Obesity Medicine Program
Nutrition and Metabolic Disease Fellowship
Erica Garner, MD
Obesity Medicine Fellowship Clinical Training
Vanderbilt Weight Loss located at the One Hundred Oaks campus facility will be the primary site of training for our fellows. It is a tertiary referral base for the entire region for adult obesity and weight management. This is a multidisciplinary weight loss clinic consisting of medical doctors, bariatric surgeons, nurse practitioners, registered dietitians, psychologists, and exercise physiologists who are cross trained and can seamlessly evaluate and provide care for both surgical and medical weight management patients. Fellows will train under a preceptorship model directly with primary faculty who have expertise in medical management of obesity, and in preceptorship based teaching. Because this is a tertiary referral center – beyond simple obesity, we also see complex patients with severe obesity such as pre- and post-transplant patients (renal, heart, liver) and cancer survivors. We provide streamlined access to subspecialty clinics in both adult and pediatric medicine (Sleep Medicine, Hepatology, Endocrinology, Lipids, Women’s Health, Dayani Center for Health and Wellness, Eskind Diabetes Clinics) and fellows rotating in these clinics will learn how obesity comorbidities are managed.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center has a national and international reputation in graduate medical education with outstanding programs in medicine, surgery, and pediatrics. Our Department of Medicine ranks near the top in the country (#2 in NIH funding), and our Internal Medicine Residency is incredibly competitive largely due to its recognized training strengths – we train leaders in medicine. We train medical students and fellows from the top academic medical centers in the country. Our Obesity Medicine Fellowship, housed in the Department of Medicine, will synergize with and benefit from these existing outstanding clinical training resources both within and external to this department.
The Division of Surgical Sciences is a top tier surgical program with a bariatric surgery division that currently performs over 600 bariatric procedures per year. They are active participants in the academic mission contributing to teaching and research furthering our understanding of the biological mechanisms of bariatric surgery and implementation of surgical procedures in a surgical center of excellence. Indeed, our surgical colleagues are true partners in our integrated weight loss clinical enterprise where optimal weight loss strategies, whether they be medical or surgical, are devised for each individual patient. Our surgical program has trained bariatric surgeons over the past 18 years, many now prominent leaders in the field.
Our Department of Pediatrics is a nationally recognized program and has substantial expertise in pediatric obesity. On our training program faculty are individuals who are nationally and internationally recognized in pediatric interventions at the family and community level. Clinically our faculty have expertise in identifying and managing syndromic obesity, Prader Willi and in general pediatrics in identification and management of metabolic risk in children with obesity. We have an academic combined Medicine-Pediatrics section through which clinical exposure to primary care approaches to obesity prevention and management will be obtained.
The Obesity Medicine Fellowship program is integrated within the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism. Our existing adult and pediatric endocrinology fellowships are outstanding models on which the Obesity Medicine Fellowship is synergized. Robust conferences (case conference, journal club, didactics, tumor boards, grand rounds) and quality improvement mentoring occur regularly.
In addition, our Obesity Medicine fellow will have the opportunity to participate and teach in a unique Integrated Science Course for medical students. Drs. Flynn and Carranza-Leon co-direct an Integrated Science Course for third and fourth year medical students entitled “The Skinny on Obesity: What Every Health Provider Needs to Know” (MED IDIS 5622). This four-week course is offered six times a year.
The Vanderbilt Obesity Medicine Fellowship is a one-year clinical training program. During the first year, the Obesity Medicine fellow spends a significant portion of time in outpatient obesity medicine consultations, continuity obesity clinics, and obesity medicine practice management at Vanderbilt Weight Loss. In addition, there will be opportunity to rotate with the bariatric surgery team and select elective specialty rotations in Pediatric Obesity, Women’s Health, NASH clinic, PCOS clinic, Diabetes, Lipid, Hepatology, and Sleep Medicine, to list a few. The fellow will also take call responsibilities for the medical obesity program.
Obesity Medicine Fellowship Research Training
The Vanderbilt Medical Center and The Vanderbilt Department of Medicine: Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism have a rich history of collaborative and multi-disciplinary research. Fellows can choose research mentors and obtain guidance on projects from any one of the Vanderbilt faculty working in the area of obesity, metabolism and hormonal disorders, diabetes, cardiometabolic hormones, and genetic obesity.
We have a large research portfolio in obesity, not just basic science, but also including behavioral and health system interventions addressing obesity prevention and management in children and adults- including through projects affiliated with the Vanderbilt Center for Health Services Research and the Stakeholders, Research and Technology (STAR) Clinical Research Network. We have implemented multiple instances of the Diabetes Prevention Program, the gold standard behavior, weight and metabolic risk management group program, providing trainees an opportunity to learn about weight-management interventions outside of a traditional fee-for service model.
In addition, the Obesity Medicine Fellow will also have an opportunity to study clinical retrospective and prospective outcomes data generated within Vanderbilt Weight Loss. The center is actively engaged in many active clinical obesity trials. Scholarly activity in the field of obesity medicine is strongly encouraged during the one-year fellowship program while harboring a nurturing mentoring environment.