logo Click here for the Department of Medicine Home Page Click here for the UC Irvine Home Page Click here for the School of Medicine Home Page

Fellowship Program

The Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship at UC Irvine's School of Medicine is a fully accredited three-year program designed to train clinicians to deliver high-quality, skilled care to patients.

Our highly competitive program, run by leading interventional pulmonologists, provides selected fellows with clinical and research career opportunities in academic pulmonary and critical care medicine in such areas as:

  • Advanced lung diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and interstitial lung disease
  • Bioengineering and informatics, optics and laser-tissue interactions
  • Critical care medicine
  • Critical care ultrasound
  • Pleural diseases
  • Thoracic oncology, encompassing early detection, diagnosis, treatment and interventional curative and palliative care as well as end-of-life issues.

The combined pulmonary and critical care fellowship is designed for physicians who have completed at least three years of internal medicine training (including an internship) at a hospital recognized by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Fellows also must have a California medical license before beginning their training.

The Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine (PCCM) has graduated nearly 100 fellows over the last 30 years. Many of our fellows have been chief residents at other institutions. Nine full-time fellows are enrolled in our combined pulmonary-critical care medicine program, which is based on the principle of graduated responsibility as trainees learn through a variety of clinical, research and teaching experiences.

In addition to assuring competency and proficiency in medical care, our goal is to help fellows achieve independence and confidence in all clinical, academic and educational endeavors. The strong technology and basic science environment at the UC Irvine School of Medicine fosters a setting where individual skills and talents are nurtured.

Educational Objectives and Training »

PCCM Fellows have both consultative and intensive care unit responsibilities as they rotate through various clinical environments at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, the VA Long Beach Health System and Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

Fellows initiate and supervise consultative and procedural practices under the guidance of our dedicated faculty, allowing them to emerge from the program with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic respiratory and critical care illnesses. Because our program also stresses a multidisciplinary approach to a wide variety of pulmonary and critical disorders, trainees also enhance their communication skills and their ability to interact effectively with patients and other healthcare providers in culturally rich and diverse environments.

The fellowship program is geared towards clinical excellence, yet fellows also acquire some experience with clinical or basic research. Selected fellows will focus on building a foundation for pursuing an academic career in pulmonary and critical care medicine. Within this model, fellows have independence and guidance and both clinical and research rotations are tailored to fit the needs and expectations of the individual trainee.

Specific objectives of the fellowship program are:

  • To provide a solid educational experience in general pulmonary and critical care medicine (PCCM) that will prepare physicians to reliably and competently serve their communities.
  • To provide medical students, residents and ancillary health care providers with tools needed to diagnosis, treat and prevent pulmonary and critical care illnesses. A major component of this objective is met through participation in educational endeavors such as lectures, in-services and proactive communication.
  • To enhance the education and understanding of simple and complex pulmonary and critical care issues by the general public in the context of cultural diversity. Clinical settings provide opportunities to interact with patients from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. We believe that cultural diversity among our medical staff and patients enhances the educational process, opening the minds of our fellows to cultural differences and service-oriented practices.

Learning occurs through one-on-one interactions with our faculty, as well as through a combination of formal teaching rounds, didactic lectures, mentorship and graduated responsibility. Trainees are exposed to a variety of lung disorders, providing fellows with a broad spectrum of clinical experience that prepares them for board certification in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

Fellows function as consultants and as subspecialist physicians directing (under supervision) the management of patients with lung and lung-related disorders during rotations in both inpatient and outpatient clinical settings.

Research and Clinical Tracks »

Another goal of the PCCM fellowship is to prepare selected trainees for a career in academic medicine. Trainees interested in pursuing an academic career are mentored by faculty and have more research rotations than their clinical counterparts. Future clinicians, although exposed to research techniques and theory, will have greater opportunities to increase their diagnostic and procedural skills through increased patient-care rotations.

To achieve this, two tracks are incorporated into the combined PCCM fellowship program. Fellows are expected to identify their career interests during recruitment and during the initial months of the fellowship. Tracking decisions also are based on availability and funding. Examples of active research areas include:

  • Antioxidants, sepsis and critical illness
  • Computer-based education, information technology and virtual reality
  • Dietary supplementation
  • Lung cancer growth and prevention
  • Imaging technologies such as optical coherence tomography and laser-tissue interfaces (in concert with multidisciplinary activities at the Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic)
  • Laser-tissue interactions and the effects of novel therapeutic bronchoscopic and pleural modalities
  • Mathematical airway modeling
  • Mechanical ventilation and control of breathing
  • Pharmaceutical clinical trials
  • Pleural inflammation processes and pleural carcinomatosis
  • Quality of life and end-of-life issues
  • Critical care-based bedside ultrasound
  • Diaphragm physiology and pathophysiology in respiratory failure
  • Interventional pulmonary medicine

Rotations are structured to give fellows laddered responsibility with a large degree of independence. Clinical duties encompass work on the wards, in intensive care units, in pulmonary function laboratories, in procedure services and in outpatient management through our Pulmonary Practice Group.

Fellows learn about pulmonary physiology, thoracic oncology, pulmonary hypertension, interstitial lung disorders, occupational lung health and complex airway and pleural disease management, as well as all aspects of critical care medicine. Close cooperation with the School of Medicine's Hospitalist Program and other medical and surgical specialties is encouraged.

During rotations at the medical center in Orange, fellows devote several months to the pulmonary diagnostics and procedures service. They also are exposed to all aspects of interventional pulmonology, including laser resection, airway stent insertion, photodynamic therapy, pleural ultrasonography, medical and surgical thoracoscopy, chest tube insertion, autoflourescence bronchoscopy and all aspects of flexible/rigid bronchoscopy and cancer care.

Bronchoscopy theory is mastered through independent study and guided web-based education using the Essential Bronchoscopist© and Bronch Atlas©. Technical skills are improved through supervised and independent practice in our airway management facility, which includes computer-based simulation, virtual reality laboratories and inanimate models.

Our goal is to enable fellows on the research track to become successful, productive academic pulmonary physician-scientists. Research efforts may be devoted to clinical, basic cellular, basic molecular or bioengineering research. To achieve these goals, fellows identify a research mentor during the first months of their fellowship and begin planning projects to be developed in subsequent training years.

Fellows will be guided into areas that are within the scope and strengths of our division. The major focus of the division is design, development and dissemination of novel technologies. Fellows on a research track are expected to have at least one year of research during their three-year fellowship, to be able to compete for individual funding during their second year and to benefit from such funding in a fourth year of fellowship, during which they are expected to serve as instructors in the Department of Medicine.

It is expected, therefore, that fellows will:

  • Become capable of writing research grants
  • Become familiar with regulatory compliance issues, including the National Institutes of Health's animal and human protocols appropriate for their areas of research 
  • Compete for funding on a local and national level.

As early as possible, fellows should write a summary of career and training objectives, as well as a brief research plan describing the hypothesis, the general and specific aims of the investigation and the methodology to be used under faculty guidance.

We believe it is essential for fellows planning a career in clinical pulmonary and critical care medicine to understand many fundamental aspects of clinical and basic research. Multiple opportunities exist for fellows to participate in clinical trials, retrospective and prospective clinical investigations, case reports, and research-education activities. In addition, fellows may devote energies to assisting with basic laboratory activities.

The major emphasis for fellows on the clinical track is excellence in clinical medicine. Research activities should assist them in developing skills necessary for patient care, including use of evidence-based medicine, knowledge about hypothesis-driven research methodologies, integration of new technology, imaging studies, and clinical and research derived information into patient care plans, as well as outcomes analysis. All fellows are encouraged to present their data at local, national or international forums and to serve as educators through lectures and conferences of medical students and ancillary healthcare providers.

Clinical track fellows have four to eight months of research exposure to learn problem-solving concepts, study design and implementation, data collection and analysis, drawing conclusions, study limitations and alternative approaches. Most important, they learn to critically apply this knowledge to other areas of pulmonary medicine and literature review.

Educational Activities »

Regular conferences are held at UC Irvine Medical Center and at the VA in Long Beach. They include:

  • Core lecture series in pulmonary medicine
  • Fellow lecture series
  • Grand rounds
  • Multidisciplinary chest conference
  • Critical care conference
  • Journal club
  • Tuberculosis case conference
Salary and Benefits »

The annual salary scale for Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine fellows is:

  • First year — $57,590
  • Second year — $59,783
  • Third year — $61,971

The university provides a fully paid comprehensive insurance benefits package for you and your dependents that includes health, dental and vision care. Also provided is life insurance (with minimum fellow-paid premium contribution towards benefit costs) and long-term disability insurance (with minimum fellow-paid premium contribution towards benefit costs).

Professional liability coverage is provided for all training components of the PCCM Fellowship program.

Application Process »

The Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine participates in the National Residency Match Program (NRMP) and the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Applicants may register for NRMP online. For more information on the fellowship application process, contact the ERAS Fellowship Documents Office online or at 215-966-3940.

Please submit the following supporting documents to ERAS:

  • Dean's Letter, transcripts and Doctor of Medicine Certificate (diploma) from medical school. (The original certificate must be brought to the interview.)
  • Three letters of reference (one from the residency program director)
  • USMLE step scores 1 and 2 are required; Step 3 must be scheduled
  • CV and a personal statement

International medical school graduates must provide a copy of their visa. Those with permanent residency status or a J-1 visa must provide a current certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.

We thank you for your interest in our fellowship program.

Richard Lee, MD
Division Chief

Matthew Brenner, MD
Fellowship Program Director

For more information, contact:

Jillian Meltebarger
Fellowship Coordinator   
Phone: 714-456-5413  
Email: jmelteba@uci.edu