Community Health Track

The mission of the Community Health Track (CHT) is to train a new generation of residents to create successful community partnerships and integrate public health concepts into the everyday practice of medicine to improve the health of underserved communities.

The goals of our track are centered on the eight core competencies of community pediatrics as described by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Namely to train residents to:

  • Grasp the breadth of diversity inherent in the pediatric population and be familiar with health-related implications of cultural beliefs and practices of groups represented in the community
  • Recognize the role of the pediatrician in identifying needs and facilitating access to resources for patients, families, and communities
  • Understand the definition of a medical home and how the resident’s continuity site can meet all components of the definition
  • Be aware of the risks to health and barriers to care for underserved children in Washington, DC, and demonstrate skill in improving access to continuous comprehensive health maintenance
  • Appreciate key issues related to the pediatrician’s role and interactions with local community agencies and advocacy groups
  • Value the role of schools and child-care settings in supporting the educational and psychosocial development of children and adolescents
  • Apply key principles about health promotion and disease prevention for children and adolescents in a longitudinal project
  • Observe, interpret, and report observations about the communities in which they serve

The training for the CHT is integrated with the overall pediatrics residency program to ensure excellence in attainment of clinical skills, and to allow residents the opportunity to work with our top-rated hospitalist and subspecialist physicians. The majority of inpatient time for the Community Health Track mirrors that of the Categorical Track. The fundamental difference in this track lies in the outpatient experiences that occur in all three years of training. The Community Health Track utilizes these outpatient experiences to help residents to attain a well-rounded community pediatrics experience. Washington, DC, is incredibly diverse with large numbers of minority populations and immigrants from all over the world. Given that DC is our nation’s capital, many organizations have national headquarters here and residents have the unique opportunity to work with groups that are influencing not only local policy but also national policy as it relates to children and health care.

Our Residents

Our Residents

We currently accept 8 residents per class to the Community Health Track.

Current CHT residents:

Nicole Akar-Ghibril
Carla Gordon
Christina Harris
Sirisha Jonnalagadda
Erin Phillips
Ankoor Shah
Shuojing Song
Cristina Tuluca

Julie Berg
Binny Chokshi
Kofi Essel
Megan Gray
Shaunte Henry
Anna Hoffius
Julie Krueger

Jessica O'Babatunde
Alexandra Sardi
Heidi Schumacher
Kristy Wesighan

What our residents are saying:

"Each resident in the Community Track embodies what I envisioned fellow trackers would be--smart, passionate, and truly dedicated to advocating for children outside the realm of medical wards and clinic."

"I love the electives that are built into the curriculum and most importantly I really feel like I have learned from everyone within the track. There is great camaraderie and the diversity of the group adds so much to everyone's experience."

"I think the community track empowers you to get involved with advocacy on different levels in Washington, DC -- both legislative (including at the national and city/state level) and grassroots -- and with different partners (non-profit groups, educational systems, professional medical groups, governmental organizations). It has some structure to it, but allows plenty of room for you to take on your own projects."

"My decision to pursue a career as a physician was driven by a desire to provide health care to underserved communities and to those who have historically, been dwarfed by society. When looking for a residency program, it was essential that I found a training program whose goals and philosophies were in-line with my vision. Children’s National was one of the few places that I looked at that offered a CHT, focused not only on urban healthcare issues, but also on government/health policy, international health, advocacy, and research. I was thoroughly impressed by the available electives that were offered as part of this track and furthermore, by talking with individuals who were part of this program, I know I would finish my training as a more socially conscious and responsible pediatrician for the community. Everyday, I learn so much from my electives, my patients, my co-residents and mentors. It has been a wonderful experience!"

Our Faculty

Our Faculty

Melanie Anspacher, MD
Undergraduate: Brown University
Medical School: University of California, San Francisco
Residency: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Primary Role within Community Health Track: Director, Global Health Curriculum
Interests: Child health in developing countries, resident education on global health, and pediatric asthma care and education

Denice Cora-Bramble, MD, MPH
Undergraduate: George Washington University
Medical School: Howard University
Residency: Howard University
Other Education: Masters of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University
W.K. Kellogg Foundation Leadership Fellowship
Primary Role within Community Health Track: Senior Vice President, Diana L. and Stephen A. Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health
Interests: Access to healthcare services for underserved populations, cultural competency, health disparities, community-based education, and leadership development

Allison M. Jackson, MD, MPH
Undergraduate: Harvard Radcliffe University
Medical School: Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Residency: Children's National Health System
Other Education: Master Teacher Certificate in Medical Education, Graduate Certificate in Leadership Development, DC Clinical Research Training Consortium Program Fellow
Primary Role within Community Health Track: Division Chief, Child & Adolescent Protection Center (CAPC), Director, CAPC Rotation
Academic Interests: Medical education on child abuse and family violence, improving the recognition of child abuse by medical professionals

Cara Lichtenstein, MD, MPH
Undergraduate: Brown University
Medical School: Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Residency: Children’s Hospital at Montefiore
Other Education: Fellowship in General Academic Pediatrics/Community-Oriented Primary Care; Masters in Public Health at George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services; Master Teacher and Leadership Development Program
Primary Role within Community Health Track: Director, Community Health Track, Associate Residency Program Director
Interests: Integrating public health into primary care, resident education, and early childhood development

Lee Savio Beers, MD
Undergraduate: College of William and Mary
Medical School: Emory University School of Medicine
Residency: Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
Other Education: Master Teacher and Leadership Development Program
Primary Role within Community Health Track: Director, Child Health Advocacy Institute Rotation
Academic Interests: Adolescent parents, teen pregnancy, early childhood brain development, mental health in primary care

Marceé J. White, MD
Undergraduate: Xavier University of Louisiana
Medical School: George Washington University
Residency: Children’s National Health System/Howard University Community Health Track
Chief Residency:  Children's National Health System
Other Education: Master Teacher Leadership Development Program at George Washington University.
Primary Role within Community Health Track: Assistant Program Director; Associate Medical Director of the Children's Health Center at THEARC; Continuity Clinic Preceptor; Director, THEARC Rotation
Academic Interests:  resident and student education, health disparities, dental health, and advocating for vulnerable populations and underserved communities

Track Projects

Track Projects

Community Health Track (CHT) residents are required to develop a longitudinal project that they design and implement during the course of training. The topic of the project is chosen using the Community-Oriented Primary Care (COPC) model to perform a health needs assessment and problem prioritization in the local community where they choose to focus their work. Trainees are guided through the COPC process during their Community Building Blocks rotation in the first year. Once a project focus is chosen at the end of the first year, residents are connected with one of the many CHT faculty members doing community work on this topic. This faculty member will serve as a project mentor for the remaining two years.

Residents will have a half-day per week through the REACH program during their second and third years to work on their project. Further time in the third year is devoted to work on completing the project. Residents also may use elective time to work on their project.

By the end of their training, residents will be expected to:
  • Develop and implement a community-based health intervention
  • Apply for a CATCH (Community Access to Child Health) grant through the American Academy of Pediatrics or other similar grant
  • Submit an abstract to present work at a regional or national meeting
  • Present their work to their fellow trainees in the form of a noon conference

Project Examples

  • Creation of a program to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy and decrease the transmission of sexually transmitted infections among adolescents in Ward 8, Washington, DC
  • The “Use of Community Benefit as Catalyst for Improving Health Outcomes” project looks at Children’s obligation to provide a community benefit can be used to improve health outcomes in the community.
  • Early Head Start Project that places residents in an Early Head Start classroom and then teaches them skills to provide a health information session for parents of those children.
  • FitFamily: A Nutrition and Wellness program for the Prevention of Childhood Obesity evaluation looking at how to improve program compliance among the African American community and how obesity programs may be expanded to additional neighborhoods in DC.
  • Community Acceptance and Patient use of a mobile phone messaging program to Improve Hospitalization follow-up in Quito, Ecuador.

Community Health Track Resident Accomplishments 2008-2012

Grant Funding Received:

  • Children’s National Health System Child Health Center Board Grant
  • Global Health Research Grant, University of Michigan Center for Global Health
  • Children’s National Child Health Center Board Resident International Travel Grant
  • AAP Community Pediatrics Training Initiative Residency Training Grant
  • AAP Resident CATCH Grant
  • Coleman Fund for Resident International Travel Grant
  • HRSA Primary Care Expansion Grant

Projects Presented at:

  • Region IV Academic Pediatric Association Conference
  • Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting
  • American Academic of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition
  • National Association for Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions Annual Conference
  • 19th Annual Global Health Education Consortium Conference
  • American Federation for Medical Research Eastern Regional Meeting
  • Society of Academic Emergency Medicine Annual Meeting
  • NMA Pediatric Section Scientific Assembly
  • American Federation for Medical Research Eastern Regional Meeting

Awards Received:

  • First Prize in the Education, Training and Program Development Category, 10th Annual Children’s National Health System Research Day
  • ACGME David C. Leach Award

Articles accepted for publication in:

  • International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
  • Journal of Hand Surgery
  • Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
  • Pediatric Emergency Care


PL-1 Rotations

The goal of the first year of training is to become familiar with the local community and the concepts of Community-Oriented Primary Care (COPC). By the end of the first year, residents are expected to use the COPC model to identify a health need in the community that will be the basis of a longitudinal project.

  • Outpatient Acute Care (OAC): Residents spend one full block at their community-based continuity site, allowing them the opportunity to learn about the community in which they practice, as well as how a community clinic functions.
  • Community Building Blocks: During this four-week rotation, residents are expected to learn skills and techniques that will help them improve the healthcare of children in the community, using a curriculum that highlights seven areas of community pediatrics. Some sample activities include completing a community asset map, taking local transportation from your clinic to the main hospital to understand how long it may take for one of your patients to do so, or visiting the local pharmacy to appreciate prices of commonly recommended products. In addition, residents will receive didactic sessions on the basic concepts of Community-Oriented Primary Care and begin to do a community needs assessment.

PL-2 Rotations

During their second year, residents will have a half-day a week to work on their longitudinal projects. They will spend the majority of this time cultivating a relationship with a community-based organization that works on their identified health area of concentration and will work with them to derive a plan for a healthcare intervention to address this need. Residents spend their outpatient block rotations learning the basics of advocacy and health policy.

  • Child and Adolescent Protection Center: Residents will spend two weeks working at the Freddie Mac Child and Adolescent Protection Center at Children’s National. During this time, residents will have the opportunity to participate in the evaluation of various forms of child maltreatment for both inpatients and outpatients, and to learn what a child and family may experience when a report of abuse is made and how a multidisciplinary team works together to meet the needs of vulnerable children. By the end of the rotation, residents are expected to understand what history and physical exam findings are important to elicit, identify and document in cases of abused children and how the local legal system works in relation to abuse cases.
  • Health Policy Fellowship (George Washington University School of Public Health): This three-week rotation held in conjunction with the GWU School of Public Health gives residents a broad overview of the background and context of health policy in the United States. Residents will be introduced to key issues in health policy and to a sampling of key individuals and organizations in the field. The rotation culminates in a health policy analysis exercise where participants perform their own policy analysis and create recommendations related to a current issue being debated by Congress.
  • Global Health Elective: During this one-week rotation, residents will be exposed to global health issues such as the diagnosis and management of common illnesses and tropical diseases affecting children in developing countries, child and newborn survival in developing countries, and allocation of limited resources. Additionally, residents will meet local healthcare professionals working in the fields of global health research, policy, and clinical care. This rotation also will provide residents an opportunity to prepare for international elective experiences or future work in a developing country.
  • The Child Health Advocacy Institute/Advocacy Selective: During this four-week block, residents will be introduced to basic advocacy tools such as meetings with government officials, using the media, and grassroots campaigns. Residents will choose one issue important to pediatric health, research that issue, and use newly learned advocacy skills to advance that issue. Residents also will partner with a local community-based advocacy agency and learn how it works to improve children’s health. At the end of the rotation, residents will be expected to deliver a noon conference on their chosen issue highlighting how advocacy techniques were applied.

PL-3 Rotations

The main goals of this year are completion of the longitudinal project and continued development of community pediatrics knowledge.

  • Outpatient Acute Care (OAC): Residents will again spend a full block at their continuity site, not only seeing their own panel of continuity patients, but serving as a teacher and mentor to more junior residents and medical students rotating through that clinical setting.
  • Research Completion: In addition to the continued protected half-day a week to work on their longitudinal project, residents will have additional time dedicated to finalize project work and put together a proposal for presentation at a regional or national meeting. Residents also will complete a Quality Improvement Project during this time.
  • THEARC / Mobile Van: The Town Hall Education, Arts and Recreation Campus (THEARC) is a unique facility that serves as a community center for one of the most underserved areas of Washington, DC. The facility serves as the fixed clinic site for a Children’s Health Center and it is the base for the Children’s Health Project of DC Mobile Health Program which consists of medical and dental mobile units. Community partners within THEARC include the Boys and Girls Club, a middle school for girls, a ballet school, a music school, and an art school. During this rotation, third year residents have the opportunity to experience and witness the advanced medical home model. The rotation and its activities focus on vulnerable populations (i.e. the uninsured and children in foster care), oral health, mental health, community partnerships, and the medical home concept. Resident experience how the staff interacts in a medical home with oral health providers, mental health professionals, local schools and various community organizations to improve the health of children in the District of Columbia and nationally.

Continuity Clinics

Children's National Community Health Track residents attend continuity clinics in the community at sites affiliated with the Children's Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health in both Northwest and Southeast DC as well as several Federally Qualified Community Health Centers in Northwest DC. Education in continuity clinic sessions is focused on a blend of primary care and community pediatrics. The staff members are very familiar and active within the community they serve. Each site typically has one resident from each year of the community track, so residents have the opportunity to interact with peers in the Track as well as their community preceptors.


At the beginning of their first year, each CHT resident is assigned a portfolio advisor who is committed to community pediatrics. As topics for longitudinal projects are identified, additional mentors will be assigned to each resident. Additionally, all of the faculty members of the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health are available to offer career advice for our residents.

CHT Symposia / Journal Club

Semiannually, the director of the Track hosts a journal club or symposia at her home related to a resident chosen community health topic. These evening symposia afford residents and faculty the opportunity to engage in educational discussions on a wide variety of current issues in community health as well as a chance to for residents in the track to catch up with each other.

Foggy Bottom Didactics

During certain outpatient rotations, CHT residents have the opportunity to join colleagues in the Primary Care Track for a once-weekly morning of didactic sessions focused on general primary care pediatrics topics.