In the Spotlight

Dr. Raymond Watts, the LSUHSC Department of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital

Raymond G. Watts, M.D.
Department Head, Pediatrics, LSUHSC-New Orleans
Pediatrician-In-Chief, Children’s Hospital New Orleans

RG Watts Photo The LSUHSC Department of Pediatrics (DOP) boasts eighty-one full time faculty members with an additional seven faculty members scheduled to join the Department in the summer of 2018. The Department consists of faculty focused in all areas of academic pediatrics and representing all sub-specialties of pediatrics. The DOP’s Core Beliefs and Missions emphasize “Excellence in Education”, “Excellence in Patient Care”, “Advocacy for Patients, Learners and Colleagues” and a dedication to “Inquiry and Advancement of New Medical Knowledge”. DOP faculty members hold twenty-six professorships or endowed chairs. The Department is dedicated to the Health System goals of diversity and inclusion and currently 65% of faculty represent at least one of the targeted diversity categories of emphasis.

Education is the primary mission of the DOP. One hundred pediatric graduate medical education trainees are represented in ten distinct categorical (Pediatrics), combined (Med-Peds and Peds-EM) and fellowship programs in the Department. In addition, LSU DOP faculty are the primary regional resource of pediatric-specific interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary training of learners in the fields of medicine, nursing, physician assistant, speech therapy, dentistry, nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, pharmacy and echocardiography students. The LSU DOP faculty further participate in the training of residents and fellows from many associated training programs including Family Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Adult Allergy and Immunology and Adult Rheumatology.

Patient care is the second pillar of emphasis. The DOP faculty and trainees provide care for more than 75% of the children hospitalized at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans (CHNOLA), our primary hospital partner. In addition, DOP faculty provide the sub-specialty support and much of the medical leadership support to CHNOLA. Children’s Hospital is in the midst of a multi-year transformational process. The current 224-bed facility, Louisiana’s only free-standing pediatric hospital, is completely re-inventing itself, as part of a $300 million expansion project. The five-year project, due for completion in late 2020, was recently named one of the thirteen most important construction and development projects in the nation by the Small Business Exchange. New hospital leadership includes President and Chief Executive Officer, John Nickens, IV, and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. George Bisset, III, both recruited from the senior leadership team of Texas Children’s Hospital. In recognition of the central partnership of the LSU DOP to CHNOLA, Department Head, Dr. Raymond Watts, was recently named Children’s Hospital’s first Pediatrician-In-Chief.

Advocacy for patients, learners and colleagues is highlighted by key initiatives in physician and trainee wellness championed by the DOP. A multidisciplinary DOP Wellness Committee is emphasizing important attention to wellness, and provider and trainee burnout prevention. Between its initiation in 2016 and today, the Wellness Committee has managed to educate, empower, facilitate, and challenge our Pediatric community to “Heal the Healer” and pro-actively attack the important issues manifested by provider burnout. In addition, monthly Chairman’s Ethics Conferences emphasize the art of medicine and the many challenges we face in advocacy for our patients and families.

Inquiry and the advancement of new knowledge is crucial to our other three Departmental Missions. Despite significant educational and patient care responsibilities, the DOP remains active in academic pursuits, publishing one hundred and fifty-three manuscripts and nine book chapters in 2016 and 2017. The Department is working closely with CHNOLA leaders to re-build and expand research infrastructure eroded in the last decade.

The year 2020 holds great promise for the already successful LSUHSC Department of Pediatrics. Completion of long-awaited facility expansion and re-vitalization combined with the increasingly reciprocal partnership between the Department and CHNOLA says our best days are ahead.

[Dr. Raymond G. Watts serves as the Professor and Head, Department of Pediatrics at LSUHSC School of Medicine – New Orleans. He is a Full Professor and holder of the William H. Stewart, MD Chair in Pediatrics. He is a native of West Monroe, Louisiana and a graduate of the LSUHSC School of Medicine-Shreveport. Following Pediatric internship and residency at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Pediatric Hematology-Oncology fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Dr. Watts served in multiple roles at UAB, including Division Director of Pediatric Hematology Oncology, Director of the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, Residency Program Director for Pediatrics and Internal-Medicine Pediatrics and President of the Medical Staff and Medical Executive Committee at Children’s of Alabama, prior to joining LSU as Department Head in 2015.]