St. Luke's University Health Network Orthopaedic Fellowship

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Learn about this program:

The role of physical therapists in the management of spine related pain is continually growing. This increasing responsibility requires leaders in physical therapy to have advanced training to effectively manage these patients through the continuum of care. Our goal is to provide advanced education to physical therapists to produce autonomous providers who consistently achieve exemplary patient outcomes, manage complex cases, and serve as resources for fellow clinicians to enhance spine care.

  • Program application deadline: April 15th
  • Program start date: July 1st
  • Program duration: 1 year
  • Number of resident/fellow openings per cohort: 2
  • Tuition cost: Full tuition coverage is available


2301 Cherry Lane
Bethlehem, PA 18015

Program Website


Main Contact:

Stephen Kareha, PT, DPT, ATC, PhD

  • Is there a salary or stipend? Yes
    • If yes, what salary can the resident expect?
      Competitive salary, commensurate with experience
  • Are there benefits? Yes
    • If yes, what are they?
      Health benefits upon employment; Accrued paid time off
  • Is there housing assistance? No
  • Clinical site information:
    Fellows can complete program requirements at any of our over 40 orthopaedic sites throughout eastern Pennsylvania & western New Jersey.
  • Clinical mentorship information:
    4 hours of 1:1 hands-on mentoring per week.
  • What is a distinguishing feature or selling point of your program?
    Leadership development; Weekly scheduled interprofessional collaboration with physicians and expert PTs; 2 offsite courses through USC in advanced spine care management.
  • Is there the ability to work with a specialized population(s)? Yes.
    • If yes, what populations(s)?
      Specialized orthopaedic population.

Faculty and/or Resident/Fellow-in-training Spotlight

Spotlighted Faculty:


  • Name: Stephen Kareha, PT, DPT, ATC, PhD
  • Email: Stephen.kareha@sluhn.org
  • Background Education and Experience:
    "I studied to become an Athletic Trainer at Gettysburg College then earned a DPT from Arcadia University. After graduation, I had the opportunity to be the inaugural candidate to complete a post-graduate mentorship program in spine pain & vestibular dysfunction at Allied Services in Scranton Pennsylvania, and then began practicing in a private practice in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Through that mentorship program and my early years of practice, I found my calling in teaching and research and subsequently completed my PhD at Nova Southeastern University. While working toward my PhD, I joined St. Luke's University Health Network to create an orthopaedic physical therapy residency that emphasizes interprofessional collaboration and also helped to develop a multidisciplinary comprehensive spine program at St. Luke's that focuses on direct patient access to the appropriate provider and professional autonomy and interdependence among all providers involved. To enhance this program and the profession of physical therapy, we then developed a spine fellowship to provide advanced education to orthopaedic physical therapists to produce autonomous providers who consistently achieve exemplary patient outcomes, manage complex cases, and serve as resources for fellow clinicians to enhance spine care for the orthopaedic clients we serve. In addition to my work at St. Lukes', I am part-time faculty in the DeSales University DPT program teaching therapeutic exercise, research methods, advanced practice and orthopaedic topics. Additionally, I am currently working with ABPTRFE as chair of the Spine DFP development committee and am an active member of the AOPT Imaging SIG and serve on the nominating committee of the Orthopaedic Residency & Fellowship SIG."
  • What is your role within the program?
    "Program Director of the St. Luke's University Health Network Spine Fellowship."
  • What separates this program from others like it?
    "As a Spine Fellow at St. Luke's, you will be immersed in an environment that harnesses the vast resources of a large interdisciplinary network and a well-established Comprehensive Spine program that promotes Physical Therapists as the first contact provider. This environment allows you to hone your leadership, diagnostic, and advanced manual & movement intervention skills to help your patients better and become the physical therapist you always wanted to be!"
  • Why do you think advanced orthopedic training through residency and fellowship is important?
    "Physical therapists are primed to be the best provider for spine care in our nation's healthcare system. To be able to help our patients better, we need to continue advancing our skills to help our patients directly and by helping to train others."
  • Please share a little-known, fun fact that others may be surprised to learn about you.
    "My wife and I have 3 daughters, and I was a 3-time Academic All-American wrestler for Gettysburg College."

Spotlighted Fellow-in-training : 


  • Name: Melissa Hager, PT, DPT
  • Email: Melissa.hager@sluhn.org
  • Background Education
    "I graduated from Arcadia University (Beaver College at the time) with my MSPT in 1999. I revived my t-DPT from University of Scranton in 2006. I initially passed my OCS certification in 2007, and successfully re-certified in 2017."
  • What type of population are you working with at your program?
    "While working in a primarily orthopedic population, the fellowship has now permitted me to focus on spine across all age groups."
  • Why did you select this program?
    "I chose this spine fellowship as a challenge to myself to refresh my career and excite myself again about my profession and to be able to offer specialized care in a rural area."
  • How do you think residency/fellowship will change your career trajectory going forward?
    "I believe the spine fellowship will allow me to enhance my leadership skills and help other therapists advance their skills to offer the best care and services to the community as possible."
  • Please share a little-known, fun fact that others may be surprised to learn about you.
    "I am trying to complete a half marathon in all 50 states. To date, I have completed 25, with 26 and 27 on the schedule!"