Program Description

The fellowship in Rheumatology is a dynamic two-year postdoctoral clinical based training program. The program is accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and approved for 4 positions. The program is designed to develop qualified physicians who are clinically competent in the field of rheumatology, are capable of working in a variety of settings and who possess habits of life-long learning to build upon their knowledge, skills and professionalism.

Diversity in training is obtained from exposure to varied patient populations, clinical and basic science seminars, x-ray conferences, pathology sessions, journal clubs and emphasis on one-on-one bedside teaching. Training encompasses the full spectrum of connective tissue diseases from patients with infectious arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, seronegative spondyloarthritis, systemic lupus erythematous, systemic vasculitis to patients with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia syndrome, gout, crystal induced arthritis and localized musculoskeletal pain conditions. Diversity of the clinical populations encountered at the clinics of Suncoast Internal Medicine Consultants and in the hospitals of Largo Medical Center and Bay Pines VAMC covers the full spectrum of rheumatologic and related diseases. Inpatient and outpatient settings are utilized to train fellows in rheumatology and provide additional exposure in the areas of musculoskeletal radiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, medical orthopedics, pain management, related pathology and clinical research.

Over the course of the program, trainees will develop clinical expertise in performing rheumatologic procedures, including joint aspiration as well as joint and soft tissue injection techniques. All training is closely supervised by dedicated attending physicians in a congenial environment. Fellows are directly responsible for the care of patients in outpatient settings working under the direction of a rheumatology attending physician and follow their patients throughout their training, to maximize continuity of care. Fellows are additionally responsible to the rheumatology consult service at both Largo Medical Center and Bay Pines VAMC. After initial evaluation of the inpatient, the fellow discusses diagnosis, management and treatment with the consulting physician. Consult fellows then follow the patient closely throughout the hospitalization writing daily progress notes and recommendations for management. Fellows also participate extensively in the education of residents, interns and medical students on the rheumatology service.

Many clinical research opportunities are available within the program involving clinical trials, health services and outcomes studies. Additionally, fellows spend two years in an independent research project to be carried out under the supervision of a chosen faculty mentor. Clinics run five days a week at both SIMC and Bay Pines VAMC. Facilities are available for fellows to have direct experience with MRI, DEXA, IVA, CT and a complete battery of immunologic tests for the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and collagen vascular diseases.

Qualifications of Candidates and Fellow Requirements

All applicants must have graduated from an accredited College of Osteopathic Medicine. All applicants must have completed an AOA-approved internal Medicine Residency. Applicants must be members of the AOA in good standing. Applicants will be, or apply to be members of the American College of Osteopathic Internists by the time of acceptance into the program. Accepted fellows must also obtain a temporary or permanent Florida state license prior to the start of the program. (The Department of Medical Education will assist all House Staff in expediting the licensing process).

Application Procedures

Largo Medical Center will fill one PGY-4 position each academic year. Candidates will complete the application provided by the Department of Medical Education. Original or notarized copies of educational records must be submitted with the application and other documentation listed. In addition, three letters of recommendation, including one from the Program Director of the Internal Medicine residency program, must be provided. A minimum of three evaluations from other Internal Medicine attending physicians, for rotations spent on their services, also must be provided. Qualified applicants will be asked to interview at Largo Medical Center. The Program Director and Rheumatology faculty will conduct these interviews.

The candidate will be notified of acceptance in writing. All candidates who have submitted an application and were not selected will also be notified in writing as soon as possible.

Academic Environment

Lecture series, conferences, journal clubs, and daily academic rounds round out the fellows’ clinical learning. Fellows receive a comprehensive structured cognitive and procedural clinical education in both inpatient and outpatient settings that will enable them to become competent, proficient and professional osteopathic rheumatologists.

Patient Care Experience

The program provides extensive participation in patient care across two medical campuses. Fellows also participate in a weekly outpatient clinic experience. Fellows receive exposure to patients across the disease and age spectrums.


The program is designed to provide educational and experiential input from a broad range of specialty providers at Largo Medical Center as well as affiliate institutions. The curriculum includes a core of didactics, which are modeled after the core competencies.


Fellows complete a 2 year training program. Working hours are generally 7:00am – 7:00pm. Fellows receive a total of 20 days of paid time off which can be used for vacation, personal needs, and holidays.