Training to become a pediatrician is about more than just knowing how to diagnose and treat an illness. It’s also about recognizing when patients and families could use the support of community agencies to help them with things like developmental or cognitive delays, hearing and speech support, housing and food, and even literacy. It’s one of the reasons the hospital incorporates spending time in the community as part of its pediatric rotation for residents.
Dr. Joel Davidson, community pediatrics residency education coordinator, says it’s important for first-year residents to spend time outside the confines of the hospital’s walls and see and learn about the neighborhoods where families are raising their kids.
“Our residents spend a 4-week rotation going someplace different in the community every day,” he said. “From children’s services to the health department to homeless shelters to libraries, schools, playgrounds and zoos, we want them to learn about the purpose and function of the community agencies they visit and how they can optimize the development of their future patients.”
One of those resources that is especially close to Dr. Davidson’s heart is the Akron-Summit County Public Library system. (Dr. Davidson is also a champion of the hospital’s Reach Out and Read program.) Since 2013, residents have been spending one of their rotations at the North Hill branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library.
Sally Bailey, North Hill children’s librarian, said it’s been nice to have the residents come and observe her preschool story times and spend time playing with the children – many of whom are immigrants and speak English as a second language.
“Our library has been known to be a comfortable place where people can come and hang out and speak in their native languages,” she said.
For Dr. Amanda Davis, a Tennessee transplant, who recently spent the morning at the library, it was her first time visiting the North Hill neighborhood.
“This is a place where kids can come and be exposed to books and toys they may not have at home,” she said. “It’s also great opportunity for them to interact with other kids since many of them aren’t school age yet.”
“North Hill is a neighborhood that is walkable and has a strong small business community,” said Dr. Davidson. “There is a lot of history there and it’s a great place for residents to get to know the community.”
Sally sees the rotation as a wonderful opportunity for the doctors to see the library, the people who use it, and the resources it offers. Kara Olson, who is one of her regulars at story time, has been bringing her 4 kids to the library for the last 2 years.
“We moved to the neighborhood 2 years ago and it’s a nice way for the kids and I to meet people in the community,” she said. “Plus Mrs. Bailey is really great with the kids.”
Karen Waheed, who owns It Takes a Village Childcare Center on E. Cuyahoga Falls Ave., brings her charges and her 7-month-old grandson Jeremiah to the weekly story times.
“They look forward to coming here,” she said.
Dr. Davidson considers libraries community centers of information.
“Some of the consistent feedback we get from our residents is they didn’t realize libraries were such a great resource,” he said. “It’s not just about books and literacy, people can get information on things like community childcare and jobs, too.”
Sometimes Dr. Davison will send his residents off to a neighborhood playground, zoo or park just to observe how kids typically act outside the exam room.
“It’s about getting to know the community, how and where families live and appreciating all this area has to offer,” he said. “I want them to take it all in.”