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Meet Our Fellows

Mayo Clinic Spine Surgery fellows and faculty foster a collegial environment and education-focused culture that provides an inclusive learning experience. Training can be challenging, but our program is close-knit and each fellow brings a dedication to providing stellar patient care as well as a collaborative learning experience.

Sonal Sodha, M.D.

Sonal Sodha, M.D.

Hometown: Potomac, MD
Medical school: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Residency: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

I knew that this fellowship would be a great fit for me. The faculty members are genuinely invested in our success and our well-being. The program emphasizes the importance of both the surgical decision-making and the technical skills of the operation without losing sight of the needs of the patient. In addition, I feel that we are continuously encouraged to challenge and push ourselves while honing our skills. I am confident that with the breadth of exposure at Mayo, I will enter practice as a skilled, safe, and well-prepared surgeon. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to train here and experience tremendous growth as a spine surgeon with the guidance and mentorship of such exceptional faculty.

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Erick Kazarian, M.D.

Erick Kazarian, M.D.

Hometown: Worcester, MA
Medical school: University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI
Residency: Harvard Combined Orthopedic Residency, Boston, MA

The Spine Surgery Fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, offers a balanced exposure to complex and degenerative spine conditions with great mentors and autonomy. The surgical training has been excellent and the case diversity is perfect for training with a good volume of both bread-and-butter degenerative spine cases as well as more complex revision and deformity work. The graduated surgical autonomy is also excellent and will enable you to confidently start your career with the skills to pursue any job you may want, private or academic.

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Steven Girdler, M.D.

Steven Girdler, M.D.

Medical school: Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Residency: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic? At Mayo Clinic there is an unparalleled ability to collaborate with physicians of the highest quality. This excellence extends not only into the orthopedic department and the spine department but into all specialties. Being able to train at a place where collaboration and mentorship can come from the highest level has been invaluable.

What stood out to you about this program? The spine surgery fellowship combines the personalized training of a mentorship model with the ability to float to multiple surgeons for most of the year. The diversity of case experience is extremely broad including everything from bread-and-butter degenerative spine surgery to the highest of complexity cases including revision and deformity spine surgery. We have learned techniques including freehand pedicle screw placement, minimally invasive techniques, occipital to pelvis instrumentation, osteotomies, and used advanced technology like navigation as appropriate.  In all of these, the expectation is for a high level of surgical autonomy from the fellow, even at the beginning of the fellowship year. This has been a great operative experience, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to others considering the program!

How has your experience been in this program? Great! There is excellent mentorship from the attendings in clinic and the OR. Excellent departmental support for research. A collaborative environment with all staff members and residents. The attending surgeons are highly invested in the fellows, dedicated to teaching and to your success as a surgeon and in life.  It has been an amazing experience!

What do you like about living in Rochester? Rochester is a great place, especially for those with a family.  Every weekend there have been multiple community events geared towards children, which my kids have loved. We also enjoy the many parks, lakes, and golf courses around the area.  We’ve gotten involved with a local gym and play tennis there regularly. There are also some great restaurants!

Matt Lindsey, M.D.

Medical school: Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Residency: Harvard Combined Orthopedic Residency Program

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic? When I interviewed here, I felt at home. I thought the reputation of the hospital would make it feel pretentious and stuffy, but I was pleasantly surprised that it is quite the opposite. The people here are warm, approachable, and inviting. The excellence in quality of care is evident, but beneath that is a comfortable environment for learning.

What stood out to you about this program? The spine fellowship has breadth and depth. The cases vary from common procedures to cases that are highly complex and exciting. There is a lot of work to do, so you get a deep exposure to both routine indications and cutting-edge procedures. Each consultant approaches the problem in a slightly different way, and yet they all work together in harmony. That variety allows for learning a diverse set of skills. Furthermore, the program has aspects of both a mentorship model as well as a float learning style.

How has your experience been in this program? Terrific. I have found support for all of my interests. There are excellent resources for research interests. The faculty are available, approachable, and dedicated to teaching. The program is dedicated to fellow experience and even in the short time here, I have found it to be adaptable to my specific needs. The OR experience is excellent, and independence is appropriate for any level of skill.

What do you like about living in Rochester? It’s easy to live here. I have a family and they fit right in. There is a lot of support for families, there are great parks and lots of outdoor activities. There’s little to no traffic, and everything in town is pretty close. I spend way less time in the car and way more at home than I did in residency. We’ve found lots of restaurants and activities, and the cost of living here is quite affordable.