The Combined Spine Surgery Fellowship at the University of Calgary is both an Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical clinical experience. The Goals of the spine fellowship are to train Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical surgeons in the diagnosis and management of diseases of the spine. The program is based at Foothills Medical Centre and the Alberta Children’s Hospital, tertiary care centers serving the population of the city of Calgary (1.15 million) and the surrounding regions of southern Alberta, southeastern British Columbia and southern Saskatchewan (total 1.8 million).
Dr. Shandy Fox
University of Saskatchewan (Canada)
The Calgary Adult Combined Spine Surgery Fellowship offers an amazing educational experience that will prepare you for a successful career in spinal surgery. First and foremost, the program is truly an example of what an integrated program should be. Both specialties are equally represented and the staff work very well together, emulating a positive and team-oriented environment. Secondly, it is a unique experience to work with so many skilled surgeons. As each of them have varying interests and approaches, the learner gains a range of skills and knowledge to add to their “toolbox”. The case volume is substantial with exposure to a wide variety of pathologies, from simple to complex. The program also embraces evidence-based medicine, new technology and new techniques that further advance the learning experience. I was very fortunate to learn from and work alongside such a great group and I highly recommend this fellowship!
Dr. Alexandra Stratton
Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada)
The Calgary Combined Spinal Surgery Fellowship provides a phenomenal training experience. Pros include: the 6 month/6 month split between ortho and neurosurgery giving adequate exposure to both, exceptional technical skill of the surgeons and their interest in teaching, variety of procedures the fellow is exposed to (from routine lumbar decompressions and ACDFs to complex deformity corrections and tumour cases) and approaches (MIS/percutaneous, open, with/without navigation, etc.), graduated responsibility depending on fellow’s level of experience, high volume of cases and structured teaching program.
Administrative duties/scut work is kept to a minimum and the ratio between OR, clinic and research is ideal. There is ample opportunity for early involvement in research projects with the goal of presenting at CSS in February. This fellowship prepares the fellow well for a career in complex spinal surgery in an academic centre.
Dr. Jacob Oh
National University of Singapore (Singapore)
Greetings from Singapore! I am an Orthopedic Spine Consultant and I had the privilege to undertake my Combined Spine Surgery Fellowship at the University of Calgary in 2013/14. I had a fantastic time working with 11 of the most dedicated, skillful and approachable group of spine surgeons. With only 4 spine fellows, we had a substantial amount of surgical time and volume, which is what most candidates desire in their fellowship training.
With Foothills Medical Centre having such a big spine department, I had the opportunity to see, and perform, a large variety of cases – from adult deformity, minimally invasive surgery, complex cervical spine, tumor, acute trauma, the list goes on. Also, what’s unique about this Combined Spine Surgery Fellowship program is that we get to rotate through both the Neurosurgical and Orthopedics teams, giving us a different perspective, which I personally feel is invaluable.
I would definitely recommend this fellowship to anybody who is keen in spine surgery!
Dr. Alexandre Denault
University of Laval (Canada)
My name is Alexandre Denault. I’m an orthopaedic surgeon with a subspecialty in spine surgery at the University hospital (CHU) in Quebec City. I’m a research committee member of the orthopaedic division at Laval University and currently am an executive board member with the Canadian Spine Society. I did my Spine Fellowship at the University of Calgary in 2009-2010.
The role of the Fellow in Calgary is very well established, and exposes you to varied experiences from the start of the year. This helps you rapidly integrate into the clinical team. Clinical and surgical exposure is very well balanced, and research is valorised and supported by very well trained attending surgeons and researchers.
The Combined Orthopedic and Neurosurgical exposure is a major strength of the program. Both specialties are equally represented and work very well together. They are one of the best examples of a true integrated Spine program in Canada.
Finally, I believe the most important factor that makes the Fellowship program successful is the level of involvement and attitude of all the attending surgeons. They create a very positive learning environment by integrating you and your family into their world.
My Fellowship in Calgary was a very successful experience and gave me the tools necessary to undertake my clinical academic practice. For all of these reasons, I strongly recommend the Calgary Fellowship Program to every resident interested in spinal surgery.