Ashwin Kumaria, Antony H. Bateman, Niall Eames, Michael G. Fehlings, Christina Goldstein, Bernhard Meyer, Scott J. Paquette, Albert J. M. Yee

November 2019, Volume 28, Issue 11, pp 2437 - 2443 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-019-06098-8

First Online: 12 August 2019


The purpose of this article is to review the importance of contemporary spine surgery fellowships and educational strategies to assist with fellowship design and delivery.


Spine surgery fellowship includes trainees from orthopaedic and neurosurgical backgrounds and is increasingly indicated for individuals wishing to pursue spine surgery as a career, recognizing how spinal surgery evolved significantly in scope and complexity. We combine expert opinion with a review of the literature and international experience to expound spine fellowship training.


Contemporary learning techniques include boot camps at the start of fellowship which may reinforce previous clinical learning and help prepare fellows for their new clinical roles. There is good evidence that surgical specialty training boot camps improve clinical skills, knowledge and trainee confidence prior to embarking upon new clinical roles with increasing levels of responsibility. Furthermore, as simulation techniques and technologies take on an increasing role in medical and surgical training, we found evidence that trainees’ operative skills and knowledge can improve with simulated operations, even if just carried out briefly. Finally, we found evidence to suggest a role for establishing competence-based objectives for training in specific operative and technical procedures. Competence-based objectives are helpful for trainees and trainers to highlight gaps in a trainee’s skill set that may then be addressed during training.


Spinal fellowships may benefit from certain contemporary strategies that assist design and delivery of training in a safe environment. Interpersonal factors that promote healthy teamwork may contribute to an environment conducive to learning.

Graphic abstract

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