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Dr. George Lawry and Dr. Shaista Malik confer with members of UC Irvine's rheumatology fellowship program.

The Division of Rheumatology at UCI School of Medicine offers a highly competitive, two-year fellowship program that provides extensive clinical training in rheumatic and musculoskeletal disorders.

The aim of our program is to train fellows to be excellent Clinical Rheumatologists, prepared to treat both complex and bread and butter Rheumatology cases across a diverse patient population, while possessing habits of life-long learning to build upon their knowledge, skills and profession.

The specific goals of our training program are derived from the Mission Statement: 1) clinical competence, 2) capable of working in a variety of settings, and 3) a life-long learner. These specific goals are further amplified as follows:

At the completion of the rheumatology fellowship training, the fellow should have mastered the following specific objectives as they pertain to each of the specific goals of the curriculum:

  • Clinical competence in a variety of clinical settings:
    • All fellows should have mastered those specific clinical objectives for the majority of diseases seen in the practice of rheumatology, including uncommon and complicated diseases.
    • Demonstrate proficiency as a consultant and/or leader of a multidisciplinary health care team.
    • Possess communication skills that will allow the fellow to perform as the health care team leader with peers and professionals.
    • The clinical proficiency of the fellow will be mastered at a level where they not only demonstrate their proficiency, but are capable of teaching these skills to trainees at junior levels.
    • Qualities of professionalism and humanistic skills will be demonstrated at a level which serves as a model for trainees at a junior level.
    • All fellows should have mastered those specific research objectives outlined for the fellowship program and have produced sufficient research work to enable them to submit their work for peer-reviewed presentation, scientific meetings, manuscript submissions, or grant applications for research funding.
  • Life-long learning:
    • Fellows will demonstrate proficiency at attending and participating in conferences, and researching and delivering 3 grand round lectures a year.
    • Fellows will demonstrate mastery of teaching skills in their interaction with trainees in junior levels of training. This may include supervised teaching interactions with trainees such as junior-level fellows, residents, and medical students.

We are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

The program is based at UCI Medical Center, Orange County's only university medical center.

Educational Activities »

Division fellows receive in-depth clinical rheumatology experience in consultative hospital and outpatient care at the UCI Medical Center in Orange and its state-of-the-art UCI Douglas Hospital as well as at the VA Long Beach Health System. Fellows also train in pediatric rheumatology at CHOC Children's Hospital of Orange County.

Rheumatology fellows spend two-thirds of their time in clinical training and the remainder in research. Mentored research opportunities include basic science or clinical research as well as clinical trials. Fellows get exposure and education in Musculoskeletal Ultrasound and are encouraged to do the ACR USSONAR training course. Fellows are expected to present their work at regional or national Rheumatology meetings.

Didactic training includes:

  • Weekly Rheumatology Grand Rounds
  • Monthly journal club
  • Monthly case presentations
  • Musculoskeletal rheumatology-radiology conferences every two months
  • Ultrasound training

Moonlighting as a rheumatologist is not permitted.

Salary and Benefits »


The 2023-2024 annual salary scale for Rheumatology fellows is: 

  • First year fellow (PGY4) — $89,969 
  • Second year fellow (PGY5) — $93,241

Health & Benefits

Fellows receive full health benefits including medical, dental, and vision at no cost. These plans are designed to meet the needs of the fellows and their families.

Life insurance is provided at no additional cost to the fellow only.

Long-term disability insurance is offered at an additional cost through the University of California Regents.

Fellows also receive professional liability coverage for all activities that are part of the Rheumatology fellowship training programs.

Professional liability coverage for all activities that are part of the Rheumatology fellowship training program.

Vacation & Sick Time

Fellows receive 28 days of vacation, 12 sick days, and 8 weeks paid parental leave (per PGY year).

Fellow Union Benefits

Fellows and residents training at UCIMC are unionized.  Union benefits are valid strictly from July 1 to June 30 each year of training. Funding is not rolled over year to year.

Below are the union benefits that apply to Rheumatology Fellows: 

  • 2 White Coats provided for entire training, plus laundering of the white coats 
  • $120/month for UCIMC Cafeteria 
  • Up to $1,500 in reimbursements for Educational/Conference Fees 
  • Reimbirsement for CA Medical License during training 
  • Reimbursement for ACLS & BLS recertification during training 
  • Housing Stipend has been incorporated into salary
Eligibility and Application Process »

 UCI School of Medicine Statement on the ACGME-accredited Residency and Fellowship interview season

The UC Schools of Medicine have reached consensus agreement regarding the residency and fellowship interview season: All interviews must be held remotely, even if the candidate lives locally. This policy is in alignment with guidance provided by the Coalition for Physician Accountability, which is composed of key national medical educational stakeholders, such as the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), LCME, AAMC, AMA and the ACGME. 

The UCI School of Medicine is supportive of this approach, because we must take into consideration the safety and well-being of applicants, physical restrictions and financial barriers to travel, and shifting shelter-in-place orders. To promote an equitable selection process, all applicants should have the same interview experiences and opportunities to interact with the program’s faculty and residents. 

We accept applications through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), which is sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges. You can search for the University of California Irvine Rheumatology Fellowship Program by Accreditation ID: 1500521108. We also participate in the National Residents Matching Program (NRMP).

Fellowship candidates must have completed an ACGME-accredited Internal Medicine residency program.  Applicants also must have:

  • Board Certification or Board Eligibility by ABIM
  • MSPE or Dean’s Letter
  • Proof of medical school graduation (original diploma)
  • Proof of passing all three steps of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE) or
  • Proof of passing all three levels of the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination of the United States (COMLEX-USA)
  • 3 Current Letters of Recommendation (within the past 12 months), one from the program director
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship, permanent residency or a valid J-1 visa with ECFMG sponsorship
  • International Medical Graduates must have current ECFMG Certificate and ECFMG-issued J-1 Visa or proof of permanent resident status
  • Proof of current California medical license
    • Candidates must have a valid California medical license within 90 days of hire date in the fellowship program as required by CA state law. If you are not already licensed in the state of CA, contact the Medical Board of California as there are new requirements.
  • Proof of registration with the Selective Service or Status Information letter (MALE trainees only) is required and must be submitted to RHEUMfellowshipdocs@hs.uci.edu by the 2nd Friday in August.
    • Our training program includes the Tibor Rubin Veterans Affairs Medical Center as a participating site. To train or work at a Veterans Health Administration facility, all male trainees must provide evidence of registration in the Selective Service program or evidence of exempt status issued through a Status Information letter.
    • Male trainees must have registered with the Selective Service between the ages of 18-26 or meet the criteria for an exemption and have a “Status Information” letter issued by the Veterans Affairs' Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA).
    • Contact the Selective Service website to obtain evidence of registration or request for the Status Information Letter.
  • Submit all documents required by ERAS
  • All applications must be completed by the 2nd Friday in August

Thank you for your interest in our program and we look forward to meeting you!

Michael Cheng, DO
Fellowship Program Director

For more information about the Division of Rheumatology's fellowship program, please contact:

Lanette Guerrero
Fellowship Program Coordinator