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Outreach Program Draws Residents to Allergy/Immunology Specialty

Flavia Cuestas-Quiroz, MD
As a PGY1 resident in Pediatrics, Flavia Cuestas-Quiroz, MD, often treats patients with asthma and allergies but, had not had much exposure to the A/I specialty until she attended the AAAAI’s first Regional Outreach on A/I for Residents (ROAR) program held this past September in Washington, DC.
“It was an amazing experience attending the ROAR program,” Dr. Cuestas-Quiroz said. “The opportunity allowed us as residents to explore our interest, get to know the subspecialty more and make new connections. After attending, I am even more interested in allergy and immunology.”
ROAR is modeled after the successful Texas Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Society Primary Care Residents’ Conference and was designed to attract more young people to the field and to increase diversity within the specialty, said AAAAI President David A. Khan, MD, FAAAAI, who introduced the program as one of his presidential initiatives. Three initial sessions were developed in different geographical regions. The first two were held in the fall in Washington, DC, and San Diego. The third will be held in San Diego in the spring.
“Our specialty needs more visibility,” said Sarbjit (Romi) S. Saini, MD, FAAAAI, who led the session in Washington, DC. The number of candidates entering the field has seen little growth in the past decade, he said.
Dr. Saini said he focused on selecting a diverse group of presenters from the Washington, DC region who are in the early stages of their career for the program faculty. “My thought process was that these young residents might see themselves in these faculty members – people who trained in the area and have found success early in their careers.”
“The faculty was excellent! They were approachable, shared relevant advice and made us feel welcome. Furthermore, their careers and scope of practice were an excellent example for me,” said Dr. Cuestas-Quiroz. “Their presentations allowed me to learn from different perspectives and I am already applying that knowledge in the care of my patients.”
The intent, Dr. Khan said, is for ROAR to become a turnkey program that the Federation of Regional, State and Local Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Societies (RSLAAIS) Assembly can implement in regions across the country. “By meeting residents where they are, we can increase the number and diversity of residents interested in joining the specialty.”
A spontaneous walk down the National Mall allowed attendees the chance to get to know each other in a less formal setting and to see historical sites that some had never had the opportunity to visit.