The current state of training in pain medicine fellowships: An Association of Pain Program Directors (APPD) survey of program directors

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Pain Pract


INTRODUCTION: The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) approved the first pain medicine fellowship programs over three decades ago, designed around a pharmacological philosophy. Following that, there has been a rise in the transition of pain medicine education toward a multidisciplinary interventional model based on a tremendous surge of contemporaneous literature in these areas. This trend has created variability in clinical experience and education amongst accredited pain medicine programs with minimal literature evaluating the differences and commonalities in education and experience of different pain medicine fellowships through Program Director (PD) experiences. This study aims to gather insight from pain medicine fellowship program directors across the country to assess clinical and interventional training, providing valuable perspectives on the future of pain medicine education.

METHODS: This study involved 56 PDs of ACGME-accredited pain fellowship programs in the United States. The recruitment process included three phases: advanced notification, invitation, and follow-up to maximize response rate. Participants completed a standard online questionnaire, covering various topics such as subcategory fields, online platforms for supplemental education, clinical experience, postgraduate practice success, and training adequacy.

RESULTS: Surveys were completed by 39/56 (69%) standing members of the Association of Pain Program Directors (APPD). All PDs allowed fellows to participate in industry-related and professional society-related procedural workshops, with 59% encouraging these workshops. PDs emphasized the importance of integrity, professionalism, and diligence for long-term success. Fifty-four percent of PDs expressed the need for extension of fellowship training to avoid supplemental education by industry or pain/spine societies.

CONCLUSION: This study highlights the challenge of providing adequate training in all Pain Medicine subtopics within a 12-month pain medicine fellowship. PDs suggest the need for additional training for fellows and discuss the importance of curriculum standardization.

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print