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Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine

SarcoidosisTeamTracy Luckhardt, M.D.

As the field of pulmonary medicine has evolved dramatically since 2020, faculty at UAB have revamped the fellowship training experience to better meet the needs of its learners. Its primary goal? To provide more individualized training for future pulmonologists.

“We wanted to expand our fellowship program to let our fellows see the breadth of our subspecialty. We also wanted to be able to train fellows for a variety of different careers—physician-scientists, clinician-educators, master clinicians and community doctors,” said program director Tracy Luckhardt, M.D.

The general pulmonary fellowship is led by Luckhardt, a Professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine. George “Marty” Solomon, M.D. serves as associate director of the program.

"We re-wrote the curriculum to be a more faculty-driven, didactic program," Solomon explained. "Fellows can see the full spectrum, from research to clinical care, for a particular condition."

The trainee experience is divided into roughly equal parts of master clinician/didactic type case-based lectures and fellow-led presentations of either journal clubs, case conferences, or didactic talks of their choice. While training, fellows experience programs in environmental medicine, COPD, interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and lung cancer, from both a research and patient care perspective.

“We have also launched a critical care medicine fellowship and an interventional pulmonary fellowship,” Luckhardt said.

The Critical Care Medicine Fellowship, led by Program Director Sheetal Gandotra, M.D., trains physicians in procedures like airway management, paracentesis, basic bronchoscopy, percutaneous tracheostomy, and arterial access. Critical Care fellows train in the hospital ICU, while also rotating on ECMO, VA, and tele-ICU services.

“Dr. Gandotra led an initiative a year ago to develop a multidisciplinary critical care curriculum,” Luckhardt said. “Now, we have two hours a week dedicated to this multidisciplinary critical care curriculum, which is attended by our pulmonary critical care fellows, our critical care fellows, anesthesia critical care, neurocritical care, and sometimes trauma critical care.” 

The UAB Interventional Pulmonology program, directed by Hitesh Batra, M.D, offers a multidisciplinary approach to a wide range of pulmonary and pleural diseases. IP fellows work in close collaboration with medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, thoracic surgeons, ENT surgeons, pathologists, and radiologists, which allows for well-rounded training.

“We are unique in that we have the facilities and expertise to offer the full range of interventional pulmonology procedures and provide comprehensive and expedited diagnosis, treatment, management of complications, and thorough follow-up care,” said Batra.

The division’s fellowship programs are not only expanding in terms of medical information and training, but also in demographics and representation.

“Our current first-year class has two fellows who are underrepresented in medicine out of six. Our incoming class matched four women out of six available spaces, in a field where only about 30% of your applicants are female,” Luckhardt said. “I am excited to have a class that is predominantly female coming in.”

This fellowship program’s quality is best exemplified by doctors like Jonathan Kalehoff, M.D., former fellows who stay at UAB after their fellowship training is complete.

“UAB has the best of all the worlds that you're looking for. You don't have to choose between research, clinical work, or education,” said Kalehoff.

“While I was a fellow, Dr. Solomon and Dr. Luckhardt would constantly contact me about resources they thought would help me in my individual training. They helped me build my program from the ground up,” Kalehoff said. “The program has a policy of fostering your interest and excitement.”

The personalization of training is being carried on to future generations, as seen in recent training developments helmed by Kalehoff.

“We are bringing in new mechanical ventilation training rather than sending our fellows out for training. We’re also putting together a global health curriculum,” Kalehoff explained. “I think in the next few years, we'll be taking fellows with us to some of our partner sites in Kenya.”

Our fellowship directors boast that the UAB Pulmonary Fellowship programs position them as a leader in the field. "We can compete with any of the top-tier programs in the country,” Luckhardt said. “As we remain proactive and continue to provide what the fellows need, we’ll continue to grow and improve.”