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WVU Department of Anesthesiology announces three new fellowship programs

The West Virginia University School of Medicine has received Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education approval of three new fellowships: acute pain medicine and regional anesthesia; adult cardiothoracic anesthesiology; and multidisciplinary pain.

Robert Johnstone, M.D., FASA, chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, said the fellowships address critical needs for West Virginia.

“These new programs help address two important health issues facing our state – high rates of heart disease and opioid abuse,” said Dr. Johnstone. “Receiving ACGME approval of these fellowships recognizes the national importance of the work we’re doing at WVU.”

Acute Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesia

The acute pain medicine and regional anesthesia fellowship’s first fellow starts Oct. 1, and Nicole Hollis, D.O., assistant professor of anesthesiology, will be the fellowship director for the program. This hospital-based subspecialty position treats in-patient pain from both trauma and surgery through a variety of ways that reduce exposing patients to potentially habit-forming medications.

“This fellowship will increase the number of physicians who are highly trained in non-opioid pain management and may decrease the burden of the opioid epidemic in our state,” said Kevin King, D.O., assistant professor of anesthesiology.

According to Dr. King, current medical evidence suggests adequately treating pain early reduces the occurrence of chronic pain.

“The public can be assured that if they have surgery or are in an accident, WVU has anesthesiology physicians who specialize in the interventional or procedure-based treatment of pain for hospitalized patients, whatever the source of that pain is,” he said.

Adult Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology

The adult cardiothoracic fellowship provides two positions per year, starting July 1.

“We are committed to building a fellowship program that produces competent, thoughtful cardiac anesthesiologists who are proficient in advanced perioperative transesophageal echocardiography,” said Heather Hayanga, M.D., M.P.H., FASA, FASE, associate professor of anesthesiology and fellowship director.

The fellowship trains doctors in anesthesia for cardiovascular patients with an array of heart-related procedures, from minimally invasive to full transplant.

Matthew Ellison, M.D., M.M.M., FASA, FASE, an associate professor and director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Anesthesiology in the Department of Anesthesiology will also work with the fellowship program. 

“WVU has the only anesthesiology residency in the state and now has the only adult cardiothoracic anesthesiology fellowship. We have a responsibility to guarantee the quality of our graduates and we are uniquely positioned to provide the highest standard of instruction in cardiac anesthesiology through a wide breadth of exposure in clinical and outcomes research,” said Ellison.

Multidisciplinary Pain

The multidisciplinary pain fellowship emphasizes a team approach to manage chronic pain.

“Multiple specialties come together to care for patients in a comprehensive and integrated clinic,” Richard Vaglienti, M.D., M.B.A., WVU Medicine Pain Clinic medical director, said.

Vaglienti, who also serves as the fellowship program director, said the fellowship provides training opportunities for the fellows, while allowing patients to be treated in an out-patient clinical setting.

“The opioid crisis has been well documented in the state, and caring for patients through a variety of specialties without opioid use is important,” he said. “To be able to see, learn from and have a hand in that process is a valuable opportunity for a doctor pursuing the mission of helping those with chronic pain long term.”

The multidisciplinary pain fellowship starts July 1.