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Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship

Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship

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The Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship 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 Penn State Children’s Hospital Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship provides trainees with the experience base and academic training needed to become successful academic rheumatologists.

“My training at Penn State prepared me for diagnosing and treating a good variety of Rheumatologic conditions. It also gave me the confidence to treat new conditions such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome due to COVID-19 infection. I had a very positive experience in my fellowship, and I will always look back fondly on my time at Penn State.”

– Sarah Sertial Paul, DO
Pediatric Rheumatologist
Goryeb Children’s Hospital at Morristown Medical Center

Fellows in the program benefit from a collegial core curriculum shared between all pediatric fellowships, in addition to program-specific curriculum that prepares them well for the practice of evidence-based medicine and board exams.

The program’s location in Hershey, adjacent to larger urban areas, provides an interesting mix of ethnicities and disease processes, from immunodeficiency-associated autoimmunity in the Amish to more conventional systemic lupus erythematosus in Hispanic and African-American patients. Fellows benefit from a variety of practice styles from a number of faculty members, all of whom trained at different academic centers. They also benefit from a close collaboration with the adult rheumatology division of the adjoining Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for both their first-year clinical rotation and combined academic conferences.

The program is well-supported by excellent pediatric hematology/oncology infusion services. The ready availability of anesthesia services in pediatric procedure rooms and divisional ultrasound resources facilitate management of refractory juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients. Faculty member Timothy Hahn, MD, is a USSONAR-certified ultrasonographer who aims to ensure that all incoming fellows develop a similar competence.

Learn More about the Fellowship

Program Director's Welcome Expand answer

Dear prospective fellow,

Thank you for your interest in our program. We serve a large geographic region with a catchment of approximately 1 million children of diverse ethnic and sociodemographic backgrounds. Our practice model has always involved several outreach clinics that you will be free to experience. We have developed a core of excellent nurse educators who will make your life as a fellow here much less hectic. Community engagement activities such as camp participation and volunteer work at Arthritis Foundation events are encouraged. We will be as interested in your quality of life as your quality of education.

Look us over, and feel free to contact me with any questions. We look forward to working with you.

Brandt Groh, MD
Program Director

A group of 11 people are pictured in two rows (one standing, one sitting) at a table that has a large cake on it.

Division of Pediatric Rheumatology team, February 2020

Wellness Initiatives 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

Dr. Natalya Gaffney has taken on a departmental role in promoting wellness activities. As a division, pediatric rheumatology strongly encourages getting out to enjoy the natural beauty of central Pennsylvania by participating in outdoor activities. Division faculty have recreational interests ranging from competitive cycling to dance instruction, hiking and kayaking.

To Apply Expand answer

General Application Information

The Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship participates in the National Residency Matching Program 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.

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.


  • Applicants must have completed an ACGME-accredited residency in pediatrics or internal medicine/pediatrics before the fellowship starting 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.
  • 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 rheumatologist and one from the residency program director.
  • Dean’s letter
  • Medical school transcripts
  • USMLE/COMLEX transcripts
  • For international medical graduates, ECFMG certification

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 possible, as interview dates are limited and may fill quickly.

Faculty Expand answer

Pediatric rheumatology division faculty have received a number of departmental teaching awards and are dedicated to fellow education. Faculty members serve as reviewers for specialty-specific journals and contribute to both online and textbook educational offerings.

Current Fellows Expand answer
Past Fellows Expand answer
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 new-for-2020 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 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 548-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 28,500 admissions, 75,000 emergency department visits, 1.1 million outpatient visits and 32,000 surgical procedures annually
  • Designated as a Magnet hospital three times

Learn more about Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Penn State Children’s Hospital

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

  • A five-story, 263,000-square-foot-facility built in 2013
  • Three-floor expansion opened in November 2020
  • Level IV (highest-level) neonatal intensive care unit
  • Level I (highest-level) pediatric trauma center designation
  • Dedicated pediatric operating rooms
  • More than 150,000 pediatric outpatient visits and approximately 5,000 pediatric patient discharges annually

Learn more about Penn State Children’s Hospital

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:

Wellness Initiatives 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

Diversity Expand answer

Institutional Resources

Penn State Health celebrates, embraces and supports the diversity of all patients, faculty, staff, students and trainees.

Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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

  • Regular talks and lectures on diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Periodic town halls on topics such as eradicating racism and creating a culture of inclusiveness
  • An allyship support group
  • Many affinity resource network groups, including:
    • Disability Affinity Resource Network Group
    • Group on Women in Medicine and Science
    • Interfaith Affinity Resource Network Group
    • LGBTQ and Allies Affinity Resource Network Group
    • Military/Veterans Affinity Resource Network Group
    • Multicultural Affinity Resource Network Group
    • NextGen
  • A new organization specifically for trainees, the Network of Underrepresented Residents and Fellows

Learn more about the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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

Contact Us Expand answer

Mailing Address

Penn State Children’s Hospital
Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship
Attn.: Jennifer Gebhart
500 University Dr., MC H085
P.O. Box 850
Hershey, PA 17033

General Contact Information

Phone: 717-531-5458


Curriculum Details

Program/Rotation Overview and Electives Expand answer

New Fellow Boot Camp

All fellows participate in the American College of Rheumatology-sponsored Virtual Rheumatology Practicum in July and August of their first year.

Rotation Overview

Year 1

  • Inpatient consultations – 11 months
  • Staff outpatient clinics (five half-days per week) – 11 months
  • Fellow continuity clinic (one half-day per week) – 11 months
  • Adult rheumatology – four weeks
  • Pediatric orthopaedics – two weeks
  • Musculoskeletal radiology – one week
  • Pediatric ophthalmology – one week
  • Physical and occupational therapies – one week

Year 2

  • Scholarly and quality improvement projects – 11 months
  • Fellow continuity clinic – 11 months

Year 3

  • Scholarly and quality improvement projects – 11 months
  • Fellow continuity clinic – 11 months


  • AMPS program (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
  • Sports medicine for additional injection training
Didactic Series and Conferences Expand answer

Cassidy Lecture Series

Frequency: Weekly (Mondays or Fridays)

To ensure a solid rheumatologic knowledge base and help prepare fellows for both in-service and eventual board exams, this series works through Cassidy’s Textbook of Pediatric Rheumatology chapter by chapter, with faculty and fellows sharing the task of lecture-style presentations.

Fellow Core Curriculum Series

Frequency: Monthly (second Monday of each month)

The Fellow Core Curriculum Series is a set of two-hour structured didactic sessions occurring monthly. 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 physician wellness, CV editing and negotiating employment agreements. This is treated as protected time during which fellows are free of clinical duties.

Pediatric Grand Rounds

Frequency: Weekly (Tuesdays)

A number of pediatric grand rounds presentations are relevant to care of pediatric rheumatology patients. In addition, additional review of general pediatric topics in the first year of fellowship will prepare trainees for the General Pediatrics board exam.

Combined Medicine/Pediatrics Rheumatology Grand Rounds

Frequency: Weekly (Fridays)

This conference is a composite of topic reviews by fellows, divisional staff and outside speakers; journal article reviews by fellows and divisional staff; and musculoskeletal radiology review of recent studies.

Fellow Evidence-Based Medicine Question Review/Journal Club

Frequency: Weekly (Tuesdays)

This forum is used during the first year of fellowship to present evidence-based medicine reviews generated by clinical questions that arise in the course of clinical care. During the second and third years of fellowship, this time may also be used to review seminal and journal articles in preparation for the subspecialty board exam.

Pediatric Rheumatology Division Meetings

Frequency: Monthly (second Friday of each month)

Fellow attendance and participation in divisional meetings is encouraged. These meetings facilitate interactions with all division staff members and keep trainees abreast of divisional issues, announcements, recent practice data and fellowship program updates.

Renal Pathology Conference

Frequency: Monthly (as needed)

This conference is used for review of interim renal biopsies from systemic lupus erythematosus and necrotizing vasculitis patients.

Divisional Quality Improvement Meeting

Frequency: Monthly (fourth Friday of each month)

Dr. Catherine Bingham leads divisional quality improvement (QI) efforts that align with her leadership role in the PR-COIN network. Fellows are directly involved in division QI projects in addition to developing and completing a QI project of their own.

Virtual Learning Opportunities

The American College of Rheumatology sponsors a number of webinars highlighting both basic science and clinical research topics.

Simulation Center Expand answer

Fellows will have the opportunities to participate in OSCE-style practicums in the nationally acclaimed Penn State College of Medicine Clinical Simulation Center.

Learn more about the Simulation Center

Research Expand answer

All trainees in the Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship 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.

After identifying a research mentor in the first year, fellows design a scholarly project that may involve laboratory and/or clinical research. The second and third years are spent conducting and reporting on this project under the supervision of a Scholarship Oversight Committee. Fellows are expected to participate in data collection and statistical analysis with the goal of developing at least one manuscript for eventual publication.

Research infrastructure at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center includes the Pediatric Research Group, Department of Public Health Sciences, Clinical and Translational Science Institute and laboratory facilities in the adult rheumatology division.

Fellow projects in the division thus far have included:

  • A translational genetic study of a patient family with combined immunodeficiency and rheumatologic disease
  • A prospective social media-based study examining the themes and impact of journaling in lupus patients
  • A translational study combining lab- and ultrasound-derived data in remitted juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients
  • A retrospective juvenile idiopathic arthritis database study facilitated by the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA)

The program encourages fellows to attend the Pennsylvania Rheumatology Society meeting annually as well as national American College of Rheumatology meetings. These venues provide additional forums for fellows to present their own work, to engage with researchers from other institutions across the country for inspiration, to further their education and to initiate long-term professional relationships.

More information on the research and educational interests of each faculty member is available in Pure, the University’s researcher directory. See all division faculty here; click each faculty member’s name for details on their specific interests.

Camp JRA Expand answer

Camp JRA is a weeklong summer camp for children 8 to 18 years old with rheumatologic disease. At camp, children have the opportunity to participate in traditional summer camp activities and learn about their disease, all while getting to know other children with similar challenges. The camp is staffed by camp counselors as well as medical personnel.

Pediatric rheumatology fellows have the opportunity to attend camp, lead various educational sessions and get to know the campers during activities such as fishing, archery, rock climbing, synchronized swimming and a variety of crafts.

This is an experience that fellows look forward to each summer!

Arthritis Foundation Events Expand answer

A Penn State Health pediatric rheumatology team participates annually in events that support the Arthritis Foundation, such as the annual Arthritis Walk and/or Jingle Bell Run, which are held locally at various locations.

Fellow Honors and Recognitions

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 Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship are listed here.

Other Fellow Awards Expand answer

Other honors received by trainees in the Pediatric Rheumatology Fellowship are listed here.

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