Adult Spinal Surgery Fellowship

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

Dates: August 1 through July 31
Program training directorMelissa M. Erickson, MD
Associated facultyWilliam J. Richardson, MD; Brett Rocos, MD; Christopher R. Brown, MDPhillip H. Horne, MD, PhDGloria G. Liu, MD, MS
Number of fellows: Two (non-ACGME)

Fellows will gain experience in both 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, which will allow fellows to broaden their experience in the evaluation and treatment of 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 have a commitment to a career in academic orthopaedics.

Alumni Society

Graduating fellows of the Duke Adult Spinal program will become part of the prestigious Piedmont Orthopedic Society. Induction into this group of life-long learners includes access to an annual meeting and alumni reunions at events such as the AAOS annual meeting, and the annual meeting of the Piedmont Society.

How to apply

Accepting applications: 2024-2025 (Fall 2022)
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. The use of CAS assures that applications are uniform, complete, and distributed in an orderly fashion. You must register with SF Match and pay an additional fee in order to access CAS. Please refer to SF Match for more information. 

What you’ll need

  • CAS Distribution Choices and Payment (online submission)
  • CAS Application Service (online submission)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation:
    • One of which should be from the chairman or program training director of your training program
    • Letters must be on official letterhead and may not be older than six months
  • Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE)
    • International graduates applicants may submit a fourth letter of recommendation in lieu of an MSPE
  • Copy of USMLE/COMLEX transcript (all three steps; passed within three attempts)
  • ECFMG Certificate (applicable to international graduates)
  • Copies of medical license(s)

Non-ACGME application 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 is required by the North Carolina Medical Board. (This requirement can be waived if you’ve been certified/recertified by an approved specialty board within the past 10 years; see medical licensure requirements.)
  • Qualify for a full medical license in the state of North Carolina
  • Obtain a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) number in order 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 fees associated with the H1-B visa (i.e. $460 petition fee, $500 fraud fee, and $2500 premium processing fee) totaling $3460.
    • Applicants who are 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 visa's for “non-standard” (meaning ICGME-Institutional Council for Graduate Medical Education) programs.
  • Foreign medical graduates must hold a valid and current ECFMG Certificate. 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 in lieu of an ECFMG Certificate.
  • For more information, please visit the Duke Visa Services website at

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Cheryl DePaolis
Fellowship Program Coordinator
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Duke University School of Medicine

Wendy Thompson/Tyranicia Green
Residency and Fellowship Program Coordinators
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Duke University School of Medicine