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Browning to succeed Swan as director of the Pediatric Residency program

Aug. 4, 2021, 10:13 AM


by Rachel Vitolo

Rebecca Swan, MD

After almost two decades as the director of the Pediatric Residency program, Rebecca Swan, MD, professor of Pediatrics, is stepping down to focus on her role as vice chair for Education for the Department of Pediatrics and as assistant dean for Graduate Medical Education.

Whitney Browning, MD, current associate residency director of the Pediatric Residency program and assistant professor of Pediatrics, will assume the role of program director. Her appointment began July 1.

“I am very grateful to Rebecca for almost 20 years of complete dedication to the residency program,” said Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of Pediatrics, Pediatrician-in-Chief at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and James C. Overall Professor.

Whitney Browning, MD

“She has prioritized diversity in recruitment efforts, expanded the geographical footprint of the residents trained here, and worked tirelessly with faculty partners to ensure the highest quality of graduate education is provided. I look forward to her many future contributions to the department in her role as vice chair for Education.

“I could not be more excited to welcome Whitney as the new director of the program, Webber continued. “Whitney is enthusiastic, optimistic, and brings a new perspective to the table. I am looking forward to her continued leadership of and improvement to our residency program.”

Since becoming program director in 2002, Swan has overseen a 23% increase in the size of the Pediatric Residency program, including the expansion of the Child Neurology residency program and the establishment of the Combined Pediatric-Medical Genetics residency program. Under her leadership, the program has seen a 150% increase in total applications to the program each year, with a 300% increase in students who self-identify as Under-Represented in Medicine (URM) and a 54% increase in physician-scientist applicants. In 2020, the program had more than 1,250 applicants.

“I can’t imagine a more challenging or rewarding career than being in graduate medical education, and serving as the pediatric residency program director for almost 20 years has truly been a dream job for me,” said Swan.

“Being part of a trainee’s professional journey is an honor and a responsibility. Stepping away from this role is one of the hardest decisions I have made, but I know that the time is right. I look forward to supporting Dr. Browning as she assumes the program director role. She is primed to take over the program with her ideas for continued success and innovation.”

Swan has led the program through the evolution of competency-based education and numerous changes in accordance with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Under her direction, the program leadership team implemented a direct observation tool in the continuity clinic as well as solicited regular feedback from nursing and continuity patient families to ensure more complete multidisciplinary assessments of residents.

Browning has been associate program director since 2012. She completed her medical degree at the University of Kentucky before moving to Nashville to complete a residency in Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2008. She went on to serve one year as pediatric chief resident and joined the Department of Pediatrics faculty in 2010.

“I am extremely humbled, honored and excited to be stepping into the Pediatric Residency program director role,” said Browning.

“I first fell in love with Vanderbilt and this program as a visiting medical student over 16 years ago. I learned to be a pediatrician here, and I have grown as a passionate educator and capable leader here, thanks to the mentorship of Dr. Swan and many others who have invested in me over the years.”

Browning’s scholarly work in medical education focuses on assessment and written evaluation as well as using growth mindset in remediation and promoting career vitality.

“Medical education is evolving, and opportunities abound as we increase our focus on preparing our trainees to take equitable and holistic care of their patients, merging medicine and community, and I very much look forward to being part of that,” said Browning.

Devang Pastakia, MD, current assistant program director and associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics, will assume the role of associate program director. Alison Herndon, MD, MSPH and Rene VanDeVoorde, MD will continue in their roles as assistant program directors.

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