A version of this article appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Erikson on Children under the headline “Erikson goes to the hospital.”
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The Fussy Baby Network recently launched a partnership with two major Chicago medical centers, the University of Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago, to infuse its model for engaging with families, called FAN, into the universities’ pediatrician residency and fellowship programs.

“We have the opportunity to greatly strengthen medical education, starting in Chicago,” says Linda Gilkerson, professor and executive director of the Fussy Baby Network. “Doctors will have more ways to connect with families, and families will feel heard and understood, which research shows makes them more likely to follow their doctor’s advice.”

At many training programs, pediatricians aren’t coached on softer skills like communication and empathy — skills that lead to better overall care for young children and families and that are the basis of the FAN approach.

With the support of a two-year, $450,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Fussy Baby Network will build the FAN approach into the universities’ training curriculum. Over the two-year project, 83 residents serving more than 12,800 children will receive the training.

This partnership continues the Fussy Baby Network’s strong ties to the University of Chicago. Larry Gray, M.D., of the University of Chicago has been medical director of the Fussy Baby Network since its founding in 2003 and will provide pediatric leadership in this new partnership.

The Fussy Baby Network is also partnering with Healthy Steps for Young Children, a national initiative to foster healthy growth and development, to train pediatricians and their teams in the FAN approach.

Medical centers see great value in the training

“The Fussy Baby Network’s FAN approach nicely supplements the necessary and technical aspects of modern medicine. Pediatricians must be able to communicate and partner with parents to help their children, as the earliest years lay the foundation for that child’s whole life,” says Larry Gray, M.D., director of the University of Chicago’s Adoption Center and pediatric residency rotation in international health, as well as the Fussy Baby Network’s medical director.
 

“The Fussy Baby Network started with what they knew best and have begun to expand their approach to other sensitive and challenging situations for families and clinicians. Their expertise in family communication and collaboration makes them ideal teachers of this approach,” says Karin Vander Ploeg Booth, M.D., fellowship program director in the Section of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the University of Chicago and a member of the medical diagnostic team for Erikson’s Center for Children and Family.
 

“Communication is essential, but it can be difficult for pediatric residents to learn. The Fussy Baby Network approach will provide residents with a valuable framework to guide their communication with their families,” says Michelle M. Barnes, M.D., associate program director of the Pediatrics Residency Program for the Children’s Hospital of the University of Illinois.