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Surgical Critical Care Fellowship Program

aerial photo VCU Medical Center

About the Program:

VCU Health System (VCUHS) is Central Virginia’s only Level I Trauma Center for adult and pediatric patients. The Surgical Trauma ICU (STICU) has 25 beds in addition to neurosurgical, cardiac surgery, and burn critical care units. Our annual trauma admissions total 3500 and ED visits at 90,000.

Fellows will spend most of their year in the STICU, where they will master the care of critically-ill trauma, burn, and surgery patients. They are expected to participate in and eventually lead daily teaching rounds and perform bedside procedures such as tracheostomies, PEGs, and chest tubes. Fellows will learn the use of echocardiography and point of care ultrasound for fluid status management and graduate proficient in advanced critical care ultrasound. 

Fellows take trauma call once a week in the second half of their fellowship year. During this call, fellows manage all trauma activations including operative interventions. An attending trauma surgeon is in house during this call as backup and to provide oversight and education.

Additional educational opportunities include: 

  • Weekly trauma conference and M&M 
  • Weekly International Trauma Grand Rounds with the Panamerican Trauma Society 
  • Elective rotations in burn, anesthesia, or medical ICU
  • Involvement in the education of pre-hospital personnel and students
  • Certification as instructors for Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)
  • Certification in Advanced Surgical Skills for Exposure in Trauma (ASSET)
  • Participation in Stop-the-Bleed training

The Fellowship Program also provides opportunities for international collaboration with other trauma-related professionals through it's active partnership with the Panamerican Trauma Society.

In this video, Dr. Rao Ivatury, Professor Emeritus, discusses Panamerican Trauma Society and the benefits of a fellowship education in a Level 1 Trauma Center.


While the focus of the fellowship is clinical, fellows will complete at least one research or quality improvement project, attend the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma’s (EAST) annual conference, and VCU Health Rao Ivatury Trauma Symposium


Our mission is to train the future leaders in trauma, critical care and emergency surgery while providing clinical excellence. Our fellowship is constructed to enhance an understanding of trauma and critical care as a global disease, and to provide the fellow with opportunities for professional advancement in the areas of international research, training, and education.

In the video below, Program Director Dr. Ferrada discusses the benefits of international collaborations in academic surgery.


VCU Health, MCV Campus

MCV Hospitals, the teaching hospital component of VCU Health, is the region's only Level I Trauma Center. It has 25 Surgical Trauma ICU beds and separate neurosurgical, cardiac surgery and burn critical care units. Fellowship procedures consist of the following: general surgical (60%), trauma (40%), blunt trauma (65%), and penetrating trauma (25%).

As part of Virginia Commonwealth University—a Carnegie Foundation Level I Research University—VCU Health boasts major programs in cardiac, solid organ transplant, neurosurgery, and women's health. The Evans-Haynes Burn Center was the first civilian burn unit in the country and remains the only such facility in the state.

In addition, VCU Health Trauma Center's community outreach includes the annual “Shining Knight Gala” — a benefit to acknowledge and honor those who save lives in Central Virginia.


Welcome to RVA, named "Best River Town in America" by Outside magazine. Richmond combines the amenities of a major metropolitan area with the charm and convenience of a small historic city. With the Blue Ridge Mountains, Washington, DC, and Virginia Beach a day trip away, you'll find just about everything you need in a city environment. LEARN MORE


> SAFAS ONLINE Application

Documents Required to Apply:

  1. Picture
  2. 3 original letters of recommendation.
    One must be dated within the past year.
    — If currently in program must have one from current program director.
  3. Medical school diploma (certified copy)
  4. Medical school transcript (certified copy)
  5. Current CV
  6. Personal Statement

Interview Process:

Applications will be reviewed only after receipt of all required materials.

The deadline for scheduling interviews is August 15 of each academic year.

The fellowship uses the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) to fill the available slots. THE APPLICATION PROCESS IS OPEN FEBRUARY TO AUGUST OF EACH YEAR.

Please direct all inquiries regarding the fellowship application to:

Jennifer Quinney
Fellowship Coordinator


The education of our Fellows and Residents is always our priority. We have built a very detailed curriculum. These efforts have resulted in a 100% pass-rate for the American Board of Surgery, Surgical Critical Care Certifying Exam for the past eight years.

For Fellowship educational materials please visit:

Critical Care Fellowship Intranet (eID password)


Program Director, Assistant Director:

Primary Appointments in Surgery:

Primary Appointment in Emergency Medicine:

Primary Appointments in Anesthesia:

Fellowship Alumni:

  • Mark Blum, MD (2017): Lifebridge Health, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

  • Ashanthi Ratnasekera, MD (2017): Corzer-Keystone Health Network, Philadelphia, PA

  • Molly Flannagan, MD (2016): Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH

  • Aditi Kapil, MD (2016): Baystate Health, Springfield, MA


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Paula Ferrada, MD
Paula Ferrada, MD, FACS
Program Director, Surgical Critical Care Fellowship Program

Stefan Leichtle, MD Assistant Program Director, VCU Health Critical Care Fellowship
Stefan Leichtle, MD, FACS
Assistant Program Director, Surgical Critical Care Fellowship

Fellowship Coordinator:
Jennifer Quinney



Delivery Address:
West Hospital
15th Floor, East Wing
1200 E. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23298
VCU maps

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 980454
Richmond, VA 23298-0454

Phone: (804) 828-7748
Fax: (804) 827-0701


Roberto Castillo, MD
Critical Care Fellow
(PGY-6) email

Aela Vely, MD
Critical Care Fellow
(PGY-6) email

Meet the Faculty

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  last updated: 07/09/2018