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Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship

Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship

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The Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital 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 Health 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 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. The group includes a team of pediatric cardiologists, pediatric cardiovascular thoracic surgeons, pediatric cardiology physician assistants, cardiovascular surgery physician assistants, and a robust clinical and administrative support staff. The pediatric congenital heart surgery program has been repeatedly nationally recognized for outstanding surgical results, receiving a three-star rating (the highest possible) from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. The program boasts a busy and established Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) program.

Pediatric cardiology fellows at Penn State College of Medicine will develop a solid foundation of medical knowledge, including cardiac embryology, anatomy, and complex pathophysiology. Trainees 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. They will learn to provide evidence-based treatment strategies within a family-centered care model. Pediatric cardiology attending staff and senior fellows will support trainees throughout this journey with one-on-one mentoring and supervision, allowing for increased independence as skills progress. By the time a trainee graduates, the program’s goal is for them to have built upon a foundation of knowledge such that they can thoroughly and thoughtfully approach each individual patient they 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

Dear prospective fellow,

I am delighted you are interested in the pediatric cardiology fellowship program at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

I find the educational environment at Penn State to be exceptional. Throughout training, fellows learn to manage a wide variety of complex congenital and acquired heart diseases in a setting in which one works closely with faculty mentors. We come to know our fellows well, and are able to tailor their educational experience based on their interests, skills and career aspirations.

As part of a cardiac program that consistently achieves top-tier surgical outcomes, our fellows experience the delivery of high-quality clinical care first-hand. I believe our team approach, including frequent collaboration with our partners in CT surgery and intensive care, is paramount to our success.

My hope is that graduates of our program translate their robust experiences from fellowship training into satisfying careers of their choosing that enhance the health of patients and advance the field to new heights.

I invite you to explore this page for further details about our program. Feel free to contact me at any time should you have any questions.

Best wishes,

Robert D. Tunks, MD
Program Director, Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship

To Apply Expand answer

Application Overview

COVID-19 Update for the 2023 Interview Season – In accordance with national recommendations and in fairness to all fellowship candidates, some of whom remain under travel restrictions, in-person interviews will again be suspended for the 2023 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.

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 the applicant’s 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. It is advisable to respond to an interview application as soon as you are able, as interview dates are limited and may fill quickly.

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: Abdulmajeed Alruwaili, MD Expand answer

About the fellow

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Abdulmajeed Alruwaili

Abdulmajeed Alruwaili, MD

Abdulmajeed Alruwaili, MD

Hometown: Saudi Arabia (northern part)

Clinical interests: Cardiac imaging, preventive cardiology and adult congenital heart disease

Why did you choose Pediatric Cardiology?

“To see congenital heart disease children leading a long and happy life!”

Why did you choose Penn State for your fellowship training?

“I chose Penn State for training because of the diversity in cardiac training in the sweetest place on earth.”

What are your thoughts on fellowship so far?

“I am impressed by the teaching I’m getting every day!”

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

“I enjoy hiking and biking around central Pennsylvania! I enjoy cooking at home when the weather is not cooperating.”

Fellow Spotlight: Gretchen Hackett, DO, MS Expand answer

About the fellow

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Gretchen Hackett

Gretchen Hackett, DO, MS

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, Pa.?

“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: Tracie Lin, MD Expand answer

About the fellow

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Tracie Lin

Tracie Lin, MD

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 Health 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 Health Children’s among the best.”

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

“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.”

Past Fellows Expand answer

Testimonials from Penn State Health Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Alumni

“Penn State Health Children’s Hospital’s 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 Penn State Health Expand answer

A screenshot shows the 2020 virtual tour of Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine.

Virtual Tour

A recently developed virtual tour showcases locations across Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa.

Explore the virtual tour

Penn State Health

Penn State Health is a multi-hospital health system serving patients and communities across 29 counties of Pennsylvania. Its mission is to improve health through patient care, research, education and community outreach.

In December 2017, the system partnered with Highmark Health to facilitate creation of a value-based, community care network in the region. The shared goal of Highmark and Penn State Health is to ensure patients in the community are within:

  • 10 minutes of a Penn State Health primary care provider
  • 20 minutes of Penn State Health specialty care
  • 30 minutes of a Penn State Health acute care facility

Learn more about Penn State Health

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine campus is seen in an aerial photo on a sunny day.

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital (left), Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center (center) and Penn State Cancer Institute (right)

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

500 University Dr., Hershey, Pa., 17033 (Derry Township, Dauphin County)

  • The health system’s 647-bed flagship teaching and research hospital
  • The only medical facility in Pennsylvania accredited as both an adult and a pediatric Level I (highest-level) trauma center
  • Dedicated surgical, neuroscience, cardiovascular, trauma and medical intensive care units
  • Accredited Life Lion critical-care transport providing more than 1,100 helicopter and approximately 750 ground ambulance transports per year
  • More than 1,300 faculty members and more than 650 residents and fellows
  • Approximately 29,000 admissions, 73,000 emergency department visits, 1.1 million outpatient visits and 33,000 surgical procedures annually
  • Designated as a Magnet hospital since 2007

Learn more about Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital

600 University Dr., Hershey, Pa. 17033 (Derry Township, Dauphin County)

  • An eight-story, 263,000-square-foot-facility built in 2013 and expanded in 2020
  • 146 licensed pediatric beds, 18 acute care beds and a 56-bed neonatal intensive care unit
  • Level IV (highest-level) neonatal intensive care unit
  • Level I quaternary (highest-level) pediatric intensive care unit
  • Level I (highest-level) pediatric trauma center designation
  • Intermediate care unit
  • Dedicated pediatric operating rooms
  • More than 150,000 pediatric outpatient visits and approximately 5,000 pediatric patient discharges annually

Learn more about Penn State Health Children’s Hospital

Patient and Procedure Volumes Expand answer

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. The 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 Children’s Heart Group annual case volumes:

  • Congenital cardiac surgery: 220 (150 open heart)
  • Congenital cardiac catheterizations: 125 (75 percent interventional)
  • Pediatric electrophysiology studies, ablations, pacemaker and ICD placements: 100
  • Transthoracic echocardiograms: 9,500
  • Fetal echocardiograms: 600
  • Transesophageal echocardiograms: 350
  • Pediatric cardiac MRI: 100
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 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:

Wellness Expand answer

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 among residents and fellows, with multiple resources readily available.

Institutional resources

Graduate medical education 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).

Diversity Expand answer

Institutional Resources

Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine celebrate, embrace and support the diversity of all patients, faculty, staff, students and trainees.

Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

In keeping with this, Penn State Health has an active Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with various programs, networks and resource groups, including:

  • Talks and lectures on diversity, equity and inclusion through the Inclusion Academy
  • Regular events on topics such as eradicating racism and creating a culture of inclusiveness
  • Many Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs), including:
    • Disability Business Employee Resource Group
    • Interfaith Business Employee Resource Group
    • LGBTQ+ Business Employee Resource Group
    • Military and Veterans Business Employee Resource Group
    • Multicultural Business Employee Resource Group
    • NextGen Business Employee Resource Group

Learn more about the Penn State Health Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Learn more about the College of Medicine’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Belonging

Office for Culturally Responsive Health Care Education

The vision at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health is to equip learners with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they will need to provide culturally excellent health care and research for an increasingly diverse U.S. population. The Office for Culturally Responsive Health Care Education was formed to help meet that goal.

Learn more about the Office for Culturally Responsive Health Care Education

Office for a Respectful Learning Environment

In addition, the institution does not tolerate discrimination, biases, microaggression, harassment or learner mistreatment of any kind, and any concerns are immediately addressed by the Office for a Respectful Learning Environment.

Learn more about the Office for a Respectful Learning Environment

Network of Under-represented Residents and Fellows
The Network of Under-represented Residents and Fellows (NURF) is a group of diverse residents and fellows representing all specialties. NURF’s goal is to promote cultural diversity in the residency programs through community involvement, mentorship with diverse faculty, professional networking and support for the recruitment of diverse medical students into the residency programs.

NURF is sponsored by the Penn State College of Medicine Graduate Medical Education Office and the Penn State Health Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Learn more information about NURF

Contact Us Expand answer

Mailing Address

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

General Contact Info

Phone: 717-531-5458

Curriculum Details

New Fellow Boot Camp Expand answer

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 the 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 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 Expand answer

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.

Four weeks of vacation are allocated per year.

Year 1

  • Inpatient service – three months
  • Cardiac imaging – three months
  • Cardiac catheterization – two months
  • Electrophysiology – two months
  • Cardiovascular thoracic surgery – half a month
  • Research – one and a half months

Year 2

  • Inpatient service – two months
  • Cardiac imaging – two months
  • Cardiac catheterization – one month
  • Electrophysiology – one month
  • Cardiac intensive care – one month
  • Adult congenital heart disease – half a month
  • Elective – half a month
  • Research – four months

Year 3

  • Inpatient service – two months
  • Cardiac imaging – half a month
  • Cardiac catheterization – half a month
  • Electrophysiology – one month
  • Cardiac intensive care – one month
  • Elective – one month
  • Research – six months
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, palliative care/pain management, medical education, simulation education, and international opportunities such as our program in Ecuador.

Didactic Series and Conferences Expand answer

Week in Review (Inpatient Sign Out) (Mondays)

Monday mornings, 8:15 to 9 a.m.: A review of all current inpatients occurs each week on Monday mornings, allowing for the outgoing service team (fellow and attending) to sign out the service to the incoming team (fellow or physician assistant and attending). Fellows typically lead the review of each patient, discussing their anatomy and procedural history, current status, management plan, and anticipated disposition.

Cardiac Catheterization Case Conference (Mondays)

Monday mornings begin with a cardiac catheterization conference from 7:15 to 8:15 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 2 to 4 p.m. 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.

ICU Echo Review (Mondays)

Mondays from noon to 1 p.m.:  In a joint session for both pediatric cardiology and PICU fellows, Dr. Tunks leads a review of the imaging studies for operative patients each week on Mondays in the PICU conference room.  These collaborative sessions allow for review of the anticipated surgical approach, anticipated post-operative hemodynamics, and potential management strategies for each patient.  These sessions are also great opportunities for the pediatric cardiology and PICU teams to learn from one another, as the perspectives from both teams are incorporated.

Board Review (Mondays)

First, third and fourth Mondays from 4 to 5 p.m.: Teaching sessions led by attendings and occasionally the fellows themselves with a focus on reviewing for the pediatric cardiology board exam.  High yield topics of interest are prioritized as lectures, whereas other sessions focus on question review.  Our CT surgeons also participate in this effort, giving lectures on surgical topics once per month on average.

Adult Congential Heart Disease Case Conference (Tuesdays)

The multidisciplinary Adult Congenital Heart Disease Case Conference is held weekly from 3 to 5 p.m. 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.

Physiology Conference and Journal Club (Wednesdays)

The Physiology Conference and Journal Club is held weekly on Wednesday mornings from 7 to 8 a.m., 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.

Multidisciplinary Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Case Conference (Thursdays)

The Multidisciplinary Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Case Conference is a weekly session occurring Thursdays from 7 to 9 a.m. 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, 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 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 p.m., prior to the CHG Division Meeting. Under the mentorship of Dr. Imundo, fellows will prepare and present a case, including clinical data, timeline and literature review, for an open and professional multidisciplinary team discussion aimed at improving patient care.

Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Imaging Conference (Fridays)

The Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Imaging Conference is held weekly on Friday mornings from 7 to 8 a.m., led by Dr. 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 the current cardiac imaging armamentarium, and 3D prints are often included in conference for reference and teaching of applicable topics.

Electrophysiology Conference (Fridays)

The Electrophysiology Conference, led by Dr. Imundo, where fellows learn a wide variety of pediatric electrophysiology topics in this weekly conference from 8 to 9 a.m., including didactic lectures on arrhythmias and their management, ECG and Holter monitor reviews, and case study reviews.

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, fellows are encouraged to participate in the Pediatric Cardiology – National Educational Curriculum 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. The program also participates in the “ECG of the Week” program coordinated by Dr. Glenn Wetzel at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. These virtual additions further enhance 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 the nationally acclaimed Clinical Simulation Center. Scheduled, recurring learning opportunities taught by 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.

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 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. 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.

International and Community Engagement Opportunities Expand answer

Global Health Elective – Ecuador

Third-year fellows in the program are offered an opportunity to participate in a global health elective 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 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 one- to two-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 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 the team on this trip as part of a global health elective, lending an outstanding opportunity for fellow-coordinated teaching.

Camp Lionheart

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 fellows look forward to each summer.

American Heart Association Heart Walk

The 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

Many 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 fellows attended. Many 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. The program hopes to make this event a tradition.

Fellow Honors and Recognitions

Resident/Fellow Research Day Presentations Expand answer

The annual Resident/Fellow Research Day is held each year (with exception of during the COVID-19 pandemic) on and around the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center campus.

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.

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