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Welcome from the Program Director

Paul Shea, MD
Paul Shea, MD, Fellowship Program Director

We are happy that you are exploring a fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at UNC.

Our fellows are hard-working individuals who are deeply committed to providing excellent care to the children and families of North Carolina. As the state hospital of North Carolina, we take care of all children in the state no matter their ability to pay. Because of that, our fellows care for children from all over the state spanning all cultural, lifestyle and socioeconomic backgrounds. We are also committed to improving the care of critically ill children by advancing research, quality improvement and education.

As a free-standing children’s hospital, we can collaborate with our pediatric colleagues to improve the care of all the children who enter our doors. We are also adjacent and adjoined to the broader UNC hospital system and the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing, which allows our fellows to collaborate across all forms of medicine, research and education. This environment provides fellows with a broad range of experiences and prepares them for practice in diverse settings upon graduation.

We have faculty within our division with expertise and current research in global health, quality improvement, medical education including simulation modalities, and clinical and translational research. Our faculty are involved in national research collaboratives including ACSEND, PICU-UP, and overcoming COVID. These resources enhance our trainees’ scholarly projects and provide a platform for independent research.

UNC offers a broad range of experiences in global health clinical care and research, as well as didactic activities covering myriad topics in the School of Medicine, School of Public Health, and others. Please consider visiting the Department of Pediatrics Global Health page.

Patient safety and quality care is paramount to what we do in the PICU. Our chief, Benny Joyner, is the Vice Chair of Quality and Patient Safety and brings this focus into all we do in the ICU. Our fellows are actively involved in QI projects and education as well as MM&I conferences throughout the Children’s Hospital. Please consider visiting the Department of Pediatrics Quality and Safety page.

Finally, Chapel Hill, the Triangle and North Carolina is an amazing place to live.


We are committed to the values and principles expressed by the UNC School of Medicine’s “Statement on Equity and Inclusion.

The Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of the premier multidisciplinary training programs in the Southeast. Our Fellowship is a three-year program accredited by the American Board of Pediatrics. The fellowship is designed to provide excellent educational opportunities, clinical training in all aspects of critical care, and strong research opportunities in both basic and clinical research, as well as quality improvement and medical education.

About half of the three-year fellowship is spent in clinical training and half is spent on research. The first year of the fellowship places emphasis on clinical practice with specialized training rotations in pediatric anesthesia and pediatric pain. The second year is focused on research and growing clinical leadership responsibilities, while the final year is flexible and designed to provide individuals with clinical, research and educational opportunities to meet their educational and training needs.

The primary clinical training takes place in a 20 bed unit which includes both a multi-disciplinary PICU and PCICU (Pediatric Cardiac ICU) located in UNC Children’s Hospital on the UNC Medical Campus in Chapel Hill, NC. The UNC Children’s Hospital is the only Level 1 pediatric trauma center in the region and has the only pediatric burn center and pediatric airway center in the state, providing fellows with unique patient populations and training opportunities.

Why Choose UNC?

  • The UNC PICU offers a mixed closed unit caring for cardiac, burn, surgical and medical patients with very high acuity. The PICU does all the mechanical support in the children’s hospital (ECMO, CRRT, VAD etc.) and cares for transplant patients from heart to liver to lung to kidney.
  • Highly engaged physician and nurse practitioner faculty are very active in training fellows clinically and working one-on-one with fellows on scholarly activities.
  • We offer a wide array of opportunities for scholarly activity.
  • We offer highly individualized educational, QI and research experiences tailored to help each fellow reach their career goals.
  • UNC School of Medicine and UNC Pediatrics are committed to diversity and inclusion.
  • Chapel Hill is a GREAT city and North Carolina is a GREAT state in which to live!
Clinical Opportunities
The PICU is a state-of-the-art facility featuring private rooms for all patients, isolation rooms, and ample family support areas. It functions as a closed unit and uses nearly all forms of advanced life support technologies. The patients are separated into two-physician teams: PICU and PCICU (Pediatric Cardiac ICU). Our fellows rotate and lead both teams throughout their clinical training. The PCICU team is composed of PCICU faculty, PICU fellows, Cardiologists, Cardiothoracic Surgeons, Advanced Practice Providers.

The PICU has an active extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program with new state-of-the-art equipment that provides support for a wide variety of critical conditions in neonates and pediatric patients. Designed to be multi-disciplinary, the team in the PICU also includes dedicated pediatric respiratory therapists, pediatric pharmacists, pediatric dietitians, child recreation therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and social work. The close-knit relationship between the pediatric nursing and physician staff is consistently rated as excellent.

Fellows are directly involved in all aspects of clinical management and decision-making for PICU and PCICU patients. They also provide direct supervision and education to fourth year medical students and residents from pediatrics, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, as well as other departments.

Research Opportunities

The UNC Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Fellowship is designed to provide the best possible research opportunities for fellows. Recognizing the individual nature of each fellow, we have tailored several programs to achieve the goals defined by the individual fellow.

Critical care fellows are given extensive research opportunities in both clinical research and basic science research, as well as quality improvement and medical education with strongly protected research time.

In the first year, fellows are encouraged to participate in a clinical research project and are introduced to the diverse research opportunities within and outside of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. In the second and third years, extensive protected time is provided so that each fellow can complete their research requirements. Education and review sessions occur at least monthly and provide the fellows with a significant amount of opportunity for review.

The major focus of the research experience is to learn how to design a hypothesis-driven research project, acquire the necessary technical skills to test the hypothesis, analyze the data and present the work.

Each fellow’s research is developed and monitored by a Scholarly Oversight Committee comprised of at least three faculty with at least one PCCM faculty and other members with content specific expertise. All fellows’ research is expected to result in a first author peer reviewed manuscript in a high-quality medical journal.

At UNC, the PCCM Fellowship’s broad clinical training is heavily supplemented with an academic education curriculum that includes a mix of didactic and simulation-based learning. The didactic program includes multidisciplinary conferences with our neurosurgery, burn surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, pulmonary, nephrology, neurology, and pediatric general surgery colleagues. In addition, the core PCCM curriculum involves a recurring lecture series designed to cover core PCCM topics over a 12-month period including lessons on pathophysiology, evidence-based medicine, and new and upcoming therapies. The simulation training involves high-fidelity simulators to cover a range of topics from skills training to crisis management to difficult conversations at the bedside.

The PCCM Fellows at UNC also participate in a biannual ECMO/VAD course, an annual Ultrasound course, as well as a regional boot camp at the start of fellowship followed by a regional boot camp for senior fellows.

In addition to the conferences listed below, fellows are also mentored by PCCM faculty in delivering the core lecture series to residents rotating in the PICU and in facilitating simulation training. These experiences combine to provide a solid foundation to an academic career.

12:00pm PCCM Fellow Core Curriculum

  1. 1st Journal Club (alternates in 3s- sentinel article review, round table discussion of recent publications, EBM)
  2. 2nd White Board Sessions
  3. 3rd Ethics
  4. 4th Multicenter PICU education collaborative – a joint educational series between 5 PCCM fellowships on the east coast

2:30pm PCICU M&M (once a month)
3:30pm Cardiac Cath Conference

12:00pm PCCM Fellow Core Curriculum

  1. 1st Cardiac Lectures
  2. 3rd Simulation
  3. Remaining Tuesdays Core Lectures

3:00pm PICU M&M (once a month)

12:00pm PCCM Fellow Core Curriculum

  1. 1st Fellow Meeting with Program Director and Associate Program Director
  2. 2nd Case Conference
  3. 3rd Pediatric Schwartz Rounds
  4. 4th Board Review
  5. Quarterly Pro-Con Debates

12:00pm Pediatric Schwartz Rounds (once a month)

8:00am Pediatrics Grand Rounds
2:30pm PCCM Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Conference (once a month)

4:00pm ECMO Quality Review (once a month)


The Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Faculty is actively involved in medical education across the hospital. The faculty and fellows support the Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Interest Group for Residents (PIG) with regularly scheduled events to discuss career choices, journal clubs and other information relevant to the field of critical care medicine.

Academy of Educators

One of the many uniquely valuable – and popular – educational options for fellows is the opportunity to join and participate as an educational leader in the “UNC Academy of Educators.”
This robust, formal education training curriculum is designed to emphasize teaching excellence in faculty and fellows, while promoting curricular innovation. Participants enjoy many types of opportunities for peer-to-peer leadership and teaching, and additional networking opportunities.

There are currently over 380 Faculty, Fellow and Resident members participating in the UNC Academy of Educators program.

The Academy offers numerous academic program components as well as four core committees:

• Scholarship
• Programming
• Awards
• Membership

UNC has pioneered a 360 degree evaluation methodology. Using this approach, the fellow is evaluated by attending physicians, nurses and themselves twice a year. These evaluations incorporate all aspects of the fellows training including: Clinical, Research, Education, Interpersonal and Administrative functions focusing on the core competencies. The Fellowship Director discusses the evaluation with each fellow, providing them with formal feedback.

In addition, the fellows evaluate the faculty and the program biannually to allow for continued advancement and improvement in the PCCM Fellowship.


The Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine in UNC’s Department of Pediatrics is comprised of thirteen faculty members with board certification in pediatric critical care, with additional faculty dual boarded in pediatric cardiology.

Current Fellows

Fellowship Alumni

Year Alumni Career
2022 LeeAnne Flygt, MD Pediatric Intensivist
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
2022 Jeremy Sites, MD Pediatric Intensivist
University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
2021 Dennis Leung, MD Pediatric Neurocritical Care Fellow
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
2020 Katie Clouthier, DO Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Fellowship
Stanford University, San Jose, CA
2020 Shannon Solt, DO Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Fellowship
Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, TX
2019 Michelle Gombas, DO Pediatric Intensivist
Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, Indianapolis, IN
2019 Mousumee Shah, MD Pediatric Intensivist
Dayton Children’s Hospital, Dayton, OH
2018 Melissa Crowder, MD Pediatric Intensivist
Ochsner Hospital for Children, New Orleans, LA
2018 Melissa Smith, MD Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Anesthesiology
UNC Children’s Hospital, Chapel Hill, NC”
2017 Mark Dexter, MD Assistant Professor and Pediatric Intensivist
Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
2017 Daniel Lercher, MD Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Anesthesiology, Co-Medical Director UNC AirCare
UNC Children’s Hospital, Chapel Hill, NC
2016 Melissa Hines-Thomas, MD Assistant Member, Pediatric Critical Care
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
2015 Margaret Kihlstrom, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Anesthesiology, UNC Pediatric Residency Program Director
UNC Children’s Hospital, Chapel Hill, NC
2015 J Rob Lovrich, MD Medical Director of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage, AK
2014 Christina Lopez, DO Pediatric Intensivist
Bristol Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at RWJUH, New Brunswick, NJ
2012 Laura Czulada, DO Pediatric Critical Care Physician
Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital, Brooklyn, NY
2012 Ivy Pointer, MD Pediatric Hospitalist
Wake Med, Raleigh, NC
2012 Nina Verdina, MD Primary Care Pediatrician
Growing Child Pediatrics (Duke Health System), Knightdale, NC

Application Guidelines

If the clinical, educational and research opportunities available through our division interest you, we are happy to receive and consider your application.

All applications are handled through the ERAS system.

Interviews are scheduled from August through the fall prior to the AAMC Match

Application package required:
• Current CV
• Personal statement
• 3 letters of recommendation

Contact Information

Contact information for the fellowship program of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, UNC School of Medicine.


Paul Shea, MD
Fellowship Program Director


Stephanie Schwartz, MD
Associate Program Director


Amy Spruance
Fellowship Program Coordinator


Pediatric Subspecialty Program Coordinator

Mailing Address:

Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
417 MacNider Hall
CB# 7221
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7221
(919) 966-7495