Joseph Martinez, PT, DPT is the 2013-2014 HSS Hand Therapy Fellow. Carol Page, PT, DPT, CHT is Senior Director at HSS Rehabilitation and directs the fellowship program. Questions about the program can be directed to Carol at email@example.com.
Carol: Tell us a little about your background and why you became a physical therapist.
Joe: I am a drummer who decided on physical therapy as a second career to be able to remain close to music and the arts and combine that with my new passion for healthcare and rehabilitation. Prior to coming to Hospital for Special Surgery, I had been practicing for 2 years in an outpatient orthopedic clinic, treating patients from pre-teens to nonagenarians, literally from head to toe.
Carol: Why did you decide to specialize in hand therapy?
Joe: The idea of specializing in hands was something I had thought about since I had been applying to PT schools. As I pursued my physical therapy education, my background influenced my choice. I became more and more fascinated with hands, how they work, and how our lives are affected when they function differently or sub-optimally, from everyday tasks we take for granted to activities involved in our livelihoods.
Carol: What led you to the HSS Hand Therapy Fellowship?
Joe: The reputation of Hospital for Special Surgery precedes itself. My PT class used Post-Surgical Rehabilitation Guidelines for the Orthopedic Clinician, written by HSS Rehab staff, as a textbook for many classes. As a student, I was exploring options for performing a clinical internship in hand therapy when I became aware of the Fellowship. I felt it was something I needed to pursue when the time was right. I wanted to have some experience under my belt before I applied, and I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity.
Carol: How would you describe your experience in the program?
Joe: The educational opportunities here are virtually limitless! From splint lab, to observing surgeries and other HSS Rehabilitation Centers, to the weekly lecture series and seminars/inservices from HSS staff and clinicians visiting from all over the world, it is all there for the asking. And, the nurturing disposition of the entire Hand Therapy Center is incredible. Everyone here has truly gone out of their way to help me with advice or to answer any question I’ve had. While I have a mentor assigned to me to guide my experience here, I’ve always said that I felt as though the entire department is my mentor.
Carol: What do you hope to do after completing your fellowship?
Joe: First and foremost, I intend to sit for the Certified Hand Therapist exam. Getting my CHT certification is a priority. After that, I just want to practice at a facility that nurtures and encourages education, research, and mentorship the way HSS does.
Carol: Do you have any advice for therapists considering applying for the fellowship program?
Joe: It is some of the hardest, yet most fulfilling, work you will ever do. Just be yourself and trust in the process. It can feel daunting at times, but no matter what, the time really does fly by. You will never have another chance like this again, so go for it!