What to Expect in an Obesity Medicine Fellowship
Obesity Medicine fellowship programs provide comprehensive, evidence-based clinical training in managing obesity. These doctors earn the title of “fellowship trained,” which indicates the highest level of dedication to Obesity Medicine. Not all programs are exactly the same, but all programs have met minimal standards put forth by the OMFC. Fellowship-trained physicians often credit their success in their subspecialty primarily to their year(s) in a fellowship program. See below to better understand what to expect in an Obesity Medicine fellowship.
Obesity Medicine fellowships provide training in the treatment of complex obesity using multi-disciplinary care so patients achieve optimal outcomes. Fellows acquire an understanding of...
Obesity Medicine fellowships are 1-year, full-time, clinically-based subspecialty training experiences. A number of programs provide the opportunity for an additional year of training, which typically focuses more on obesity research activities. Almost all programs run from July - July each year. Applications are due in November and offers are made in early December.
Faculty and Environment
The majority of Obesity Medicine fellowship programs have at least 2-3 physicians as core faculty members who are Diplomates of the American Board of Obesity Medicine or have an expertise in obesity management. These faculty members will mostly be involved in the outpatient Obesity Medicine clinic. In addition to the core faculty, fellows will have rotations with faculty members from a number of different specialties, which may include: Nutrition, Bariatric Surgery, Endocrinology, Sleep Medicine, GI/Hepatology, Exercise Physiology, Cardiology, and others. Given that Obesity Medicine is an emerging field of medicine, and fellowships are not accredited by the ACGME, there is some flexibility in what is taught and the amount of time spent in each rotation. We encourage programs to play to their strengths when structuring their training programs.
Programs recognized by the OMFC are located in institutions that have other ACGME-accredited fellowship programs. Oversight of obesity medicine fellowships should be provided locally by the home institution’s Department of Medicine education office and GME committee. Fellows are full-time paid positions. Obesity Medicine fellowship programs are positioned in environments that provide the opportunity to see a variety of patients. Programs typically have ~1,000 new patient visits annually and even more for follow-up care. Obesity Medicine fellowships are not a preceptorship or shadowing opportunity, they are structured like other non-standard fellowship training programs in medicine.
The majority of the fellows' training will be conducted in the outpatient Obesity Medicine clinic. In addition, programs are encouraged to offer a number of elective rotations that relate to Obesity Medicine. Many programs have fellows rotate through Bariatric surgery, Endocrinology, Sleep Medicine, GI/Hepatology, Exercise Physiology, Inpatient and Outpatient Nutrition, Cardiology, Psychology, and others. Fellows should seek out electives that interest them and talk to the fellowship Program Director about how best to incorporate the rotations into the training schedule. On average, fellows spend 5-6 clinical sessions per week in the outpatient Obesity Medicine clinic, and the remainder of the week is filled with elective rotations, research projects, conferences, teaching, and other scholarly activities. Details for each program's training are available here.
At a minimum, Obesity Medicine fellowship programs provide training in:
- Adult medical obesity therapy
- Pediatric medical therapy
- Lifestyle-based obesity therapy
- Behavior modification
- Surgical obesity therapy
- Didactic curriculum on the science and clinical aspects of obesity
Obesity Medicine fellowships are typically 1-year in length, although some programs offer the option of an additional second year that may focus on research, public health, general internal medicine, or other areas. For the purposes of sitting for the American Board of Obesity Medicine exam, fellows need only complete the one year of clinical training.
Most programs start in July each year, but some circumstances may require an 'off cycle' start time. Many programs have a short time period at the beginning of the fellowship (~3 months) to shadow the attending Obesity Medicine physicians before they are ready to see patients on their own with continued oversight. This amount of time varies among programs as does the degree of oversight provided. Many fellows begin looking at job opportunities in late fall/winter and aim to have a position secured prior to the end of their training.
Following the completion of fellowship, graduates can apply to sit for the American Board of Obesity Medicine exam. Applications are typically due in July each year. Fellows who complete their training at an OMFC-recognized program get a discount on their application fee and do not need to complete the 60 CME credits that is required of non-fellowship trained applicants. The exam is offered in the fall each year.