Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Neurology
Indiana University School of Medicine
What about your training at IU School of Medicine has best prepared you for a career as a neurodevelopental pediatrician? I feel that I was prepared for my career in essentially every way through my experience in the IU School of Medicine NDD residency program. Through my six years in training I gained the clinical and academic skill set to be able to handle a wide and variable range of patient populations throughout the spectrum of neurological and developmental disabilities and also the knowledge-base needed to pass my board examinations. What was honestly more important is that I was also connected with the resources required to navigate the healthcare system for my patients within our own hospital system and throughout the state and country at large.
What sets IU's NDD Residency program apart from other programs in the country? The most clear and obvious difference in our program is the fact that we are the only program located in the Midwest. This allowed me to experience many of the benefits of a comfortable cost of living and “Hoosier hospitality,” while still living in a growing metropolitan city that offers all of the amenities that I could ask for. I think less immediately obvious were the dedication to education and clinical training that our program offers, along with the unique experience of working on our inpatient Complex Care team. We are one of the few NDD training programs and Developmental Pediatrics departments in the country who has a dedicated inpatient unit to care for our population of patients during their more acute care needs. This also allows us time and training in some of the more socially complicated aspects of caring for children dealing with feeding problems and failure to thrive; as well as those with complex, chronic medical conditions. The multidisciplinary and inter professional approach to care that this team offers is unique, even within our own hospital system, and is something that every pediatrics resident has a chance to participate in during their training.
How did your residency training best prepare you for your career? I feel that I have gained tools that have made for an easy transition from resident to faculty that particularly benefited me in my choice to stay on as faculty, but that would have also translated to working in any academic healthcare setting. I am most grateful for the interpersonal connections that I have made throughout our departments of Developmental Pediatrics and Child Neurology, as well as with the broader inter professional staff that I work with on a daily basis. Learning to work in an inter professional clinical setting is an invaluable experience when caring for children with multiple complex neurodevelopmental needs. My experiences navigating complex medical and socioeconomic questions alongside our closely integrated dietitians, pharmacists, social workers, genetic counselors, nurses, care coordinators, and administrative staff during residency has allowed me to foster those same sorts of relationships in my clinical practice.
What's your favorite IUSM memory? It is hard to pick out one favorite or lasting memory, so I will instead pick two. The first was when I was invited to the Developmental Pediatrics summer pitch-in and pool party early on in my training. It was a very formative moment where I felt that even as an intern, I was an appreciated member of a much larger team and department. I was able to experience my staff, mentors, and co-workers outside of the work setting and really felt affirmed that this was the sort of physician that I wanted to be and that these were the kind of people I wanted to be surrounded with throughout my career. The second memory was when I took my first overnight neurology call at Riley Hospital for Children. I was called to the emergency department for a consultation and was immediately greeted with a huge welcome and sigh of relief from the ED staff and residents. They were so happy to see a familiar faceand voiced that having me there as a consultant helped them to trust that I would be able to navigate the challenges of this patient and explain things in a way that the family would be able to understand. It was a big homecoming moment where I realized that, even though my role had suddenly changed from year two to year three, the connections and relationships I had developed previously were still paying off both for me and for the patients we were all caring for.
Kayleigh Avery, MD, Class of 2026
I chose to pursue a career in NDD, because I love the patient population we work with. I have a younger sibling with Down Syndrome and Autism, and I learned from a young age that I get a lot of fulfillment from working with children with special healthcare needs and their families. From an academic standpoint, I found multiple fields to be of interest to me including neurology, genetics, and developmental pediatrics. Having training in a combined program helped to satisfy some of those interests. I have found that I enjoy the diverse nature of the patient population and the varied role NDD physicians have.
I had the benefit of training at Indiana University for medical school, and I decided to stay for my residency training for several reasons, both personal and professional. I have family in the area and have enjoyed living in Indiana. The city has a lot of diverse interests to offer and is a very affordable place to live. The faculty and residents were genuinely invested in my education and career development during my time here. The residents and faculty in the department are both humble and highly intelligent accomplished people who care for their patients and one another. I knew that I would fit in well here, and that our training program provided a learning environment where I would thrive.
Kristin Fauntleroy, MD, Class of 2025
I am passionately active in disability advocacy and have a strong interest in addressing system-based barriers to access. On my interview here it was apparent that the faculty not only would support those interest but shared similar passions. During interview season at the Association of University Centers on Disability’s National Conference in Washington, D.C IU was well represented (in matching shirts) acting as leaders in disability advocacy, policy and research. Then to top it all off, IU has a unique complex care inpatient unit and Camp Riley, an adaptive summer camp that residents can become involved in starting intern year.
I ranked IU first because I knew this program would help me grow as a clinician, an advocate and as someone who values recreational activities for individuals with disabilities.
Florence Sun, MD, Class of 2024
NDD resonated with me as my chosen career path because of the patients; I wanted to work with children and families of children with disabilities because they are a population that often times get overlooked or are misunderstood because of the complexity of their needs. Prior to going to medical school, I used to be a teacher for students with a wide range of learning and behavioral differences; that combined with my interest in neurology and developmental pediatrics in medical school allowed me to discover NDD as the perfect combination of all my interests.
IU stood out to me as a leading program in the field because of its excellent faculty we get to learn from as well as the range of inpatient and outpatient experiences available. We are one of few programs with an inpatient Complex Care unit for children with disabilities, which I wanted as a part of my training. Pre-pandemic times, I was also able to go to China with a group of residents led by one of our Inpatient Developmental Pediatrics faculty; we went to aid Chinese orphanages with children with complex medical needs, and this was one of the most unique rotations IU has to offer.
Coming from New England, my transition to Indianapolis has been amazing; Indianapolis is a growing city with an affordable cost of living that has allowed me to enjoy all activities I like doing outside of the hospital. There are beautiful local parks and lakes/ reservoirs for me to take in the lush nature of Indiana, and the downtown scene also offers many other fun activities and diverse restaurants that I am happy reminds me of tastes of home. The friends I have made here who are my co-residents and mentors have become my new family and have provided me a wonderful learning environment these past few years here; I could not have been happier!