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Upstate Creates New Fellowship to Focus on Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect

Provided photo
SUNY Upstate

Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital is looking for a pediatrician who might also be interested in learning how to treat victims of child abuse and neglect.  It’s the first-ever fellowship in child abuse pediatrics at Upstate, and only the second in New York.

Director of the fellowship program Dr. Ann Botash says it makes sense to have at least one fellow in the field here in Syracuse. 

"We do have the right number of everybody.  We do have the population.  I think it's perfect for training someone.  It's not overwhelming, but just the right number of patients to see."

Botash is also co-medical director of the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center, which she says is a unique arrangement full of resources for a fellow to train and work with.

"We have a good number of people who do research in brain issues, and could work with a fellow perhaps looking at acute head trauma that happen from child abuse. We also have people doing research in orthopedics and fractures."

Botash says there is also essential psychiatric care, not to mention other critical services. 

"Not every patient needs to be seen by a subspecialist.  It's helpful, I think,  because we have the connections with the community that a pediatrician may not have with child protective services, the police, or Vera House, for example."

As part of the training, she says the fellow will participate in rotations with trauma services, and work with sexual assault nurse examiners.

"They'll also work a little bit in primary care, so they have a well-rounded, really good understanding of pediatrics, as well as being able to look at a child suspected of abuse, making sure they've ruled out other possible reasons.  I think that's the hardest part of the job, making sure you're not missing something medical."

The McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy center is on track to see more than 900 children this year…up from 700 in 2016.  Botash says the field is nuanced…and interesting…

"There's so many community factors into what brings a child to you.   The diagnosis itself often involves a lot of critical thinking and determination's like a puzzle.  You have to figure out what happened where and when."

She says they’re getting the word out now, and hopes to find a match who can start the three-year fellowship next July. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at