Orthoptic Fellowship

Overview and mission

The Division of Ophthalmology at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is a comprehensive specialty pediatric practice, offering care for children with eye and vision problems. The Orthoptic Fellowship Program is a two-year program approved by the American Orthoptic Council.

Direct, hands-on training and close interactions with faculty occurs on a daily basis, with the fellow involved in all aspects of diagnostic and therapeutic clinical practice. The fellow will complete the Orthoptic Fellowship with more than 1,250 cases, including pediatric and adult strabismus. The fellow will also be prepared to enter the comprehensive subspecialty practice of pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus, including primary and tertiary diagnosis and management of the full spectrum of binocular vision disorders and pediatric and adult strabismus.

Fellowship training program director

Salvatore Bellante, CO
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology
3401 Civic Center Blvd.
9th floor, 9NW27
Philadelphia, PA 19104
215-590-2791
bellantes@email.chop.edu

About the fellowship

Orthoptists in the Division of Ophthalmology provide clinical care within the Children's Hospital system, and care for patients with both routine and complex conditions related to visual development, eye disease, birth defects and injury. In addition to amblyopia, strabismus, developmental eye and visual problems, subspecialty clinics are staffed by full-time faculty as well as consultants in pediatric oculoplastics, pediatric neuro-ophthalmology, pediatric retina, retinopathy of prematurity, craniofacial anomalies, ophthalmic genetics, and pediatric glaucoma. Adult strabismus clinics are operated in collaboration with the Scheie Eye Institute.

The Division of Ophthalmology provides comprehensive outpatient consultations, diagnostic testing, ambulatory surgery and follow-up care to more than 15,000 children annually, with approximately 1,500 surgical procedures performed per year. Clinical services available within the Division include orthoptics, aphakic contact lenses, electroretinography, visual evoked potential, ultrasonography, noninvasive functional visual testing, and complete ocular photography.

For children with complex or multiple medical conditions, our pediatric ophthalmologists collaborate with specialists in Genetics, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Neurology and Oncology, many of whom are noted by "Best Doctors in America" as tops in their field.

The Orthoptic Fellowship is part of a pediatric ophthalmology team that includes University of Pennsylvania ophthalmology residents and medical students, elective trainees from the Pediatrics Residency Program at Children's Hospital, orthoptists, ophthalmic technicians, and professional administrative staff. The clinical teaching environment is outstanding, with top training programs in all pediatric medical and surgical subspecialties as well as world-class clinical and basic research throughout the institution.

The Division of Ophthalmology is part of the Children’s Surgical Associates, a practice plan of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The division is academically affiliated with the Scheie Eye Institute/Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania and the Camden County Community College (CCC) on the Blackwood campus (the location for the classes of the orthoptic program). The providers in the Division of Ophthalmology see patients on the Main Campus of CHOP as well as several other satellite CHOP facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In addition to the Orthoptic Fellowship, the Division of Ophthalmology is accredited to accept two fellows in the Pediatric Ophthalmology Fellowship Program each year and one fellow in the Pediatric Oculoplastic Fellowship Program every other year. Medical students from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania rotate on an elective basis, and rotations are four weeks long. University of Pennsylvania Ophthalmology residents are required to rotate through the Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology at CHOP during each of their three years. Their rotations are five or 10 weeks in length.

Curriculum

In year one of two, the orthoptic students will be enrolled through the Ophthalmic Medical Technician Program at Camden County College. The students will perform one year of didactic training and classes. Classes at Camden County Community College are held on Friday and Saturday mornings. The students will spend Monday through Thursday at Children’s Hospital Philadelphia for clinical observation, lectures, studying and academic time.

In the second year, the orthoptic students will be provided time for research or project development of their choice. The number of hours necessary for research will be determined by the research director of the Division of Ophthalmology depending on the requirements of the project.

Orthoptic students are required to attend divisional grand rounds, journal club, and resident lectures. In addition, students work side by side with residents and fellows in the pediatric ophthalmology clinics.

Students must see a minimum of 1,250 motility patient prior to certification as required by the American Orthoptic Council. If the students are significantly behind on patient numbers, they will be required to extend their training time.

Hours of work

The orthoptic students are expected to train at the Main Campus in Philadelphia for no more than 40 hours per week, with the exception of days spent at Camden County College (CCC). These hours include clinic time and assigned activities. The students will function as an orthoptist-in-training under the direction and supervision of the certified orthoptists and the attending physicians.

The program will employ students in a part-time capacity that will not exceed 20 percent of the working hours. As part-time employees, students will function as ophthalmic technicians in the clinic under the supervision of attending physicians. Patients seen as an employee will not be included as part of the minimum requirements.

How to apply

The Division of Ophthalmology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will accept two students each year for the 24-month program. Eligible students must have an undergraduate bachelor’s degree before the beginning of the Orthoptic Fellowship. Preference will be given to students with a science background. Advanced standing students will be considered.

Candidate applications for the orthoptic program will be due March 30. All applications before the due date will be considered, and anything submitted past March 30 will be considered for the following academic year. The recruitment committee (which includes the orthoptic program director, medical director, orthoptists, and potentially the division chief and division manager) will review all applications and begin telephone interviews with candidates of interest. On-site interviews will then be offered to preferred candidates in the month of May.

The reviewing committee will make a determination of position fulfillment on or before July 1. Once the orthoptic students commits to the program, they will be responsible for enrolling in the Ophthalmic Medical Technician Program at Camden County College (CCC) before July 31.

Classes at CCC start at the beginning of September. Completion of the CCC program is mandatory even for certified ophthalmic technicians, unless the students do not have already the aforementioned program certificate taken at CCC.

The application to the program includes:

  • Application form
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official academic transcripts
  • Handwritten personal statement

The application form will be mailed directly to Salvatore Bellante, CO, Program Directory:

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology
3401 Civic Center Blvd.
9th floor, 9NW27
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Students will be required to undergo a background check, fingerprinting, drug testing, and occupational health clearance prior to starting the program. They will also must adhere to the requirements for proof of immunity to infectious diseases and receive required vaccines.

A Human Resources recruiter will conduct required reference check(s) or other verification of information provided by the applicant. Human Resources will manage all aspects of the student’s enrollment. All offers of employment or students enrollment are extended by Human Resources or designee and are contingent upon successful completion and satisfactory results of all pre-employment clearances, including, but not limited to, criminal background, sanction-based checks, reference checks, education verification, licensing/certification verification (if applicable), child abuse, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint-based clearances and pre-employment Occupational Health screenings.

Tuition

The tuition fees for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Orthoptic Fellowship is $5,000. These fees, made payable directly to CHOP’s Division of Ophthalmology, are due at the beginning of the year by August 15. Students will not be offered a refund if they withdraw after the payment of tuitions or if they’re dismissed from the program.

The students will also be responsible to apply to and pay the tuition and fees according to the deadlines of the program at Camden County Community College (CCC). Tuition, made payable directly to the College, may vary slightly year to year. For the 2018/19 academic year, tuition at Camden County College is about $4,950. The Division of Ophthalmology, CHOP and the Fellowship Program are not responsible of the CCC costs variations.

The students will be responsible for the CCC fees tuition fees, which will be paid separately. After the students complete the CCC application, they will be required to complete the payment to the Division of Ophthalmology. Total cost to the students for the two-year fellowship program will be $11,950. These costs are offset by fellowship stipend and salary earned as part-time technician.

Scholarships/travel grants

Students are strongly encouraged to apply to the organizations for funding. There are three options for student scholarships:

  • IJCAHPO (International Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology) offers a small scholarship for students each year.
  • FOREA (Foundation for Orthoptic Research and Education in America)
  • The Division of Ophthalmology at CHOP may provide a $1,200 scholarship at the end of each academic year if the students have proved a fulfillment competition of the academic year, tests and exams. To obtain the scholarship, the students are required to pass all the evaluations, tests and exams with a minimum score of 80 percent.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact:

Christine Cabello
Academic Coordinator
Division of Ophthalmology
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
215-590-4591
cabelloc@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.