Southwest Spine & Sports Interventional Spine and Musculoskeletal Fellowship

Thank you for your interest in our fellowship!

Created in 2003, the 12-month fellowship is committed to excellence in intensive clinical and interventional training. Our fellows polish clinical evaluation and decision-making skills in spine and general musculoskeletal disorders, as well as acquire competence in fluoroscopy-guided spine interventions (cervical and lumbar). Other key elements of the fellowship training include electrodiagnostics, radiographic assessment, musculoskeletal ultrasound (for injection guidance and diagnostics), and business of outpatient practice.

Southwest Spine and Sports is a dynamic outpatient physiatry group based in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ. Most of the procedures are performed at an affiliated Medicare-certified ambulatory center adjacent to our North Scottsdale office.

Program Description:

Each fellow always works under the direct one-to-one supervision of a faculty physician. A typical week consists of 3 days in outpatient clinics and 2 days in procedure centers. Our case mix is generally 70% spine, 30% general musculoskeletal.

In addition to spine procedures, there is a significant volume of EMG’s, diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasounds, and ultrasound-guided joint and soft tissue injections (including platelet-rich plasma therapies [PRP]).

Two fellows will be selected each year. The fellowship is 12-month long. One fellow starts in mid-July, and another starts in mid-August. There is some flexibility to the start date with the approval of the Fellowship Director.

“My fellowship year at SWSS, to put it plainly, was incredible. Throughout the year I was able to both refine and improve my clinical, examination and NCS/EMG skills. Not only did I gain tremendous knowledge of various ultrasound guided injections and fluoroscopic interventional procedures, but I also was exposed to innovative and cutting-edge treatments in the world of Regenerative medicine. The fellowship also educated me on the business aspects of running a private practice, and such preparation I believe, is a necessity upon graduating. I was encouraged to be a critical-thinker with each and every patient, and as a result, not only did I become more knowledgeable as a physician, but I became more efficient, confident and compassionate. I highly recommend the Fellowship to anyone thinking of a career in Interventional Spine, Sports and Musculoskeletal medicine.”

Franz Jones, D.O., Past fellow 2016-2017

Clinic responsibilities

The fellow evaluates and manages a wide range of physical medicine cases including spine disorders and pain, joint and soft tissue injuries and pain, central pain (eg, complex regional pain syndrome), and neuropathies. There will be significant exposure to occupational and sports medicine.

Fluoroscopy-guided procedures

A fellow’s training typically involves 1400 to 1800 fluoroscopy-guided interventional cases over the course of the year. Fellows perform these cases under close guidance of faculty physicians.

Upon completion, fellows are expected to be highly competent performing the following:

  • Lumbosacral epidural (transforaminal, interlaminar, caudal with and without Racz catheter)
  • Cervical epidural (transforaminal, interlaminar)
  • Lumbar facet procedures (medial branch blocks, RFA, intra-articular)
  • Cervical facet procedures (medial branch blocks, RFA)
  • Selective nerve root blocks (lumbar, cervical)
  • Sacroiliac joint injections
  • Hip intra-articular injections
  • Disc procedures: provocation discography, intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty (IDEA), nucleoplasty
  • Thoracic procedures (epidural, SNRB, medial branch block, RFA, intercostal nerve block)
  • Spinal cord stimulator trials

“The fellowship at SWSS offers a great opportunity for residents to experience Sports and Spine medicine in the real world seeing a wide variety of patients from different backgrounds. The fellowship has given me the opportunity to treat the patients from a multi-modal approach. I was trained on the use of fluroscopic and ultrasound guided injections and their varied roles in treating pain. The fellowship has provided an opportunity to grow as a new physician out of training and hone in the skills and confidence to treat patients on a full time basis. Additionally I was able to gain some perspective on the business aspects of medicine that prove valuable in practice. “

Nikhil Shetty, M.D., Past Fellow 2016-2017

Office-based procedures

  • EMG – Fellows will maintain and enhance electrodiagnostic skills throughout this fellowship. Fellows typically perform 2-5 EMG cases per week.
  • Musculoskeletal ultrasound – Ultrasound is used extensively for needle guidance in peripheral injections and for diagnostic purposes.
  • Joint / bursa / trigger point injections
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy

Research and education

  • Journal clubs are held every week to review the relevant literatures. Fellows take active part in journal clubs and must present every month.
  • Fellows are expected to be involved in at least one research project during the fellowship, to be completed and submitted for presentation and/or publication.
  • Fellows take part in teaching medical students (we have rotation agreement with Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine) and visiting PM&R residents.
  • The program encourages and supports fellows to participate in academy meetings, procedural workshops and other educational meetings throughout the year.
  • Fellows rotate with a neuroradiologist reviewing cases during dedicated time blocks.

In addition, opportunities exist to cover local high school teams and athletic events for those interested.

“The fellowship at SWSS offers prospective residents an opportunity to hone their skills in a breadth of areas. During my fellowship training I had the opportunity to gain great experience in a multitude of both fluoroscopic and ultrasound guided injections. I was also educated on how to perform an efficient, high-quality exam, how to read neuroimaging, and had an opportunity to polish my skills in NCS/EMG. All training takes place in a private-practice setting which helps facilitate learning some of the business aspects of medicine. I would recommend the fellowship to anyone wanting to build a solid foundation in Interventional Spine and Musculoskeletal care!”

Jeffrey Zeckser, M.D., Past Fellow 2014-2015

Living in Phoenix / Scottsdale Area:

Scottsdale is well-known for sunny climate, natural beauty and world-class resorts. The area boasts first-rate shopping and restaurants of all varieties. Sports enthusiasts will appreciate all that the area has to offer, including hiking, golf, tennis, Diamondbacks baseball, Cardinals football and Suns basketball. There are numerous resort-style residential communities in North Scottsdale.

Application Process:

Potential fellows will need to have completed an ACGME-accredited residency program in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and be ABPMR board certified or eligible. Applicants currently in residency must be in good standing at their respective programs and must have successfully completed USMLE Step 3 (or the COMLEX equivalent), in order to be considered.

We start accepting applications in April for the following year’s positions. To apply, please submit CV, brief personal statement, and three (3) letters of recommendation to the following address:

Southwest Spine & Sports
9913 N 95th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
Attn: Fellowship Coordinator

Applicants may also email their CV and personal statement to Fellowship Coordinator at:

Selected candidates will be invited to interview with us. An interview visit typically spans two days, which allows ample time for the candidate to interact with faculty physicians and current fellows, and to observe our clinic and procedures.

In addition, we welcome PM&R residents to rotate with us on an externship rotation. If interested, please contact Fellowship Coordinator at:


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Michael Wolff, M.D. (Fellowship Director. Medical school – Georgetown; Residency – Ohio State; Fellowship – Illinois Spine & Sports)

Current Fellows:

2017-2018: Andrew Cooper, D.O. (Medical School – Midwestern University (Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine), Residency – Michigan State University PM&R)

2017-2018: Christina Nguyen, D.O., M.S. (Medical School – UNT Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine; Residency – University of Texas Health at San Antonio)

Past Fellows (and their Residencies):

2016-2017: Franz Jones, D.O. (Medical School – Nova Southeastern University, Residency – Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital)

2016-2017: Nikhil Shetty, M.D. (Medical School – Wayne State University, Residency – Oakland University William Beaumont Hospital)

2015-2016: Edward Li, M.D. (Medical School – American University of Antigua, Residency – SUNY Upstate University Hospital)

2014-2015: Joshua Goodwin, M.D. (Medical School – University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Residency – University of Texas Health Science Center)

2014-2015: Jeffrey Zeckser, M.D. (Medical School – University of Nebraska Medical Center, Residency – Virginia Commonwealth University)

2013-2014: David Stone, M.D. (Medical School – University of Virginia School of Medicine, Residency – University of Colorado)

2013-2014: Levi Miller, D.O (Medical School – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Residency – University of Washington)

2012-13: Dr. Hai Luong (Medical school – Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University; Residency – University California Davis Medical Center)

2012-13: Dr. Katiuska (Kathy) Dos Santos (Medical school – Central University of Venezuela; Residency – Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN)

2011-12: Matthew Terzella, M.D. (Medical school – New York Medical College; Residency – UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson)

2011-12: Hisashi Kobayashi, M.D. (Medical school – Tufts; Residency – Tufts)

2010-11: Lata Kumaraswamy, DO (Michigan St); John Jones, M.D. (Univ of Colorado)

2009-10: Tom Coury, DO (Univ of Kentucky); Phillip Wallace, M.D. (Univ of Texas – San Antonio)

2008-09: Jason Sherman, M.D. (Ohio St); Emily DeSantis, DO (Michigan St)

2007-08: Mike Simek, M.D. (Ohio St)

2006-07: Benjamin Humpherys, DO (Michigan St)

2004-05: Anthony Lee, M.D. (Univ of Pennsylvania)