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.

The history, expertise and compassion that make Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia unique are also what makes it the best place for medical trainees.

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

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 36,000 children annually, with approximately 3,400 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, Reconstructive and Oral 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. 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.


The students will perform one year of didactic training and classes. The students will spend Monday through Friday 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. 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.

Candidate applications for the orthoptic program will be due February 28. All applications before the due date will be considered, and anything submitted past February 28 will be considered for the following academic year. Late applications may be considered depending on interview volume and applicant pool. 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 virtual interviews with candidates of interest. Final interviews (on-site or virtual) 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.

The application to the program includes:

  • Application form
  • Three Official letters of recommendation sent directly by who is providing the reference (and not the candidate)
  • Official academic transcripts
  • Handwritten personal statement

The application form, CV, personal statement, recommendations and transcripts (if applicable) will be emailed to OPHfellowships@chop.edu

If transcripts are not available electronically, they can be sent directly from the academic institutions to Salvatore Bellante, CO, Program Director:

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology
3500 Civic Center Blvd.
11th floor, Burger Building 11534
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.


The tuition fees for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Orthoptic Fellowship are $5,000. An initial deposit of $500 (10%) is due within 5 business days upon acceptance of the fellowship offer, made payable directly to CHOP’s Division of Ophthalmology. The remaining $4.500, shall be made payable by the first day of the fellowship. Students will not be offered a refund if they withdraw after the payment of tuitions or if they’re dismissed from the program.

Scholarships/travel grants

Students are strongly encouraged to apply to the organizations for funding. There are two 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)

Please note we do not offer student/working visas. All costs for visa’s are paid by the applicant. They should be obtained prior to starting the program and should be valid until the end of the fellowship program.

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

Christine Cabello
Academic Coordinator
Division of Ophthalmology
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Other requirements

To carry out its mission, it is of critical importance for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to keep our patients, families and workforce safe and healthy and to support the health of our global community. In keeping with this, CHOP has mandated all workforce members (including trainees) on site at any CHOP location for any portion of their time be vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition of employment.

This mandate also applies to workforce members or trainees performing work for CHOP at non-CHOP locations. Additionally, all workforce members based in or regularly scheduled to work at any New Jersey location are mandated to be both vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19, with booster timing consistent with applicable guidelines. The CHOP COVID-19 vaccine mandate is in alignment with applicable local, state and federal mandates. CHOP also requires all workforce members and trainees who work in patient care buildings or who provide patient care to receive an annual influenza vaccine. Employees may request exemption consideration for CHOP vaccine requirements for valid religious and medical reasons. Please note start dates may be delayed until candidates are fully immunized or valid exemption requests are reviewed. In addition, candidates other than those in positions with regularly scheduled hours in New Jersey, must attest to not using tobacco products.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, protected veteran status or any other protected category. CHOP is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor seeking priority referrals for protected veterans.

CHOP is committed to building an inclusive culture where employees feel a sense of belonging, connection, and community within their workplace. We are a team dedicated to fostering an environment that allows for all to be their authentic selves. We are focused on attracting, cultivating, and retaining diverse talent who can help us deliver on our mission to be a world leader in the advancement of healthcare for children.

We strongly encourage all candidates of diverse backgrounds and lived experiences to apply.

Next Steps