Spine Program


Neurospine Program Description

The goal of the fellowship is to provide board eligible graduates of neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery training programs with clinical and research experience in preparation for an academic or clinical career in spine surgery. The Departments of Orthopaedic and Neurological Surgery sponsor the fellowship. The fellow will gain expertise in diagnosing and treating all aspects of adult spinal disease, with particular emphasis on degenerative disorders. Each of the staff will participate in the fellow’s education providing exposure to a variety of specialized surgical techniques and approaches. Conditions treated will include adult spinal deformity, adult degenerative scoliosis, tumors, trauma, infections and degenerative spinal disease. The fellow will learn both conservative and surgical treatment of spinal disorders and the surgical decision making involved in managing these patients. Microsurgical, endoscopic, minimally invasive and anatomy preserving techniques will be taught in addition to traditional surgical techniques. The fellow will assume progressive responsibility in the preoperative evaluation, surgical care, postoperative management, rehabilitation, and follow-up evaluation of patients. The fellowship will be one year in duration but may potentially be extended to two years depending upon the individual’s research interests. Fellows will be interviewed and appointed by a Selection Committee comprised of orthopedic spine and spine neurosurgical faculty.

Fellowship Co-Directors:
John Pollina, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Neurosurgery

Joseph Kowalski, MD
Department of Orthopaedics.

Facilities: Kaleida Health System including but not limited to Buffalo General Medical Center. One additional facility that the fellow will be training is at Erie County Medical Center.

Admission: There will be one fellow admitted to the program per year.

Duration: The fellowship will be one year in duration.

Impact on Residents: The program is currently experiencing approximately 1700 spine procedures per year. The role of the fellow will be as a co-first assistant with a neurosurgery resident. This arrangement will enhance the educational experience of our residents by providing a greater variety of spinal cases. It will also allow for the opportunity to do more spine based research in association with the fellow.

Fellow operative procedures: It is anticipated that the fellow will complete an estimated 400 operative procedures for the year. Anticipated start date: August 1 of each year

Curriculum

The fellow will have the following responsibilities:

  • Evaluation of emergency patients to be admitted, after initial assessment by neurosurgery senior residents. 2. Coordination of staff coverage and formulation of
  • Coordination of staff coverage and formulation of overall plan of care.
  • Coordinate weekly spine conference.
  • Attend all spine conferences in both Neurosurgery and Orthopaedics.
  • Present grand rounds conference.
  • Coordinate monthly Spine Journal Club.
  • Author clinical research publications and present their work at national conferences

Clinical Responsibilities

Rotations may vary somewhat depending upon the background of the individual and his or her needs, but would typically be three months in duration for each rotation and include rotations with three neurosurgeons and two orthopedic surgeons over the twelve months. Each of the staff will participate in the fellow’s education providing exposure to a variety of specialized surgical techniques and approaches. Conditions treated will include adult spine deformity, adult degenerative scoliosis, tumors, trauma, infections and degenerative spine disease. The fellow will learn both conservative and surgical treatment of spine disease. Microsurgical, endoscopic, and minimally invasive/anatomy preserving techniques will be taught in addition to traditional surgical techniques. The fellow will assume progressive responsibility in the assessment, preoperative evaluation, surgical care, postoperative management, rehabilitation, and follow-up evaluation of these patients.

  • Role on services is as a co-first assistant with a neurosurgery resident.
  • Fellow will not take regular call.
  • Distribution of cases will be determined by attending staff.

Research

Each fellow is responsible for at least one clinical research project that is to be completed before the fellowship ends.

Additional clinical or basic science projects are encouraged.

Fellow may apply to continue training for an additional year to complete projects and acquire additional research experience.

The fellow will have one day every week to devote to research. Research projects include but are not limited to:

  • Biomechanics testing in the MTS spine lab
  • Implantation in our IACUC approved animal facility
  • Clinical data collection for prospective and retrospective series

Inpatient Spine Consultation

Fellow evaluates all consultation requests when he or she is on the spine consultation service.
Coordinate staff consultation and patient care.

Supervision

A board-certified Spine Neurosurgeon (faculty member), Neurosurgeon or Orthopaedic Surgeon is available in the hospital or via pager/cell phone 24/7 to supervise patient care activities and direct decision making.  The fellow will learn alongside and may provide teaching and/or supervision to residents and medical students on the service, as applicable.

Evaluations
A yearly evaluation will be completed by the neurosurgical faculty and then a final evaluation is completed by the program director.  These forms are generated by our Department.  At the end of the year all results are discussed.  The final evaluation will become part of the fellow’s permanent record and will be maintained at the institution.

Faculty Evaluations:
Fellows have the opportunity annually to assess the Neurosurgical and Orthopaedic faculty.

Program Evaluations:
At the end of the fellowship program the fellow will be asked to evaluate our fellowship program.  In addition, there will be a discussion with the program director regarding the fellowship throughout the term of the fellowship.

Qualifications

Qualified applicants must have a New York State Medical License and have successfully completed an approved residency in neurosurgery or Orthopaedic surgery. Foreign medical school graduates must have satisfactorily completed the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), English and Visa Qualifying Examination (VQE), or the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in the Medicine Sciences (FMGEMS) to be eligible.

Application Process

Applications for each academic year, which begins July 1, should be completed by February 1. If you are considered for an appointment, you will be asked to visit for an interview with the program directors and selected faculty. Applications for each academic year, which begins July 1, should be completed by February 1. If you are considered for an appointment, you will be asked to visit for an interview with the program directors and selected faculty.

Interviews are generally conducted annually in January, February, March and April.

To apply to the Spine Surgery Fellowship Program, you need to submit:

  • A completed SUNY Buffalo School of Graduate Medical Education application form. Copy of medical diploma. 3. Official college, graduate
  • Copy of medical diploma.
  • Official college, graduate school and medical school transcripts.
  • Official test transcripts for all applicable examinations (USMLE, LMCC, COMLEX, NBOME, FMGEMS, FLEX or NBME).
  • A dean’s letter and two other letters of recommendation.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • A personal statement.
  • A valid ECFMG certificate (if you graduated from medical school outside of the United States or Canada.
  • Letters of recommendation from your fellowship and residency program directors.

Please send the required materials listed above in one envelope to:

Spine Fellowship
Attn: John Pollina, MD
Department of Neurosurgery
University at Buffalo
3980A Sheridan Drive
Amherst, NY 14226

Program Contacts

For more information about the Spine Surgery Fellowship Program, please contact:
Mary Pocobello: Administrative Assistant for Dr. Pollina
Phone: (716) 218-1000 extension
E-mail: mpocobello@ubns.com

For e-mail requests, please include:

  • Name of the fellowship in which you are interested.
  • Your name, address and phone number.
  • Your medical school and year of graduation.
  • Your previous residency or fellowship training

Sincerely,

John Pollina, MD, FACS
Program Director, Spine Fellowship
University at Buffalo Neurosurgery