Physician Scientist Training Program

Physician Scientist Training Program

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The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Wake Forest University offers a 2-year Orthopaedic Physician Scientist Training Program. The program is a two year postdoctoral experience of mentored and protected basic science research time prior to clinical residency. The goal of the program is to provide applicants with a foundation in basic science research and the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a career in academic Orthopaedic Surgery. In addition, Physician Scientists have the opportunity to seek further education by pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in the Wake Forest Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Physician Scientist Program
Physician Scientist

Physician Scientists spend two years in the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories to pursue basic science in their respective field of interest within Orthopaedic Surgery. During this time, they are mentored by experienced basic science researchers and clinical collaborators. The protected research time allows the physician scientist to design studies and prepare competitive research grants and have access to collaborating departments (Biomedical Engineering, Regenerative Medicine, Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Biostatistics and Population Medicine, Translational Sciences).

The Physician Scientists gain valuable experience for future research and build confidence to act as independent principal investigators designing and executing experiments, generating preliminary data and writing research proposals and grants, and developing their skills in obtaining research funding, and publishing high quality research manuscripts.  The presentation of research findings at national and international conferences is encouraged. Annual meetings attended on a regular basis include the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Orthopaedic Research Society, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, North Carolina Orthopaedic Association, Southern Orthopaedic Association and Eastern Orthopaedic Association.

During the two year program, Physician Scientists do not have any call obligations; however, they participate in the core educational curriculum of the 5-year residency including educational conferences, Orthopaedic Grand Rounds and subspecialty journal clubs. In addition, physician scientists may serve as medical student facilitators, and mentor postdoctoral fellows, medical students, and visiting international medical students and collaborate with fellow residents in research projects.

The Physician Scientist Training Program was initiated in 1999 and as of 2014, physician scientists at our institution have contributed 124 peer-reviewed articles to the orthopaedic literature and received $279,724 from extramural grants for their proposed research. Graduates of the Physician Scientist Training Program have continued their careers in academic Orthopaedic Surgery. Since the beginning of the Graduate School collaboration in 2006, physician scientists have successfully obtained a PhD degree in Neuroscience, Molecular Medicine, and Translational Science. One current physician scientist is a PhD candidate and two physician scientists are currently enrolled as graduate PhD students (Neuroscience, Molecular Medicine and Translational Science).

After successfully completing the two year Physician Scientist Training Program, the fellows may apply to the 5-year categorical orthopaedic residency.  Their application will be followed by a formal interview during the normal interview sessions.


Perform professionally following the Wake Forest Baptist Hospital (WFBH) code of conduct and following all WFBH policies and procedures as well as professionalism, demonstration of commitment to life long learning and team work.

Relationship to 5-Year Residency

The Physician Scientist Program is a 2-year postdoctoral experience separate from Wake Forest's 5-year Orthopaedic Residency Program.  In order to comply with ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) and NRMP (National Resident Matching Program) guidelines, the Physician Scientist Program is not directly linked to the 5-year Orthopaedic Residency Program.  Therefore, if you wish to pursue your residency training at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, you must complete the standard process which includes, in part, an ERAS residency application, registration for the match, and adherence to the ACGME and NRMP guidelines.

The goal of the physician scientist program is to provide an academic platform to become a successful academic Orthopaedic surgeon.  The program's core mission is to foster an understanding of society care; develop scientific knowledge; learn practice/research based learning and improvement; improve interpersonal and communication skills; enhance professionalism; and understand systems-based research process and development.  Success is defined by adherence to these basic principles and an earnest research effort toward a postgraduate degree.  Progress is evaluated through quarterly assessment meetings with documentation.

Although the physician scientist program and the residency are not linked; they are synergistic and application to the residency is encouraged and supported within the NMRP guidelines.  Successful completion of the physician scientist program is factored significantly by the selection committee.

Application Process

The Physician Scientist Training Program is a 2-year fellowship that is not part of the NRMP match. 

Candidates are asked to apply via the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). There is no separate program code for the Physician Scientist Program. Candidates are asked to send a short letter expressing their interest to Thomas L. Smith, PhD. Once that is received, their file will receive consideration for both the traditional (5 year) residency program and the Physician Scientist Fellowship Program.  All candidates must be U.S. Medical School Graduates or have received ECFMG certification.  In addition, applicants are required to be either U.S. citizens or permanent residents at the time of application.

Application Deadline for the Physician Scientist Program: October 17, 2014

Interview Committee:  L. Andrew Koman, MD (Chair)
Beth P. Smith, PhD (Director of Orthopaedic Research Laboratory)
Thomas L. Smith, PhD (Basic Science Mentor)
Robert D. Teasdall, MD (Professor and Residency Program Director)
Michael T. Freehill, MD (Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery)
Christopher J. Tuohy, MD (Clinical Director of Research for Orthopaedics)



Quick Reference

Residency Program, Orthopaedic Surgery
Artina Dawkins, MPA
Residency Program Coordinator

Telephone 336-716-3448
FAX 336-716-3861
Patients 336-716-8200


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Last Updated: 09-18-2015
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.