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Spinal Cord Injury Medicine Fellowship

The Spinal Cord Injury Medicine Fellowship is a 12-month program that focuses on specialized training on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of traumatic spinal cord injury and nontraumatic myelopathies. The program is open to those who have completed an approved residency program in a specialty relevant to the field, such as physical medicine and rehabilitation, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family practice, internal medicine, neurological surgery, neurology, orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, plastic surgery, surgery or urology. Successful completion of the fellowship program satisfies the eligibility requirement to take the Examination in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine to obtain Subspecialty Certification in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine.

The clinical, educational and research activities will involve the resources available through the Acute Spine Injury Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, other departments and programs at NMH and the AbilityLab and Northwestern University Medical School.

About the Program

 Objectives

General Educational Objectives

These objectives are common to all patient physician interaction and should be incorporated into the teaching/education of all rotations.

Patient Care

  • Proficient at obtaining history needed for diagnosis and treatment of impairment, medical issues and secondary complications of spinal cord injury
  • Proficient at performing a physical and neurological examination detailing sources of impairment, identifying medical problems and potential secondary application

Medical Knowledge

  • Understands fundamental basic science concepts especially pertinent to Spinal Cord Medicine (SCM)
  • Recognizes and appropriately responds to the primary care needs of persons with spinal cord injury
  • Utilizes general medicine and subspecialty consultants appropriately

Communication Skills

A caring and empathic attitude is mandatory for the practice of SCM. Effective communication skills are the vehicle for conveying this caring attitude. Residents should learn and implement:

  • Effective communication skills in interacting with patients and family members.
  • Effective communication skills with members of the rehabilitation team, including the leading of team conference.
  • Effective interaction with fellow residents and attending physicians including thorough and organized case presentations.
  • Timely, complete and legible medical records

Practice-Based Learning and Improvement

  • Uses evidence-based medicine to guide decision-making.
  • Makes appropriate application of research and statistical methods
  • Employs appropriate use of information technology
  • Facilitates education of students and other professionals
  • Uses feedback to improve knowledge, skills, or behaviors

Professionalism

  • Shows professional attitudes - reliable, shows initiative and accepts responsibility for own actions
  • Understands interdisciplinary nature of SCM and promotes teamwork and mutual respect
  • Demonstrates respect and compassion for patients and families. Establishes trust and maintains rapport, and avoids inappropriate emotional involvement
  • Understands capabilities of patients when developing management plan.
  • Maintains awareness of the psychosocial effects of spinal cord injury

Systems-Based Practice

  • Understands the scope of local and regional practice and delivery systems
  • Fully evaluates risks, benefits, limitations and costs of available resources .

Specific Educational Objectives for Spinal Cord Medicine Rotations

Acute Initial Care

  • Understands the organization and interdisciplinary nature of emergency medical services
  • Understands techniques of spinal cord immobilization and evaluates stability of spine
  • Understands relationship between extent and level of spinal cord injury on functional capacity
  • Understands the full range of treatment options appropriate for various etiologies of traumatic and nontraumatic spinal cord injury
  • Participates in management of spinal cord injury following operative or nonoperative stabilization, including activity restrictions and orthotic use
  • Anticipate, diagnose and treat complications resulting from spinal cord injury, including respiratory complications, cardiovascular problems, neurogenic bowel and other GI complications, neurogenic bladder and other GU complications, infectious disease, skin problems, and/or psychiatric and psychosocial disorders
  • Initiates rehabilitation programming and establishes rehabilitation goals
  • Collaborates with other health professionals and participates in team meetings in rehabilitation planning

Acute Medical Rehabilitation

  • Perform comprehensive functional assessment
  • Identify functional goals and outcomes as it relates to neurologic level
  • Collaborates with other health professionals and participates in team meetings in rehabilitation planning
  • Understands and prescribes durable medical equipment and assistive devices related to spinal cord injury
  • Identifies indications and use of therapeutic modalities (eg, functional electrical stimulation)
  • Understands indications and contraindications for muscle and tendon transfers and other operative procedures
  • Anticipate, diagnose and treat complications resulting from spinal cord injury, including respiratory complications, cardiovascular problems, neurogenic, psychosocial disorders
  • Understands different levels of care that are appropriate for patient's needs
  • Understand value of and participate in patient and family education

Sustaining/Chronic Care

  • Understand the importance of and participate in the establishment of regular follow-up and preventive health care to maintain patients' maximum health and functional status
  • Understand the importance and value of the coordination of care with local healthcare providers and/or primary care
  • Anticipate, diagnose and treat complications resulting from spinal cord injury, including orthopaedic complications, neurologic complications respiratory complications, cardiovascular problems, neurogenic bowel and other GI complications, neurogenic bladder and other GU complications, infectious disease, skin problems, and/or psychiatric and psychosocial disorders
  • Anticipate problems and plans interventions associated with lifelong care of persons with spinal cord injury
  • Identify community resources available to persons with spinal cord injury

Therapy and Specialty Clinic

  • Identify functional goals and outcomes for self-care, vocational and avocational activities based on neurological level, extent of injury and time since injury
  • Identify purpose, benefits and indications for different therapeutic activities in the rehabilitation of acute and chronic spinal cord injury
  • Identify the unique needs and issues of children and adolescents with spinal cord injury

 Clinical Experience

The fellowship will include clinical experiences in the initial acute care management, acute rehabilitation and outpatient/chronic management of persons with spinal cord dysfunction. During the various clinical rotations, the fellow will work with physicians in the specialties of physical medicine and rehabilitation, orthopedic surgery, neurological surgery, anesthesiology/respiratory/critical care, pediatrics, plastic surgery, urology and neurology. In addition, the clinical experience will involve rotations with other clinical disciplines such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and psychology.

 Teaching & Research Components

Involvement in teaching activities and research are required components of the fellowship. Teaching will involve activities within the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Spinal Cord Injury Program, as well as with medical students from Northwestern University and the residency program in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the AbilityLab. It is expected that the fellow will complete a scholarly research activity during the fellowship year sufficient for national presentation or publication.

 How to Apply

Applicants should submit a completed application, letter of interest, CV and three professional references to the fellowship program director. The application deadline is Sept. 15.

 Why Northwestern?

Housestaff training through McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University provides diverse and challenging clinical experiences and world-class education located in the heart of the beautiful city of Chicago. Learn more via the links to the McGaw website below.

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Contact Us

David Chen, MD

David Chen, MD

Program Director

dchen( at )sralab.org

312-238-0764

View Faculty Profile

Rita Bailey

Fellowship Coordinator

If you have questions or comments, please contact Rita Bailey at rbailey@sralab.org or 312-238-2870.

Fellow

Stephanie Hendrick, MD

Stephanie Hendrick, MD

Hometown: Flushing, MI

Residency: University of Washington

Physician-Scientist Training & Resources

We offer a wide range of resources, mentorship opportunities and training to help our residents and fellows excel as physician-scientists. Explore all of the resources and hear from housestaff who are making research a major part of their career development plans.

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