Over the course of nearly 33 years, more than 200 Johns Hopkins University physicians have completed the IAFF Medical Resident Program.

“The medical residency program is one of our most incredibly successful programs,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “The knowledge and expertise these residents bring are important in understanding job-related illnesses and treatment.”

The program began after delegates at the 1986 IAFF Convention passed a resolution to establish the program, which requires Johns Hopkins University Occupational and Environmental Medicine residents to spend a two-month rotation at the IAFF.

The IAFF educates residents on the duties of professional fire fighters and why they are more susceptible to injuries and occupational diseases. They also learn about labor-management relations dynamics, codes and standards on fire fighter health and advocacy on behalf of the fire fighter population. The residents, in turn, provide assistance to affiliates on fire fighter medical issues, help IAFF staff create educational materials on medical topics and provide professional, expert medical guidance for state and provincial affiliates trying to enact presumptive legislation related to the health of fire fighters.

Dr. Paul Parrish completed his medical residency at the IAFF 15 years ago.

“While I was there, whether fire fighters should be immunized for small pox was in question, so I helped develop resource material on the subject,” says Parrish. “I was also honored to advocate for presumption laws and provide medical opinions to assist members in their medical cases.”

But what really impressed Parrish about the IAFF was how the IAFF takes care of its members. “If a member needed assistance, addressing that need became the priority,” he says.

Another resident, Dr. Yelena Globina, used her time at the IAFF to focus on cancer. “We were taking a close look at causation,” recalls Globina. “I interviewed several members about exposures to cancer-causing toxins to help them receive approval for treatment.”

Parrish now works with Austin, TX Local 975 members as the medical director of its Public Safety Wellness Center. Globina continues to work with IAFF members at the World Trade Center Health Program within the Mount Sinai Health Medical System in New York City.

“The experience these occupational medical residents have at the IAFF is something they can’t get from any book,” says Schaitberger.