The three-year fellowship, one of 61 in the United States, significantly will improve access to gynecologic cancer care for women in Alabama.
By Carol McPhail
USA Health is establishing a gynecologic oncology fellowship program to train physicians who diagnose and treat women’s reproductive cancers.
The three-year fellowship, one of 61 in the United States, significantly will improve access to gynecologic cancer care for women in Alabama, said Rodney P. Rocconi, M.D., program director and professor of gynecologic oncology at the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute.
Rocconi noted that there are only 13 practicing gynecologic oncologists in Alabama.
“Only 54 percent of women with a gynecologic cancer in Alabama ever see a GYN oncologist. Seeing a specialist for GYN cancer care significantly improves survival, so it is important for women to have the access they need,” he said. “We hope that this fellowship will train future doctors to treat women’s cancer as well as prepare future GYN oncologists to lead the field in clinical trials, reducing health disparities and advancing the latest treatment techniques.”
The fellowship program, recently approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, includes two years of clinical training and one year of basic science and clinical research.
The first fellow, Annelise Wilhite, M.D., is a graduate of the OB/GYN residency program at the University of Minnesota. Since July 2020, she has been working as a postdoctoral fellow in the GYN oncology lab at the MCI. Wilhite begins her fellowship training in July.
In addition to focusing on the study and treatment of malignancies of the female reproductive tract, Wilhite will be involved in all aspects of clinical and surgical care. She and future fellows will assist in teaching medical students and residents about the care of women’s cancers. Applicants for the USA Health GYN oncology fellowship must be anticipated to complete an OB/GYN residency no later than June 2022. All applications are accepted through ERAS and the program.
The new fellowship program will add one fellow each year to reach a total of three fellows training simultaneously.