Skip Navigation


Program Overview and Goals

The Rheumatology Fellowship Program of the Wake Forest School of Medicine accepts applicants who have completed, or are about to complete, Internal Medicine residency training, are eligible to sit for the American Board of Internal Medicine certification exam, and wish to receive further training in the subspecialty of Rheumatology.  Both two and three year clinical and research positions are offered.  The goals of the program are to: (1) train clinical rheumatologists in a setting that emphasizes teaching of musculoskeletal and autoimmune disorders, practical skills, and offers specialized training in certain specialized invasive procedures if desired; and (2) train academic rheumatologists with an emphasis on developing careers in clinical or laboratory research.  A strength of the Wake Forest University Rheumatology Fellowship Program is the ability and capacity to design the training for fellows on an individual basis such that either of these goals can be met.

Under the direction of Kenneth S. O’Rourke, M.D., the Section’s fellowship program offers two broadly defined tracts, allowing residents to focus their training to a desired career path:

  1. A two-year clinical track in rheumatology
  2. A three-year (minimum) research track for fellows interested in careers in academic medicine. There are two research tracks:
    1. A clinical scientist academic track, during which fellows complete the requirements for a master's degree in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Services Research through the Department of Public Health Sciences during their final two years. This track requires a separate application to the Dept. of PHS, and is dependent on Section/Departmental (Int. Med.) funding to cover the cost of tuition.
    2. physician scientist academic track. Under this track trainees may enter (a) after completion of an ACGME-accredited, three-year internal medicine residency, into a traditional 3-5 year mentored research fellowship program, or (b) within the prescribed six-year ABIM research pathway, which requires initial acceptance beginning with the Wake Forest School of Medicine Internal Medicine residency program.

The first year of training, the fellow spends four half days in the outpatient rheumatology clinics of the Wake Forest Baptist Health system.  This very active clinic cares for a large patient population providing the fellow an opportunity to evaluate and treat a variety of rheumatic problems. The fellow also rotates on the rheumatology consult service which averages approximately 30 consults per month.  Faculty teaching in the clinic and on the consult team is supplemented by a complete program of conferences.  A formal curriculum covers, over two years, areas of fundamental clinical and basic sciences knowledge in rheumatology.  Regular conferences include Arthritis Rounds (monthly), Research Conference (monthly), Journal Club (monthly), Practice Based Learning and Improvement Conference (monthly), Radiology and Pathology Conferences (monthly), and Core Curriculum Conference (weekly).  The succeeding year(s) of the program is designed to meet the clinical or research objective of each tract. Additional didactic and hands-on instruction in musculoskeletal ultrasound is provided. These scheduled learning activities are complemented by the twice-yearly, three-day Carolina Fellows Conferences, wherein the fellows and their Program Directors from the four North and South Carolina fellowship programs (WFU, Duke, MUSC, UNC) meet for jointly provided educational sessions that include didactic presentations and hands-on workshops including cadaver-based arthrocentesis training.

Participation in a research project is a component of all training tracts.  At the start of the first year, all fellows meet with each of the faculty to discuss potential clinical and basic research projects and to choose a faculty mentor.  Fellows with an interest primarily in clinical rheumatology may choose to work with a faculty mentor on either a clinical or laboratory oriented project.  The project is initiated during the first year and finished within the second or third year while the fellow continues clinical training.  Fellows interested in laboratory research training as part of a physician scientist tract will choose a faculty mentor who assists the fellow in the development of a basic laboratory research project. The fellow's clinical schedule is reduced during the second and further years to allow for more research time.  The research interests of the faculty are broad and include clinical research in rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, SLE, and teaching methods in rheumatology education.  Basic research of the faculty include: molecular mechanisms of cellular immune dysfunction in SLE, signal transduction in B cells, and the pathogenesis and treatment of atherosclerosis in SLE.  See the individual faculty listings for further details.

Recent Rheumatology Fellows

Listed below are our most recent fellows and their internal medicine residency programs for the current and prior four classes:

Year Entered           Name      Internal Medicine Residency 
2015       Nagina Kushwaha, MD      Nepal Medical College, Nepal 
        Amit Patel, MD          Medical College of Georgia at   
               Georgia Regents University, GA  
 2014       Sadiq Ali, MD      Northeast Ohio Medical University, OH 


Year Graduated    NameInternal Medicine Residency
2015 Amer Al-Khoudari, MD University of Toledo, OH 
 Brett Smith, DO University of Kentucky, KY 
 Nihad Yasmin, MD Medical College of Georgia, GA 
2013Erin Shiner, MD, PhDWake Forest University, NC
 Philip Stapleton, MD, PhD    Winthrop University, NY
 Nicole Walton, DOMedical College of Georgia, GA
2012Alison Johnson, MDCarolinas Medical Center, NC
2011Leslie Pack, MDCarolinas Medical Center, NC


To Apply for a Rheumatology Fellowship

The Section on Rheumatology participates in the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Applications must include a minimum three letters of reference, preferably one of which should be from a rheumatologist.

To access the ERAS website go to:

If you have any questions regarding the fellowship program, you may contact Alycia Smith via email at or via telephone at (336) 716-4293.

The Wake Forest School of Medicine

The Wake Forest School of Medicine is part of Wake Forest University, and in conjunction with North Carolina Baptist Hospital, forms a Medical Center, which is a regional referral center for an area of nearly five million people.  The Medical Center trains students in medicine as well as in allied health fields including physician assistants, medical technologists and nurse anesthetists.  The Medical Center offers training programs for house officers in 23 specialties, each of which is approved by the Council of Medical Education in Hospitals of the American Medical Association and their respective specialty boards. The Medical School also has basic science programs with graduate training in Biochemistry, Cancer Biology, Comparative Medicine, Neurobiology/Anatomy and Physiology/Pharmacology.  Wake Forest University has very large and distinguished Department of Public Health Sciences which offers graduate training in Epidemiology.  The Medical Center is well known for its outstanding clinical training but also has placed additional emphasis on continuing achievements in medical research.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Wake Forest University

Wake Forest is a small, comprehensive university that has been consistently ranked as one of our Nation's finest.  The undergraduate population totals 3,800 with 2,300 graduate and professional students.  Wake Forest College moved to Winston-Salem from its previous location in Wake Forest, North Carolina in 1956.  Winston-Salem is a city of approximately 171,000 located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina.  The city has a moderate climate with an average year-round temperature of 59º.  It is conveniently located about one and a half hours from the mountains and three to four hours from the Atlantic coast beaches.  Winston-Salem has long been known for its support of the arts, and its residents enjoy a wide variety of cultural activities.  Many of these are sponsored through Wake Forest University and through the North Carolina School of the Arts, which is also located in Winston-Salem.  The cost of living in Winston-Salem is very reasonable and a variety of rental houses and apartments, as well as houses for sale are available for incoming fellows.

Quick Reference

School of Medicine
Student Financial Aid


Student Affairs


Student Records



9:00am - 4:00pm
Find A Doctor Ways to Give
Last Updated: 02-14-2017
Six Wake Forest Baptist Specialties Earn U.S. News RankingsComprehensive Cancer Centers National Designation is Renewed2017-2018 Best DoctorsNursing Magnet StatusJoint Commission Report

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.

© Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157. All Rights Reserved.