This post introduces another option for applicants that don’t match into an orthopedic program. Be warned that this post is a more of a general overview of the topic because we’ll go into more depth in an upcoming post where I interview a current resident who did a research fellowship prior to matching.
Orthopedic research fellowships are an ortho-centric way to get your foot in the door. These paid 1 or 2 year positions take you a step away from the clinical side of orthopedics and immerse you in the academic side. The academic world is something that many of us have very little experience with. As a student, I had no idea how much work went into a large research project. Many of the prolific authors out there are part of well oiled publishing machines which include administrative staff, editors, research fellows, grant writers, and many more moving parts. Even if you’ve never done any research, this may be a viable option.
Research fellowships usually require a 1 or 2 year commitment. Although it may be initially appealing to do just one year, it may be better to look for 2 year programs. The way the cycles work, you’d be just starting out your fellowship when applications are again due and it might not give you enough time to publish anything or get to know your principle investigator (PI). In fact, getting the buy in and support of your PI may be the most important aspect of your research fellowship. They may be a leader in the field and hopefully will be willing to made phone calls and write letters on your behalf when it comes time to apply again.
Remember however that you will be fairly isolated from the clinical world of medicine. It will be a lot harder to explore other specialties and come up with alternative backup plans if you choose this option.
How do you find these programs? Orthogate has a forum for research fellowship positions. New positions are posted periodically so keep checking the site. Search engine results for “orthopedic research fellowships” include fellowships at University of Pennsylvania, Denver Health, and University of Cincinnati. There is limited information on the sites so if you think this may be an option for you, start calling and gathering information!
Stay tuned for my interview with Jeff Cherian for more details on his experience as a research fellow at The Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics in Baltimore, including tips and tricks on how to leverage your research experience to match, coming soon.
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