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Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship

Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship

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The Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is a three-year, ACGME-accredited program that admits one fellow per year.

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Program Details

The Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program at Penn State Children’s Hospital is structured to provide pediatric physicians with exceptional preparation for careers in pediatric cardiology. Upon graduation, fellows are prepared to succeed in any setting, whether they have chosen advanced training, academic medicine, or private practice.

“I absolutely think that the fellowship prepared me very well for practice. The program provided me with a phenomenal knowledge base and I’m very proud to have been a part of it.”

The Penn State Children’s Heart Group is a regional center of excellence in the care of children with heart disease. The medium-sized academic program allows for the combination of a close-knit, personalized fellowship experience within all that an academic medical center has to offer. Our group includes 13 pediatric cardiologists, 2 pediatric cardiovascular thoracic surgeons, 5 pediatric cardiology physician assistants, 3 cardiovascular surgery physician assistants, and a robust clinical and administrative support staff. Our pediatric congenital heart surgery program has been repeatedly nationally recognized for outstanding surgical results, receiving a 3-star rating (the highest possible) from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS). We boast a busy and established Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) program.

As a pediatric cardiology fellow at Penn State College of Medicine, you will develop a solid foundation of medical knowledge, including cardiac embryology, anatomy, and complex pathophysiology. You will encounter and treat a wide spectrum of pediatric acquired and congenital cardiac disease, with experiences ranging from preventative cardiology to complex single ventricle management. You will learn to provide evidence-based treatment strategies within a family-centered care model. Pediatric cardiology attending staff and senior fellows will support you throughout this journey with one-on-one mentoring and supervision, allowing for increased independence as your skills progress. By the time you graduate, our goal is for you to have built upon your foundation of knowledge such that you can thoroughly and thoughtfully approach each individual patient you will encounter, skilled and eager to provide world-class and compassionate pediatric cardiac care.

Learn more about the Fellowship

Program Director’s Welcome Expand answer
Angela M. Kelle, MD, Program Director, Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program

Angela M. Kelle, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Dear aspiring fellow,

I invite you to explore our website to find out more about our Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program at Penn State Children’s Hospital. I am exceptionally proud of the fellows in our program and of the skilled, insightful, compassionate pediatric cardiologists they become, well-prepared for their successful careers. Our program is quite unique in that while we are a medium-size program, our fellows are able to experience a vast array of clinical pathology in a setting of world-class surgical results and outcomes. We get to know our fellows well and work with them closely, tailoring their educational experience based on their interests, skills, and career aspirations. As a fellow in our program, we will challenge you to be clinically outstanding, community engaged, intellectually curious, and of course, to begin teaching what you learn to the next generation.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, and we look forward to working with you.

Angela Kelle, MD, FACC, FASE
Program Director, Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program

Patient and Procedure Volumes Expand answer

The Penn State Children’s Heart Group is a regional center of excellence in the care of children with heart disease, providing care to patients in central Pennsylvania and covering a population of 3.5 million. Our team has extensive experience and expertise in:

  • Echocardiography
  • Electrophysiology
  • Preventive cardiology
  • Exercise physiology
  • Cardiomyopathy and heart failure
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Cardiac genetics
  • Single ventricle management, including a Neurodevelopment follow-up clinic
  • Cardiac catheterization, including interventional cardiology
  • Intensive care cardiology
  • Adult congenital heart disease

Approximate Penn State Children’s Heart Group annual case volumes:

  • Congenital Cardiac Surgery: 220 (150 open heart)
  • Congenital Cardiac Catheterizations: 125 (75% interventional)
  • Pediatric EP Studies, Ablations, Pacemaker and ICD Placements: 100
  • Transthoracic Echocardiograms: 9,500
  • Fetal Echocardiograms: 600
  • Transesophageal Echocardiograms: 350
  • Pediatric Cardiac MRI: 100
To Apply Expand answer
COVID-19 Update for the 2020 Interview Season – In accordance with national recommendations and in fairness to all fellowship candidates, many of whom are under travel restrictions, in-person visits and interviews will be suspended for the 2020 interview season. All fellowship interviews will be conducted virtually via conferencing software. Fellowship candidates are encouraged to pay close attention to ERAS and NRMP calendars for this season, which may be different than prior years, and adhere to all deadlines to ensure a successful match.

Application Overview

The Penn State Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program participates in the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) Pediatric Subspecialties Match, with one fellowship spot per year.

All application materials must be submitted through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) for fellowship applicants. Applicants are encouraged to complete their applications as soon as possible once ERAS opens for the season.

Application Eligibility

  • Applicants must have completed an ACGME-accredited residency in Pediatrics or combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics prior to the fellowship start date.
  • Applicants must be board-eligible or board-certified in General Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics.
  • Applicants must be eligible for or hold a Pennsylvania medical training license or medical license.
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or J-1 visa holders (no additional visa types are institutionally sponsored). The J-1 visa application process and fees are the applicant’s responsibility.
  • International medical graduates must hold a currently valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
  • All applications are reviewed in their entirety. There is no official limit for the number of USMLE Step examination attempts, or official board score “cutoffs;” however, the number of times the exam has been taken and board scores may impact the strength of an application.
  • All applications are considered without regard to race, religion, national origin, sex, gender orientation, disability or family status.

Application Requirements

A complete ERAS fellowship application must contain:

  • Personal statement
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Letters of recommendation: At least three letters of recommendation must be included from faculty members with whom the applicant has worked; it is recommended that at least one letter be included from a pediatric cardiologist and one from your residency program director.
  • Dean’s letter
  • Medical school transcripts
  • USMLE/COMLEX transcripts
  • For international medical graduates, ECFMG certification is required as part of the application.

Application Review

Applications will be reviewed by the internal Fellowship Application Review Committee on a rolling basis once the ERAS application is complete. Qualified applicants will be invited for an interview with our program. It is advisable to respond to an interview application as soon as you are able, as interview dates are limited and may fill quickly.

Travel and Lodging

Although the program is not able to reimburse travel costs, one night of lodging (the night prior to the interview) will be arranged and paid for by the program.

Interview Day

If travel plans allow, the candidate will be invited to dinner at a local restaurant on the evening prior to their interview, jointly hosted by one current fellow and one faculty member. The significant other of an interviewee is welcome to attend dinner if arrangements are made in advance. This dinner provides an opportunity to experience a bit of the Hershey community and to become more acquainted with our program in a relaxed environment.

Interview days are conducted on Thursdays when possible, which allows applicants the opportunity to attend our weekly, multidisciplinary Children’s Heart Group case conference. The more formal part of the interview day follows, consisting of individual interviews with the program director, program faculty including our division chief and one of our CV surgeons (schedule permitting), and including a mid-day lunch and hospital tour with the current fellows. Interviews are typically concluded by mid- to late-afternoon. If an applicant has specific interests within Pediatric Cardiology (such as imaging, electrophysiology, cardiac catheterization, ICU, medical education, etc.), please let us know when scheduling an interview date such that the day can be structured accordingly.

For candidates wishing to extend their time in Hershey, arrangements may be able to be made with the hotel at a discounted rate. The program will be happy to provide suggestions on things to see, places to go, and where to eat – we are very proud of our Hershey community and eager to share all that it has to offer.

Faculty Expand answer

A Commitment to Teaching

The Children’s Heart Group has attracted and cultivated an outstanding faculty team, many with subspecialty interests which serve as foci for their teaching and research endeavors. Faculty members hold positions on various national committees and boards of national societies.

Meet the Faculty

Current Fellows Expand answer

Fellow Spotlight

Tracie Lin, MD
Hometown: Farmingdale, NY

Clinical Interests: Cardiac Critical Care

Why did you choose Pediatric Cardiology?

Even prior to my critical care fellowship, I knew I was fascinated by the intricacies of congenital heart disease. That interest further solidified as my PICU fellowship progressed. I found that the things that drew me to critical care are very much a part of the everyday practice of pediatric cardiology, paired with additional patient/family continuity and relationship-building. Cardiac critical care is the ICU sub-specialty that best captures the aspects of critical care that drew me to the field in the first place. And hearts are just darn awesome.

Why did you choose Penn State for your fellowship training? What are your thoughts on fellowship so far?

I’ve only been here a short time so far, but I’ve been really impressed by the quality of the educational experience, as well as the down-to-earth approach to life/work of everyone I’ve interacted with. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, the people here meet you where you are and help you grow from wherever that happens to be. And you’ll get that education and support from not just the cardiology attendings and other fellows, but also the fantastic echocardiography technicians, surgeons and physician assistants, basically everyone you interact with is ready to support you in your journey – knowledge-wise, logistical support-wise, and so on – while also challenging you to improve. The interdisciplinary collegiality here is great. I heard about Penn State Children’s reputation of collegiality from people in other specialties too even before I got here, and I’ve found that reputation to be accurate. In considering different cardiology fellowship programs, I think it’s worth pointing out that the individualized support and education you’re able to get here (which some may consider a perk of programs with fewer fellows) absolutely does not mean sacrificing a diverse clinical experience; the numbers show a patient complexity and case load here comparable to other moderate size programs despite the smaller number of fellows, and the patient outcomes here put Penn State Children’s among the best.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? How is life in Hershey, Pennsylvania?

I like hiking in lush green areas, so being in central Pennsylvania is great for that. Some of these paths are an easy 20-minute drive from the hospital and many are within a one to two hour radius. There are also several paths that are good for walking or biking next to the hospital for a quick run or bike before/after work. I also dabble in oil painting and mixed media art. Being able to live near the hospital in an affordable home that’s spacious enough for all my art supplies plus separate spaces for yoga and meditation, not to mention with great natural lighting and overlooking greenery, is a definite perk and improvement in my quality of life. (A contrast from my tiny New York City apartment days in college and medical school.) Also, this may be blasphemous to say after nearly a decade of living in NYC and subsequently refusing to call “pizza” outside of NYC “pizza”, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the pizza here! Totally unexpected.

Gretchen Hackett, DO, MS
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Clinical interests: Imaging, Cardiac Intensive Care

Research interests: Non-compaction cardiomyopathy, Exercise stress testing in left ventricular outflow track obstruction, Critical care practices in patients with congenital heart disease, Transition of care

Why did you choose Pediatric Cardiology?

During my graduate education in exercise physiology, I worked with pediatric cardiologists. This exposure sparked my interest in pediatric cardiology which continued throughout medical school and residency. I find the physiology fascinating and enjoy the multiple facets and sub-specialties within pediatric cardiology… each day is unique!

Why did you choose Penn State for your fellowship training?

In completing my residency at Penn State, I was able to interact with the faculty in pediatric cardiology and see how truly supportive they were of my learning. As they hold diverse clinical and research interests, I knew that I would have excellent training in all aspects of this field and would graduate as a well-rounded pediatric cardiologist. The ample opportunities for hands-on experience and learning from such a wide variety of approachable faculty members made this program an obvious choice for me.

What are your thoughts on fellowship so far?

Fellowship has been rewarding! It amazes me how much I have grown as a physician while at this program. From learning how to do an echocardiogram to the advanced cath lab procedures, the structure of this program exposes you to diverse pathology within pediatric cardiology. This allows you to both focus in a narrow subsection in the field based upon your interests and career goals, as well as become a well-rounded pediatric cardiologist.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? How is life in Hershey, Pennsylvania?

I love hiking and outdoor activities and am a total foodie! Hershey is a wonderful area to find beautiful hiking trails and is a very quick drive to many nature parks and reserves including many segments of the Appalachian Trail. In addition, there are numerous great restaurants with a wide variety of cuisine to choose from…. I still have a very long list of new places to try after 4 years of living here! Hershey is very kid-friendly and a wonderful place to raise a family. Hersheypark is always fun to enjoy not only in the summer but also for Halloween and Christmas! We have the benefit of being in driving distance to multiple other cities to explore for weekend get-a-ways including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York City, Richmond, and Pittsburgh. My husband and I have been able to explore multiple new cities in addition to Hershey in our time living here.

Fellow Spotlight

Aniqa Shahrier, MD
Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh/ Raleigh, North Carolina

Clinical interests: Pediatric electrophysiology

Research interests: Approaches to arrhythmia management, medical education

Why did you choose Pediatric Cardiology?

I find the pathophysiology fascinating. I enjoy seeing patients across a variety of clinical settings, from the clinic to the ICU. I also like the relationship you form with your patients and their families.

Why did you choose Penn State for your fellowship training?

A wide variety of pathology presents here. There is flexibility to tailor your fellowship experience to your goals and interests. It is a very supportive atmosphere.

What are your thoughts on fellowship so far?

I have been impressed by how approachable our attendings are, including the surgeons! Everyone is collegial and always willing to help each other.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? How is life in Hershey, Pennsylvania?

I love checking out new restaurants and have recently started cooking more. I enjoy reading and Zumba classes. Life in Hershey is great because you get the benefits of living near big cities while still having that small town feel. And I have a season pass to Hersheypark!

Past Fellows Expand answer

Testimonials from Penn State Health Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Alumni

“Penn State Children’s Hospital, Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship was an excellent fit for me. The program provided a well-rounded education in imaging, cardiac catheterization, electrophysiology, outpatient/inpatient care, and ICU medicine. The attending physicians and staff were always welcoming and engaged in teaching. As a fellow, I felt responsible for my clinical work but well supported at the same time. I was encouraged to pursue and develop my clinical/research interests. Overall, the fellowship program allowed me to build a strong foundation for my career as a Pediatric Cardiologist with a focus on imaging.”

“The compassion and education provided me are something I will carry with me for a lifetime, and I have the greatest appreciation and respect for my mentors.”

“The fellowship definitely prepared me very well. All the attendings were very helpful and went the extra yard to train me.”

“I absolutely think that the fellowship prepared me very well for practice. The program provided me with a phenomenal knowledge base and I’m very proud to have been a part of it.”

Past Fellow Listing

About Hershey: Benefits, Stipends and More Expand answer

An aerial image shows downtown Hershey with the words Welcome to Hershey superimposed at right.

Welcome to Hershey

A new-for-2020 guide to the Hershey, Pa., area showcases the highlights of life in central Pennsylvania.

Learn more about the Hershey area

More About Hershey

Interested in learning more about living and working in Hershey, Pa.? See details here:

Contact Us Expand answer

Mailing Address

Penn State Children’s Hospital
Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship
600 University Dr., H085
Hershey, PA 17033

General Contact Info

Phone: 717-531-5458

Curriculum Details

New Fellow Boot Camp Expand answer

The Penn State Children’s Heart Group is proud to be a sponsoring institution for the Pediatric Cardiology Fellows’ Boot Camp at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. The course provides two and a half days of didactics, hands-on training, and networking for incoming fellows. Registration, travel, and meal costs are covered by Stanford and the boot camp co-sponsors.

Rotation Overview Expand answer

The Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship is a three-year, ACGME-accredited training program. Twenty four months are dedicated to subspecialty clinical training, designed for the trainee to develop the needed knowledge and skills for the practice of pediatric cardiology. These months include rotations on our inpatient and intensive care services, echocardiography and advanced cardiac imaging, electrophysiology, cardiac catheterization including interventional procedures, exercise physiology, adult congenital heart disease, and pediatric cardiovascular surgery.

From an outpatient perspective, fellows participate in a longitudinal continuity clinic experience throughout their training. This allows each fellow to evaluate, manage, and develop continuity relationships with their own patient population under the supervision of an attending pediatric cardiologist. Fellows are given increasing levels of independence as they gain in experience and skill. Additional outpatient experiences occur regularly in general pediatric and subspecialty clinics, with experiences customized to trainee interests and career goals during the final years of fellowship.

Twelve months of the fellowship program are dedicated to clinical or laboratory-based research training. Research training enables the trainee to develop a scholarly approach to clinical practice, as well as develops the necessary skillset for the trainee to contribute to the global knowledge base in pediatric cardiac care.

Pediatric cardiology fellows supervise and teach medical students, residents, and junior fellows on clinical rotations, with increasing levels of responsibility. In addition, fellows prepare and present didactic lectures to junior learners while on service and for resident conference. Additional recent teaching by our fellows includes medical student education in cardiac gross anatomy, resident education in the simulation center, and a NICU Postgraduate Fellowship Cardiac Lecture Series. Fellows routinely prepare and present formal lecture topics and clinical cases at divisional conferences.

Rotation Template

The current rotation schedule for each of the three years of fellowship is listed below. Please note, schedules are individually reviewed and personalized based on trainee interests, skills, and goals.

One month is equivalent to a 4-week block. Four weeks of vacation are allocated per year.

Year 1

  • Inpatient Service – 2 months
  • Cardiac Imaging – 3 months
  • Cardiac Catheterization* – 2 months
  • Electrophysiology* – 1 month
  • Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgery – 0.5 month
  • Research – 3.5 months

Year 2

  • Inpatient Service – 2 months
  • Cardiac Imaging – 2 months
  • Cardiac Catheterization* – 1 month
  • Electrophysiology* – 0.5 month
  • Cardiac Intensive Care – 1 month
  • Adult Congenital Heart Disease – 1 month
  • Exercise/Stress* – 0.5 month
  • Elective – 0.5 month
  • Research – 3.5 months

Year 3

  • Inpatient Service – 2 months
  • Cardiac Imaging – 1 month
  • Cardiac Catheterization* – 0.5 month
  • Electrophysiology* – 0.5 month
    Cardiac Intensive Care – 1 month
  • Elective – 1 month
  • Research – 6 months

*Some procedural blocks may be combined, e.g. cardiac catheterization/electrophysiology, such that the first year fellow has one month of dedicated cardiac catheterization and two months of combined cardiac catheterization/electrophysiology, allowing for increased procedural experience.

Electives Expand answer

Elective time is typically available during the second and third years of fellowship, though may be arranged during the first year at fellow request. A wide range of elective opportunities are available, including perinatology and fetal cardiology, advanced cardiac imaging, cardiac intensive care, heart failure/transplantation, medical education, simulation education, and international opportunities such as our program in Ecuador (see below).

Didactic Series and Conferences Expand answer

Cardiac Catheterization Case Conference (Mondays)

Monday mornings begin with a cardiac catheterization conference from 7:15 to 8:30 am, facilitated by Dr. Weber. This conference includes fellow data presentation and review of post-catheterization patients, as well as angiography review. Fellows engage in discussion and teaching of anatomy, hemodynamics, pathophysiology, and potential patient management strategies.

Fellow Core Curriculum Series (Second Monday)

The Fellow Core Curriculum Series is a set of structured didactic sessions occurring on the second Monday of each month from 3 to 5 pm. This innovative learning program provides instruction ranging from a core knowledge of research methodology, including research study design, research ethics, grantsmanship, manuscript writing, and basic statistical analysis, to topics such as maintaining physician wellness, CV editing, and negotiating employment agreements. This is treated as protected time during which fellows are free of clinical duties.

Adult Congential Heart Disease Case Conference (Tuesdays)

The multidisciplinary Adult Congenital Heart Disease Case Conference is held weekly from 3 to 5 pm. The conference includes presentation and multidisciplinary discussion of ACHD cases. Attendance and participation helps to familiarize fellows with the management of complex adult congenital patients, including the application of current published ACHD and adult cardiac guidelines. Attendance at this conference is required during ACHD rotation and otherwise encouraged.

Perinatal Conference (First Tuesday)

The Perinatal Conference is held on the first Tuesday of the month from 4 to 5 pm. Facilitated by the maternal fetal medicine (MFM) perinatal coordinators, the meeting includes a brief review of each maternal/fetal case currently cared for within the Perinatal Program, with in-depth multidisciplinary commentary and discussion as appropriate. Postnatal case correlation is also included. Senior fellows on imaging rotations typically give a brief presentation on a fetal cardiology patient for the “case of the month,” including prenatal imaging, diagnosis, and a brief overview of expected pre- and post-natal management.

Fellow Physiology Conference and Journal Club (Wednesdays)

The Fellow Physiology Conference and Journal Club is held weekly on Wednesday mornings from 7 to 8 am, facilitated by Dr. Cyran. Affectionately called “Fireside Chats” by the fellows, this conference is often held over breakfast at a local restaurant. Fellows learn to think about and teach the detailed pathophysiology of patient cases encountered in clinic or on hospital service. For journal club, fellows discuss the latest research publications in the literature, educating fellows on design and structure of clinical research in addition to basic statistical methodology and review.

Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Series (Wednesdays)

Two Wednesday afternoons per month from 3 – 5 pm: Board Review series, facilitated by Dr. Kelle.
This series includes fellow preparation and presentation of chapter reviews from core pediatric cardiology text, as well as interactive practice board review questions.

Two Wednesday afternoons per month from 3 – 5 pm: Electrophysiology conference, facilitated by Dr. Imundo. These lectures incorporate both fellow- and faculty-led didactic review of basic electrophysiology concepts. This series also provides education in interpretation of electrocardiogram, Holter studies, electrophysiology studies, and exercise stress testing.

Fifth Wednesday afternoon (when applicable): Alternate lecture topics from faculty. Examples include preventive cardiology topics such as hyperlipidemia, hypertension, or alternative medicine, management of pulmonary hypertension, and heart failure/cardiomyopathy.

Multidisciplinary Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Case Conference (Thursdays)

The Multidisciplinary Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Case Conference is a weekly session occurring Thursdays from 7:30 to 9:00 am. During this conference, fellows have the opportunity to prepare and present clinical cases for diagnostic and management input, including discussion of surgical or catheter based intervention. The conference is attended by the pediatric cardiothoracic surgery team, pediatric interventional cardiology, general pediatric cardiology, adult congenital heart disease, pediatric radiology, neonatology, pediatric critical care, our cardiac sonographers and other learners including residents and medical students. This is an excellent educational opportunity to participate in multidisciplinary discussion on the optimal management course for our patients, including recent literature and applicable evidence-based guidelines.

Morbidity and Mortality Conference (Third Thursdays)

The divisional Morbidity and Mortality Conference occurs on the third Thursday of approximately every other month from 4 to 5 pm, prior to the CHG Division Meeting. Under the mentorship of Dr. Imundo, fellows will prepare and present a case, including clinical data, timeline, fishbone diagram, and literature review, for an open and professional multidisciplinary team discussion aimed at improving patient care.

Children’s Heart Group Division Meeting (Third Thursday)

The Children’s Heart Group Division Meeting occurs on the third Thursday of every month from 5 to 6 pm. Fellow attendance and participation is encouraged. The meeting agenda is distributed ahead of time and typically includes divisional announcements, an overview of recent practice data, outpatient site and medical director updates, fellowship program director updates, and divisional discussion of new or ongoing issues.

Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Imaging Conference (Fridays)Students watch how a pathology specimen is used.

The Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Imaging Conference is held weekly on Friday mornings from 7 to 8 am, led by Drs. Kelle and Stefek. This series combines didactic and case-based reviews of numerous non-invasive imaging modalities including transthoracic echocardiography, transesophageal echocardiography, cardiac MRI and fetal echocardiography. Past lessons have also included hands-on imaging instruction on topics such as 3D and strain echocardiography. 3D printing is an active part of our current cardiac imaging armamentarium, and 3D prints are often included in conference for reference and teaching of applicable topics.

Cardiac Anatomy Specimens

Once each quarter, Imaging Conference is replaced with hands-on education with cardiac anatomy specimens. Additional learning and teaching opportunities exist in the gross anatomy lab throughout the year.

Virtual Learning Opportunities

The fellowship strives to give fellows every educational opportunity possible. In conjunction with the Society of Pediatric Cardiology Training Program Directors (SPCTPD), our fellows are encouraged to participate in the Pediatric Cardiology – National Educational Curriculum (PC – NES) virtual learning opportunities. Lectures are provided via an online learning platform by expert faculty at numerous programs across the country. Fellows are encouraged to attend in real-time for interaction and questions, though also have the opportunity to view the recorded lectures. We also participate in the “ECG of the Week” program coordinated by Dr. Glenn Wetzel at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. These virtual additions further enhance our fellows’ educational experience and provide the opportunity to regularly engage with faculty and fellows from programs across the country.

Weekly Conference Schedule

Simulation Center Expand answer

Fellows will have opportunities to both learn and teach in our nationally acclaimed Clinical Simulation Center. Scheduled, recurring learning opportunities taught by our faculty include procedural simulations such as pericardiocentesis and introduction to transesophageal echocardiography. The Clinical Simulation Center also offers a variety of multi-disciplinary courses in areas such as central line placement and ECMO management, allowing for additional hands-on learning. Our fellows work closely with the Pediatric Residency program, serving as facilitators for the quarterly held simulation center didactics. In this program, fellows have the opportunity to participate in the development of cardiac case stimulations for the residents, run real-time simulation cases and lead educational debriefing sessions with resident teams.

Research Expand answer

All fellows participate in a learning program that provides them with a core knowledge of research methodology, including study design, grantsmanship, manuscript writing, and basic statistical analysis. Dedicated research time begins in the first year of fellowship, allowing for maximal longitudinal research experience and potential. A faculty mentor is identified based upon individualized career and research goals. Research options include clinical research with our Children’s Heart Group faculty, several of whom are involved in multi-institutional projects and/or grants, as well as opportunities for basic science research through the Penn State Center for Pediatric Cardiovascular Research. Fellows will work directly with their mentor to explore clinical questions of interest and review the literature to develop ideas for their scholarly project. Through this mentorship, fellows go on to develop an independent research protocol, generate an IRB application, and apply for applicable grants. Throughout the second and third year of fellowship, fellows are expected to participate in data collection and statistical analysis with the goal of developing at least one manuscript for publication. Our fellows are encouraged to attend local, regional, and national conferences to not only present their own work, but also engage with researchers from other institutions across the country for inspiration, continuing education, and initiating long-term professional relationships.

Wellness Expand answer

Male individual standing in front of computer wearing a santa hat and a colored bulb necklaceFellow wellness, including emotional, spiritual, social, and physical health, is a crucial component to training and to becoming a professional, compassionate, and resilient physician. Self-care is a skill which must be continually practiced and reinforced. Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health are committed to addressing wellness, with multiple resources readily available.

Institutional Resources

Graduate Medical Education (GME) Resources

Departmental and Divisional Resources

The Children’s Heart Group Quality of Work Life committee organizes and arranges many social events and fitness challenges throughout the year, with the goal of keeping Children’s Heart Group healthy, connected, engaged, and energized. Typical yearly activities include themed work lunches, local sporting events, cooking breakfast at the Ronald McDonald House, collections for local food banks and hat/glove donations, holiday party and family picnics including the yearly fellow graduation/welcome picnic (held in addition to the formal departmental graduation ceremony).

International and Community Engagement Opportunities Expand answer

Global Health Elective – Ecuador

Surgical team in Ecuador operating roomThird year fellows in our program are offered an opportunity to participate in a global health Ecuador Hospital Signelective at the Hosital de Ninos de Roberto Gilbert Elizade in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a 400 bed Children’s Hospital with a dedicated CICU and pediatric cardiac intensivist team. This elective is part of a joint pediatric cardiology and pediatric cardiovascular surgery medical mission trip, supervised by our faculty physicians Dr. Stephen Cyran and Dr. Jack Myers, both of whom have over 30 years of individual experience in this arena. The medical/surgical mission occurs in the fall of each year as a 1- to 2-week opportunity. The yearly trip is part of a sustained partnership of education and assistance to the Children’s Hospital and emphasizes a collaborative, interactive environment with our overseas colleagues. Fellows have multiple opportunities for clinical engagement depending on their personal interests, including hands-on outpatient transthoracic echocardiographic imaging, direct inpatient and outpatient care, performance of intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography, and supervised participation in interventional cardiac catheterization. Fourth year medical students also accompany our team on this trip as part of a global health elective, lending an outstanding opportunity for fellow-coordinated teaching.

Camp Lionheart

Young women with a butterfly on her hand and and onlooker watches.Camp Lionheart is a week-long summer camp for children 12 to 18 years of age with congenital or acquired heart disease, established in 2016 as a collaborative effort between the Children’s Heart Group and Ellie’s Heart Foundation. At camp, children have the opportunity to participate in traditional summer camp activities and learn about their hearts, all while getting to know other children with heart disease. Camp is offered free of charge to the campers, and camp is staffed by camp counselors as well as medical personnel. Pediatric cardiology fellows have the opportunity to attend camp, lead various educational sessions, and get to know the campers during activities such as kayaking, archery, kickball and pottery. This is an experience which our fellows look forward to each summer!

American Heart Association Heart Walk

Penn State Children’s Heart Group team participates annually to support the American Heart Association at the Capital Region PA Heart Walk, which is held locally at City Island in Harrisburg, PA each September. Please join us – families and dogs are welcome!

Conquering Congenital Heart Disease

Three young women standing together smilingMany of our Children’s Heart Group patients and families have benefited tremendously from the support and education provided by the Conquering Congenital Heart Disease – Pennsylvania State Chapter. The mission of this group, formerly known as the Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease Association, is to “improve quality and outcomes in congenital heart disease through collaborative efforts with patients, families, providers and partner organizations through education, support, research and awareness.” The Pennsylvania Chapter of Conquering Congenital Heart Disease hosts many events throughout the year which the Children’s Heart Group and pediatric cardiology fellows are encouraged to participate. In 2020, the first annual PA Congenital Heart Gala was held, and all of our fellows attended. Many of our Children’s Heart Group families and their “heart kids” attended and shared their stories at this sold-out fundraising event. While enjoying a wonderful night dining and dancing, the fellows had the opportunity to engage with several patients and families they have cared for during their training. We hope to make this event a tradition!

Fellow Honors and Recognitions

Exceptional Teachers Expand answer

Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center accept ongoing nominations for the Exceptional Moments in Teaching award.

The award, given monthly by the Office for a Respectful Learning Environment, accepts nominations from College of Medicine students who are invited to submit narratives about faculty members, residents, fellows, nurses or any other educators who challenge them and provide an exceptional learning experience. See more about the award here.

Resident/Fellow Research Day Presentations Expand answer

The annual Resident/Fellow Research Day is held each summer on and around the Penn State Health Milton S. Medical Center campus in Hershey, PA.

The intent of the event is to provide an opportunity for residents and fellows to showcase their research accomplishments to their peers in other clinical departments, as well as their colleagues in the basic sciences.

Learn more about Resident/Fellow Research Day here.

Previous presentations from the Medicine/Pediatrics Residency are listed here.

Additional Fellow Activities and Honors Expand answer

Gretchen Hackett, DO, MS 2019-present

Elected as a workgroup member, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery (SOCCS) Early Career Physician Workgroup

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