Headache Fellowship Program

About the Headache Fellowship Program

The Division of Neurology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) offers a one-year fellowship in headache medicine. Our division includes a dedicated team of more than 50 clinical child neurologists, as well as nurse practitioners, residents, fellows, and other healthcare professionals and support staff who provide primary and consultative care to children with a wide variety of neurologic diseases in a tertiary care setting.           

The Headache Fellowship Program focuses specifically on pediatric headache, building on the expertise of the Pediatric Headache Program team. Our program includes multiple headache specialists, a headache nurse practitioner, a pediatric pain psychologist, a social worker and nurses. Pediatric outpatient and inpatient headache rotations educate fellows using a multidisciplinary and integrative whole-child approach. In clinical and research settings, we collaborate closely with colleagues in psychology, pediatrics, adolescent medicine, concussion, neuro-ophthalmology, neurosurgery and psychiatry. Electives will provide specific expertise in these areas.  

In order to learn cutting-edge headache treatments and headache conditions, which are more common in adults but can present in children (TACs, etc.), we offer two to three months of adult headache, taught by adult headache specialists with UCNS-certification. The majority of the adult headache education is conducted outpatient at a Penn Medicine satellite, in a clinic which also offers infusions and procedural treatments. This adult headache education is supplemented with an optional elective rotation at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ, where fellows can learn cutting-edge adult and adolescent headache care, concussion care, and imaging research. With these varied practice settings, fellows can observe various headache practice types in the same fellowship. 

We recognize that our fellows have a huge potential to have a positive impact either by staying at CHOP or going elsewhere, so we will invest in the fellows as potential colleagues for the long term. If fellows would like additional training in research after their clinical fellowship, there are abundant options which can be pursued over subsequent years. Specifically, there are two T32 grants through CHOP and Penn Neurology which can offer training in epidemiology and basic bench research. And CHOP has a long history of success with candidates obtaining funding through NIH and AAN training grants. Options will be explored on an individual basis with candidates.

Fellowship program director

Christina Szperka, MD
Director, Pediatric Headache Program
Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Division chief

Brenda Banwell, MD
Chief, Division of Neurology
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania 

Fellowship coordinator

Ashley Rees-Jones.
Program Coordinator, Neurology Center for Education, Research and Training
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Colket Translational Research Building, 10th Floor, Room 10200-17
3501 Civic Center Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
215-590-1722

Training and rotations

The Headache Fellowship Program meets the training requirements established by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties and follows this general structure:

  • 80 percent of the fellow’s time is spent in supervised activities related to the care of patients with headache or associated conditions.
    • 60 percent will be purely clinical, and will consist of five (5) half-day clinics per week, with one (1) half-day for coordination of patient care. This includes two to three months of adult headache at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, elective time at CHOP, and an optional elective rotation at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ.
    • 20 percent is dedicated to clinical education, including lectures, didactics and journal clubs.
  • 10 percent (one half-day per week) is spent in the general neurology clinic in order to maintain current practice of neurology.
  • 10 percent is devoted to research (clinical, translational or basic) per the fellow’s preference.

Research expectations and opportunities

Fellows must devote 10 percent of their time to research (clinical, translational or basic). Fellows are expected to write at least one (1) review article for publication during their fellowship in order to review the literature fully and hone their critical review skills.

Clinical procedure requirement

Peripheral nerve blocks and Botox injections are used very frequently in the care of patients with headaches. As a headache fellow, you are required to have a faculty member observe and sign off on 10 of each procedure.

Conference schedules

The majority of teaching is conducted in conjunction with clinical care. However, we offer the following additional educational opportunities:

  • Didactic sessions occur monthly in conjunction with our Headache Program meeting
  • Monthly journal clubs
  • Neuroscience Conference (Thursdays at 8 a.m.)
  • Neurology Department Grand Rounds (Wednesdays at noon)
  • Pediatric Grand Rounds (Wednesdays at 8 a.m.)
  • Other conferences at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia or the University of Pennsylvania conferences as appropriate

Our fellows are also encouraged to attend educational programs run through the American Headache Society, including the Chronic Migraine Education Programs, and fellow-oriented sessions run in conjunction with the meetings in November and June each year.

How to apply

This fellowship program does not participate in the national match. Please submit your application via email to reesjonesa@email.chop.edu or via mail to Ashley Rees-Jones, NCERT Program Coordinator, 3501 Civic Center Blvd Office 10200-11, Philadelphia, PA 19104. The deadline for applications is October 1.

Application requirements

  • CHOP application
  • Three (3) letters of reference (LORs)
  • Dean’s letter (AKA Medical School Performance Evaluation [MSPE])
  • Medical school transcript
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Personal statement
  • USMLE Parts 1, 2 (if available)
  • ECFMG Certification if a graduate of a medical school outside the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico
  • Visa documentation if not a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.

If you have any questions at any time during the application process, please contact Ashley Rees-Jones at 215-590-1722 or by email at reesjonesa@email.chop.edu.

Tobacco-free hiring policy

To help preserve and improve the health of our patients, their families and our employees, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a tobacco-free hiring policy. This policy applies to all candidates for employment (other than those with regularly scheduled hours in New Jersey) for all positions, including those covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Job applicants who apply after July 1, 2014 will be expected to sign an attestation stating they’ve been free of nicotine or tobacco products in any form for the prior thirty (30) days. They will also undergo a cotinine test as a part of the Occupational Health pre-placement drug screen administered after the offer of employment has been accepted but before the first day of hire.

Exemptions: Attending physicians (excluding CHOP physicians in the Care Network), psychologists, principal investigators and/or Penn-based faculty are exempt from this process to better align with our colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.