Residencies & Fellowships

Spine Surgery Fellowships

Spine Surgery Fellowship Overview

  • One Fellow per year.

  • Twelve-month intensive specialty training in spinal surgery at an academic private practice in Phoenix, Arizona. Surgery is from occiput to coccyx, covering degenerative, deformity, tumor, infection, trauma, in adults and children, taught by 7 spine surgeons with faculty affiliation with Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and the University of Arizona School of Medicine - Phoenix. Fellows also have the opportunity to participate in clinical research with the Sonoran Spine Research Foundation. Pay is competitive, with 2 weeks of vacation and one paid meeting attendance.

Candidate Requirements

  • Graduation from an accredited medical school with MD or DO degree. The accrediting body for MD schools is The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), an accrediting body for educational programs at schools of allopathic medicine in the United States and Canada. The LCME is sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges. DO-granting medical schools are accredited by the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.

  • Successful completion of an accredited residency in Orthopedic Surgery or Neurosurgery by the start of the Spine Surgery Fellowship as recognized by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

  • Letter of recommendation from spine mentor in the applicant’s residency program.

  • Eligible for an Arizona medical license.

  • Physicians with medical school or residency training outside the United States: Due to the requirements of obtaining a medical license to practice medicine in the State of Arizona for physicians who trained outside of the US, we are unable to consider applications from outside the US. The Research Fellowship (non-clinical) is an excellent option for these applicants, since there is no need for an Arizona medical license.

Application Process

  • The Sonoran Spine Fellowship participates through the Spine Surgery Fellowship match program sponsored by the North American Spine Society, Scoliosis Research Society, and the Cervical Spine Research Society. Applications are submitted through the match website.

  • Registration for applicants typically begins in August of the year prior to the match. This usually falls early during the 4th year of residency training.

  • Interviews usually fall between December and March of the match year. We try and provide a few interview dates for applicants to choose from.

Match results typically are released in April, one year and 4 months prior to the Fellowship beginning.

Fellowship Faculty


Residency – U of Iowa
Fellowship – Washington University (Lenke, Riew, Bridwell)
Assistant Professor, University of Arizona
Faculty, Mayo Clinic Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program
Interests – adult and pediatric deformity, complex revision surgery, cervical deformity


Residency – St. Louis University
Fellowship – University of Maryland and Maryland Shock Trauma Center (Edwards, Levine)
Clinical Professor, University of Arizona School of Medicine
Adjunct Associate Professor, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
Faculty, Mayo Clinic Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program
Interests – adult and pediatric deformity, spine trauma, complex revision surgery, degenerative


Residency – University of Missouri – Kansas City
Fellowship – Center for Spine, Denver, Colorado (Janssen)
Faculty, Mayo Clinic Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program
Interests – Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS), cervical and lumbar disc replacement, degenerative, cervical spine, complex revision surgery


Resideny – Duke University
Fellowship – William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan (Herkowitz, Fischgrund)
Interests - Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS), degenerative cervical and lumbar, robotics, integrative orthopedics


Residency – University of Florida
Fellowship – Emory University (Boden, Heller)
Interests - Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS), complex cervical surgery, degenerative disease cervical and lumbar, work injuries

What makes our Fellowship unique?

  • Junior Faculty: Fellows are treated like junior faculty.  They are NOT used to get work done in place of a PA or a Resident or relied on to generate revenue for the Center.  Clinical life goes on with or without a Fellow on the service.  Fellows are there to learn and do.  There is no scut work.  

  • Case volume: Surgeons at Sonoran Spine perform more than 1500 surgeries a year.

  • Case diversity: Occiput, cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum, coccyx, anterior, posterior, lateral, degenerative, deformity, trauma, tumor, infection

  • Faculty exposure / Mentor model: Though we are big, we are not so big that the Fellow is sharing cases with the residents.  There is plenty of work to go around.  Fellows are attached to faculty during specific rotations to maximize learning.

  • Weekly Teaching Conference:  Fellows present the week’s cases he or she will be involved in every Monday morning in spine conference.  This is run in the style of the Orthopedic Oral Board Exam. Several options are discussed for each surgical problem and it is a great learning experience for the Fellow.  Residents also participate and present a topic pre-assigned.  

  • Adult and Peds: All ages are seen.  Pediatric deformity is included. 

  • Deformity:  Several faculty members have particular interest in deformity, and we see a high number of revision scoliosis and kyphosis patients.  Anterior, lateral, and posterior surgical techniques, osteotomies, vertebral column resections, and other techniques are commonly used.

  • Tumor:  Dr. Waldrop has particular training and interest in spinal tumors

  • Minimally Invasive Surgical techniques:  Several faculty members routinely use MIS techniques in their surgery.  Dr. Chung devotes his entire practice to MIS surgery. 

  • Teaching and Research Opportunities: With medical students and residents from both Mayo Medical School and University of Arizona consistently on our spine service, there is ample opportunity for teaching and collaborative research.

  • Phoenix: The 5th largest metro area in the US (behind Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and NYC), with >300 days a year of sunshine and an atmosphere of outdoor lifestyle and living.  There is a reason why half of the country spends its winters in the Phoenix area.  The advantages over Florida are our lack of hurricanes, mosquitos, and our access to mountains within 1 hour’s drive.

Rotations and areas of concentration

  • Fellowship rotations are hospital based, which limits the number of hospitals where the Fellow does in-house hospital rounds to one or two.  Rotations include HonorHealth Shea, HonorHealth North Mountain, the East Valley, and at a surgery center.  In general, rotations are 3 months, and working with 2 – 3 faculty.  Summer months are usually on the Shea service to maximize exposure to Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis surgery during “scoliosis season”.

  • Call is for the group’s patients only.  There is no level-one trauma call. The only ER call would be for our patients who come to the ER.  Hospital consultations are covered when on call.

Surgical Case volumes

Typical Fellow surgical case volume is between 250 and 400 cases over the 12-month fellowship.

Teaching Responsibilities

  • Mayo Clinic Orthopedic Surgery Residency:  We routinely have a 4th year Resident and often have an Orthopedic Intern on the Spine Service.  They participate in the weekly Spine Conference and there is teaching opportunity in preparation for the conference.  The Fellow is not responsible for Resident teaching but has opportunity to participate.  Surgery is not shared between the Fellow and Resident.  Each is involved in their own case log and will be first-assisting their assigned Attending.

  • Mayo Clinic Medical Students: Students participate in Spine Conference mostly as observers.  They may be in clinic along with the Fellow, presenting opportunities for teaching in the clinic setting.


  • Several clinical research projects are ongoing at any given time.  The Fellow is encouraged to pick a project of interest during the year, and contribute to its conclusion.

  • A highly motivated Fellow could produce 10 or more papers during the year, if desired.

  • Full-time research staff is available to assist in all research projects.

  • Medical Students and Residents are generally available to participate in clinical research projects.

  • Annual abstract submissions are generally prepared for meetings of the North American Spine Society, Scoliosis Research Society, and International Meeting on Advanced Spine Techniques.  Other common meeting submissions include Cervical Spine Research Society, International Society for Advancement of Spine Surgery, Eurospine, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.