Jennifer Pier, M.D., is where she is now because of a stuffy nose.
Pier was a pediatrics resident completing her rotation in the Allergy/Immunology department last year when a patient came in with severe congestion.
“It was completely affecting his quality of life,” she said. “It was hard for him to breathe, hard for him to concentrate.”
Pier prescribed a nasal spray, and by the child’s follow-up visit, he had made a complete turnaround. He was back to playing sports and was paying better attention in school.
“It was amazing to see what kind of effect we could have, even with a simple treatment,” said Pier.
Pier was hooked — she knew right then and there that a career in the field was the right path for her.
After completing her pediatrics residency in June, Pier began a two-year fellowship in Allergy/Immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). The program equips doctors with the knowledge and skills they need to provide specialized care in the field.
During her two years of training, Pier will work alongside the department’s physicians, learning from them and gaining more autonomy as she progresses through the program.
In addition to clinical service, the fellowship program also includes a dedicated, nine-month research track. Pier plans to use the time to advance research on Food Protein-Entercolitis Syndrome (FPIES), a type of food allergy that affects the gastrointestinal tract.
“Many kids with FPIES have severe vomiting and diarrhea, and it’s often not recognized as a food allergy at first,” said Pier. “It’s one aspect of our field that is really up and coming.”
Once her training is complete, Pier hopes to practice in Rochester. Fellowship programs are the most reliable pipeline of future faculty, and at URMC, 45 percent of fellows go on to become faculty after they complete their training.
“I’m a Western New York native, through and through,” said Pier. “I really like the idea of practicing where I grew up and helping the people who raised me.”