New spine fellowship integrates orthopaedics and neurosurgery

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery recently announced a new Spine Fellowship for the 2015-16 academic year. The fellowship, which hopes to bring two or three new spine specialists to the University of Minnesota, will be uniquely integrated with both orthopaedics and neurosurgery for applicants who have successfully completed an orthopaedics or neurosurgery residency. The program will be one of only a handful of spine fellowships in the country that uses a full-spectrum orthopaedic and neurosurgery approach to train future spine surgeons.

The University has a long history of renowned spine fellowships that dates back to 1971. As a world-class spine care provider, the Spine Division has performed high-quality treatments for spine issues like scoliosis, tumors, and fractures for decades. In the past, spine fellows have trained with top surgeons in our University clinics. Over the years, these fellowships have been partnered with other hospitals and surgery centers in the Twin Cities, eventually leaving the University altogether around 2005.

Now, faculty members in our Orthopaedic Surgery and Neurosurgery departments are bringing an all-new, integrated spine fellowship to the school. The goal of this program will be to give the fellows a broad-spectrum exposure to human spine pathology and treatment techniques, while training the fellows to be life-long learners who continue to develop their skills, techniques, and understanding throughout their careers, according to fellowship director Robert Morgan, M.D.

“It’s an integrated, full-spectrum program with an emphasis on education. They’re not here to boost productivity. We want to educate future spine surgeons on how to look at the human spine,” Morgan said “It’s an area where there is an immense amount of misunderstanding and misinformation, and we want to try to correct that.”

Fellows in this program will have the opportunity to work with both orthopaedic and neurosurgery specialists in the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Fellows coming in with a strong background in orthopaedic surgery will spend the majority of their time working with Ann Parr, M.D., Ph.D., and Matt Hunt, M.D., both from the Department of Neurosurgery. Similarly, fellows coming to the program with a history of training in neurosurgery will primarily train with Morgan and his colleague David Polly, M.D. By the end of their year at the University, fellows should have a deep understanding of each field, which will enable them to provide more complete spinal care.

“Our goal is to have someone who is capable of taking care of the human spine-–operative, non-operative--and that isn’t necessarily a shared goal with other fellowships,” Morgan said.

Anyone looking to apply for the new fellowship must submit their CV to the department by January 31, 2015. Learn how to apply.