related expenses
  • 1 wellness day every six months that is in addition to GME granted sick and annual leave

There are generally two categorical positions available each year in the UNM Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Program. Eligible fellowship candidates are required to have completed three years of pediatric training in an ACGME approved residency program prior to beginning fellowship. Foreign medical school applicants with a J1 visa and US Pediatric residency training will be considered for the program. Our program participates in the National Residency Matching Program as well as the Electronic Residency Application Services application process.

The following information should be included with your ERAS application:

  • Official medical school transcripts
  • USMLE transcript
  • Current photograph
  • Personal Statement
  • Current Curriculum Vitae
  • At least three letters of recommendation
  • A valid ECFMG certificate (for International Medical Graduates only) - J1 visas are accepted
  • Include a current copy of your visa if you are not an American citizen or permanent resident

Candidates who are considered to be a good match for the program will be asked to set up a personal interview. The candidate's interview day will include meetings with the program director, faculty in the neonatology division, prospective research mentors and fellows of the division. Applicants will also tour the NICU and research laboratories. Additional materials may be requested by the program director when the interview is arranged.Interviews will be held between August and November in the same year prior to the match date in December.

Life in Albuquerque

Big city living meets small town charm, sunshine, and diversity. See what makes Albuquerque unique.