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Pain Management Fellowship

The Upstate Comprehensive Pain Management Center of the Department of Anesthesiology, SUNY HSC at Syracuse is one of the largest and oldest established services of its type in the upstate area. The chronic pain division was established in 1977 and was expanded in its scope and service to include the acute pain division in 1988. As the setting of the Center is a University Hospital, staff consists of Attending Anesthesiologists with certification in pain management, Fellows in pain management, residents in anesthesiology, Nurse Practitioners in both Chronic and Acute pain, and support staff. The Center provides patient care in six settings at the present time.

The Center utilizes a number of techniques not previously available for the diagnosis and therapy of acute and chronic pain. The Upstate Comprehensive Pain Management Center is the only totally comprehensive service in the Central New York area, and is one of a few in the country to offer integrated services for patients with both acute and chronic pain syndromes.

The Upstate Comprehensive Pain Management Center provides evaluation and treatment for patients who suffer from chronic intractable pain, which has not responded to conventional therapy. The Center also provides treatment for specific pain syndromes. Chronic pain is a long-term problem requiring the use of a number of techniques to establish the diagnosis and plan appropriate treatment directed toward:

  1. Prolonged, tolerable pain relief
  2. Reduction of dependency on medications, particularly narcotics
  3. Enabling the patient to lead a more productive and active life

Patients are accepted by physician referral only. Patients range from inner-city underserved populations to the suburban middle/upper class. Some of the common syndromes seen at the Upstate Comprehensive Pain Management Center include chronic low back pain syndromes, sympathetically medicated pain syndromes, e.g., CRPS, post-herpetic and diabetic neuralgias, post-operative neuralgias, deafferentation pain syndromes e.g., phantom limb pain, cancer pain and various myofascial pain syndromes. A variety of invasive and non-invasive modalities are utilized for therapy including pharmacological intervention, drug detoxification, various nerve blocks, neuro stimulators (spinal cord and peripheral nerve), cryoanalgiesia and radiotherapy and intrathecal and epidural narcotic infusion devices.

The Acute Pain Service provides for pain management for patients in the hospital who are experiencing acute pain resulting from trauma, surgery, or acute exacerbation of pain from a chronic syndrome such as cancer, vaso-occlusive disease, chronic neuropathic states, etc. The Acute Pain Service also provides multiple modalities for treatment of these occurrences including PCA, neuraxial and peripheral nerve blocks, and catheter placement, along with pharmacological manipulation. Due to the integration of the acute and chronic services, it is routine to transfer a patient to the chronic service once the acute episode is concluded. This provides a smooth transition and continuity of care for these patients.

Clinical Training Experience and Rotations

Pain Management Fellowship

Twelve months are spent on clinical training experience in Acute and Chronic Pain Management with direct daily supervision provided by the attending anesthesiologists. Supervision progresses from direct to indirect as required, as the clinical and managerial skills of the Pain Management Fellow progress.

Clinical Experience:

Pain Management trainees rotate two to three weeks with Neuroradiology in MRI and CT in direct contact with Neuroradiologists for specific instruction. They are also involved with the Spine Institute's orthopedic surgeons in the evaluation and diagnosis of common spine conditions. The trainees are also involved in the office-based chronic pain evaluations and procedures, surgical procedures involving Dorsal Column Stimulator placement, Intrathecal/epidural port-a-cath and Intrathecal Infusion pump implantation with anesthesiologists and with neurosurgeons. The trainees rotate through the departments of Psychiatry, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Neurology as a part of the ACGME curriculum.

Daily Routine:

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday:
07:30 Various blocks in Special Procedure X-ray, MRI and/or CT
08:30-16:30 Fellows chronic pain clinic at Upstate Bond and Joint Hospital on Fly Road.
09:00 Mon. & Tues at 550 Harrison Ctr. Patients are seen for initial evaluation, follow-up, procedures and all aspects of pain management.
11:00-14:00 Block procedures performed at Pain clinic at Fly Road.
14:00-16:30 550 Harrison Ctr. Patients are seen for initial evaluation, follow-up, procedures and all aspects of patient management.

07:00 M&M conference with entire Department of Anesthesiology at University Hospital, as well as attendings from local hospitals Clinic at VA Hospital consisting of consults, evaluations, blocks and case management.
08:00 Patients are seen for x-ray procedures at UH and then initial evaluations, follow-up, small procedures and all aspects of patient management at the Fly Road Clinic.

08:00 Alternating conference topics relating to pain management:
  • Research conference
  • Attending lectures
  • Case presentations and discussion
  • Fellow presentations
  • Pain equipment teaching, testing and certification
  • Pharmacology presentations
09:00-11:30 550 Harrison Ctr. Patients are seen for initial evaluation, follow-up, procedures and all aspects of patient management. Block procedures at the Harrison Ctr. Outpatient Surgery Center.
13:00-16:30 Didactic sessions.  Fellows attend educational presentations and rotation lectures; each fellow will prepare and present specified didactic lectures.

Supervise CA2/CA3 anesthesiology residents with Acute Pain Service coverage with nurse practitioners and attending support

Ongoing research project activities as required.

Pain Management Trainee

  • Alternating non-clinical day per week
  • Involved in teaching, lecturing to medical students, residents of other specialties, nursing and other personnel as required.
  • Teaching and physical dissection in regional block cadaver dissection course.
  • Ongoing involvement in various research projects.
  • Participation in QI / Community Service projects.
  • Evaluation of trainees is ongoing with daily feedback in addition to 1-3 month evaluations based on ABA Clinical Competency Standards.

Benefits Available

  • Vacation/Comp time
  • Malpractice insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Department benefits, including book & travel allowance
  • Balance Works program

Current Salary:   

  • $66,318

Selection Process for Pain Management Trainees:   

Pain management trainees are recruited through the ERAS system. The candidate is expected to satisfactorily complete a residency in anesthesiology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Neurology, or Psychiatry, and be board eligible. Following screening of all candidates by the Director and partial review by other faculty, appropriate candidates are scheduled for interviews. The interview process consists of at least one full day in the parent institution, on and off campus clinic sites where the candidate may inspect the facilities and meet with the staff. They are then interviewed by the Director of Pain Management, one or two other associates, Director of the Core Anesthesia Program and present Fellows. Candidates who express continued interest, after this section of the process are reviewed and subjectively discussed.

The following procedures are available within the institution
  • Radiographic study, fluoroscopy, CAT scanning, laboratory facilities, psychiatric, psychological testing, physiatry, EGG, MRI
  • Conference facilities and research space and opportunity also are abundant within the institution
  • In addition to a comprehensive Anesthesiology library, the fellows have full access to the institution library

Multi-Disciplinary Pain Faculty

  • P. Sebastian Thomas, MD, Professor, Chair of Anesthesiology; Director, Pain Fellowship Program
  • Barbara Krenzer, MD, Professor, Palliative Care
  • Michael Vertino, MD, Associate Professor, Neurology
  • Brian Johnson, MD, Associate Professor, Psychiatry
  • Dorothy Hwang, MD, Assistant Professor, Pain Attending VA Medical Center
  • Angela Mahajan, MD, Assistant Professor, Pain Attending
  • Vandana Sharma, MD, Assistant Professor, Pain Attending
  • Norton B Berg, Phd, Professor Emeritus, Cell and Developmental Biology

Requirements & How to Apply

The Pain Management Fellowship at Upstate Medical University accepts 5 pain fellows per year. Fellows will start on July 1st and finish on June 30th. 

All applicants must have completed an ACGME accredited residency in the United States in: Anesthesiology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Neurology, or Psychiatry.

We support J1 Visas only.

Fellows will be selected solely through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) . Applications are accepted only through the Electronic Residency Application System (ERAS)  and join the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).

We will be continuously reviewing applications from December 1st through mid-April.   

Pain Medicine's NRMP program code is: 1516530F0.

Please access the Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database (FREIDA) for more information. In order to apply to the program, we require all medical school graduates to submit the following: 

  • ERAS Application
  • CV
  • USMLE or COMLEX test scores
  • Letters of Reference (3 or more)
  • Personal Statement
  • Medical School Transcript
  • Photo (optional)

The Fellowship Selection Committee will review your application after all information is entered into the ERAS program.  Due to the high volume of applications, applicants are strongly urged to refrain from calling to inquire whether an interview has been granted.

Hotel/Travel Information

Syracuse is easily accessible by a variety of transportation means. It is located at the crossroads of two major interstate highways, I-90 (east-west) and I-81 (north-south). Syracuse's Hancock International Airport is served by six major airlines with approximately 200 passenger flights arriving and departing daily. Greyhound and Trailways provide inter-city, inter-state bus service passenger service while CENTRO services the city and suburban areas. Amtrak provides rail passenger service to and from the William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center.

Note to Applicants: We are not able to make arrangements for accommodations for each of you, but we would like to suggest The Genesee Grande Hotel at 1060 East Genesee St. They offer a reduced room rate and COMPLIMENTARY shuttle service (check with them regarding hours of shuttle) to and from Hancock International Airport, Bus Station, Train Station and they are within walking distance to Upstate Medical University. To make a phone reservation, please call: 1-800-365-4663 - PLEASE STATE THAT YOU ARE A MEDICAL INTERVIEW RESIDENT. You will need the following information:

  • Name
  • Arrival and departure date
  • Phone #
  • Address
  • Transportation needs—flight, bus, train
  • Time of arrival and what carrier
  • Credit card #
  • Expiration date

If you are driving to the interview, please use the Visitor Parking Garage EAST across the street from the Hospital on East Adams St. We will provide you with a parking pass to get out of the garage free of charge at the end of the day!

Contact:  Jo Yancey:  yanceyj@upstate.edu

All Other Inquiries:

P. Sebastian Thomas, MD
Program Director, Pain Management Fellowship
Department of Anesthesiology
Upstate Medical University
750 East Adams Street
Syracuse, NY 13210

Phone: 315 464-4891

NOTE:  Beginning July 1, 2017, all candidates entering residency or fellowship programs at Upstate on or after July 1, 2017 will be subject to a pre-employment (post-offer) drug test.  This includes any prior Upstate resident/fellow who has had a break in service and is returning to employment.  For candidates entering residency or fellowshp programs at Upstate, drug screening and final results must be available prior to the first day of their program as a prerequisite to employment.


EMPLOYMENT VERIFICATION:  Per our institutional policy, please contact our GME office for all employment verification requests:  employmentverification@upstate.edu.