Adult Spinal Surgery Fellowship

Program Overview
Application Process
Application Requirements
Non-ACGME Additional Requirements
Foreign Medical Graduates
Interview Selection Criteria
Interview Dates
Contact us
Social Media

Program Overview

Program Training DirectorMelissa M. Erickson, MD
Associated faculty: Christopher Shaffrey, MD, William J. Richardson, MD; Brett Rocos, MD; Christopher R. Brown, MDGloria G. Liu, MD, MS, H. Michael Guo, MD, PhD

Fellowship Dates: August 1 through July 31
Number of fellows: Two (non-ACGME)

The goal of the Duke Orthopaedic Adult Spinal Surgery Fellowship is to provide training in the evaluation and treatment of the full spectrum of spinal disorders including Trauma, Degenerative, Deformity, Tumor, and Reconstructive

Fellows will gain experience in the non-operative and operative treatment of primarily adult spinal disorders. Exposure as an observer for surgical treatment of spine deformity in children and adolescents will also be available. Fellows will have a close working relationship with the Department of Neurosurgery, allowing fellows to broaden their experience in evaluating and treating spinal disorders.

Fellows are encouraged to complete a clinical research project while in training. Time will be allotted each week for basic science research in a fully tooled and manned biomechanics laboratory. There are ongoing weekly conferences related to spinal conditions and, additionally, Fellows are encouraged to participate in resident education.

Priority will be given to applicants who commit to a career in academic orthopaedics.

Application Process

Accepting applications: 2025-2026 (Fall 2023)
Match participationSF Match (Program #4375)
Application deadline: November 1

We accept applications through the Central Application Service (CAS), a service provided through SF Match that distributes applications to training programs. Using CAS assures that applications are uniform, complete, and distributed orderly. You must register with the SF Match and pay an additional fee to access CAS. Please refer to SF Match for more information.

Application Requirements

Applicants must apply through the SF Match by completing an online fellowship application form, submitting the program application list and providing the following required documentation.

Submit the following documentation online through the Central Application Service (CAS); for details - refer to CAS Applicant Instructions.

  • Fellowship Application Form
  • Personal Statement
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Letter of Good Standing
  • Three letters of recommendation:
    • Letters must be on official letterhead and may not be older than six months
  • USMLE/COMLEX (or equivalent) transcript - all three steps; passed within three attempts – NCMB requirement
  • Copies of medical license(s)

Non-ACGME Additional Requirements

In order to be eligible for non-ACGME fellowship training:

  • You must provide proof that you have taken and passed all three steps (within three attempts) of appropriate medical licensure examinations (USMLE/COMLEX/FLEX/NBME or Canadian examinations), which the North Carolina Medical Board requires. (This requirement can be waived if you’ve been certified/recertified by an approved specialty board within the past ten years; see medical licensure requirements.)
  • You must qualify for a full medical license in the state of North Carolina
  • You must obtain a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) number to be eligible for employment at Duke University Hospital

Foreign medical graduates: additional requirements

Foreign medical graduates are eligible for this ICGME (non-ACGME) fellowship; however, in addition to meeting the above requirements:

  • Applicant must be a permanent U.S. resident (hold a green card).
    • If the applicant is not a permanent resident, the applicant must be eligible for an H1-B visa. The department will sponsor an H1-B visa only when there are extenuating circumstances and if there are division/section funds available to provide payment for the associated fees approximately $3000.
  • Applicants currently in the U.S. on a J-1 clinical house staff visa are not eligible for an H1-B visa because a J-1 visa cannot be transferred to an H-1B visa due to the 2-year home requirement. However, J-1 research visas are transferrable.
    • Effective 2021: The ECFMG will no longer sponsor J-1 clinical house staff visas for "non-standard" (meaning ICGME-Institutional Council for Graduate Medical Education) programs.
  • For more information, please visit the Duke Visa Services website at

Foreign medical graduates must hold a valid and current ECFMG certificate and meet the above requirements. Your ECFMG Certificate must be valid as of the program's start date. For foreign nationals who are medical graduates of LCME-accredited schools in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, copies of the diploma will suffice instead of an ECFMG certificate.

Interview Selection Criteria

Fellow applicants are selected for an interview based on preparedness, ability, aptitude, academic credentials, communication skills, and personal qualities such as motivation and integrity. In particular, we consider:

  • Educational accomplishments
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Experience
  • Research

Important intangibles that are fundamental to the selection process include:

  • Leadership
  • Work ethic
  • Communication skills
  • Enthusiasm

Additional attributes that our committee considers:

  • Determination
  • Strength of character
  • Overcoming obstacles

Fellow applicants are selected for appointment to our program based on their interview and review of the above-listed criteria.

Interview Dates

For interview date(s), please refer to "Fellowship Progams At-A-Glance" => Click Here.

Interviews are extended to applicants either late Fall or early Winter for interviews occuring in the preceding Winter months.

Contact us

Cheryl DePaolis, Fellowship Program Coordinator

Wendy Thompson, C-TAGME, Senior Program Coordinator, Medical Student Sub-Internship and Residency Training

Tyranicia Green, Program Coordinator, Residency Training and CME Associate for Orthopaedics

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