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Hand Therapy Fellowship for Occupational Therapists

Duration: 10 months (September through June annually)
Stipend: A salary proportional to a 50% case load is provided
Positions: 1 AOTA provisional approval position
Location: Hospital for Special Surgery, Hand and Upper Extremity Therapy Center
Contact: Julia Doty OTR/L, CHT, at dotyj@hss.edu or call 917.260.4400

HSS offers a Hand Therapy Fellowship for Occupational Therapists. The HSS Hand Therapy Fellowship for Occupational Therapists is a clinically-based training program for experienced occupational therapists seeking to specialize in hand therapy. This fellowship is full time and 10 months in length. Fellows work 35 hours per week, spending approximately 50% of their time in education experiences and 50% providing supervised patient care.

The mission of the program is to provide occupational therapists with a comprehensive, structured program of clinical and didactic experiences for the development of advanced clinical reasoning, skills, and behaviors in hand and upper extremity rehabilitation.

A weekly education series of lectures and labs with assigned readings is the cornerstone of the didactic portion of the fellowship. In addition, fellows are instructed in the specialized skill of upper extremity and orthotic use, design and fabrication in weekly labs.

One-on-one mentoring, including co-treatments, case review, and skills practice, supports the development of clinical reasoning skills and professional behavior. Clinical communication and technical skills are developed and applied through patient care delivery, introducing more complex cases over time. Knowledge is enhanced by observing specialty therapy practices and hand/upper extremity surgery, office visits with the HSS hand surgeons, and attendance at HSS Hand Service Grand Rounds and Hand Therapy and Rehabilitation inservices. The fellows’ developing competency in hand therapy is integrated and shared through the completion of five projects/presentations.

Goals for Participants:

Upon successful completion of the fellowship program, hand therapy fellows will:

  1. Clinical Reasoning/clinical judgement: The fellow will demonstrate sound clinical reasoning and advanced decision-making skills, considering the client, their condition and their context for selecting appropriate interventions and outcomes and collaboratively facilitating performance of occupations.            
  2. Scientific Knowledge: The fellow will demonstrate advanced knowledge of the body structures, body functions and motor skills relevant to orthopedic-based upper extremity conditions and will be able to apply this knowledge to client care. They will integrate evidence regarding interventions that are occupation based and client centered.   
  3. Evaluation: The fellow will be able to, during an evaluation, identify the occupations that are meaningful to the client and conduct an analysis of occupational performance. Careful understanding of the client factors, performance skills, and performance patterns impacted by orthopedic-based, upper extremity conditions will guide intervention planning.  
  4. Intervention: The fellow will collaborate with clients to form intervention plans that select appropriate occupations, activities, preparatory methods, preparatory tasks, education and training to address client factors, performance skills, performance patterns, activity and occupational demands, for participation in occupations as they relate to the client and their orthopedic-based upper extremity conditions.
  5. Therapeutic Use of Self: The fellow will demonstrate therapeutic use of self, including empathy, reasoning, and the development of a supportive relationship, for open communication and a collaborative approach to care. 
  6. Communication: The fellow will demonstrate effective verbal, non-verbal and written communication with clients, family members, staff and other health care professionals to achieve optimal treatment outcomes and client participation in life situations. The fellow will use communication to provide education and training to clients for effective sharing of knowledge and facilitation of attaining skills to advance specific goals.
  7. Preparatory Methods and Tasks: The fellow will demonstrate proficiency in identifying and implementing pertinent modalities, manual techniques, wound care, orthoses, devices, and home programs to facilitate client participation in life situations and to support occupational performance. 
  8. Professionalism: The fellow will demonstrate professional and ethical behaviors and values, advocacy, participation in continuing learning experiences, and commitment to advancing the profession of occupational therapy according to the standards of the profession. 
  9. Resource Management: The fellow will demonstrate the ability to draw from multiple resources in the treatment of individual clients and to apply the highest level of evidence and knowledge to patient care.

Admission Requirements

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Graduation from an ACOTE® accredited occupational therapy program  
  • Current OT licensure and registration in New York State or eligibility to attain them prior to start of fellowship
  • Malpractice insurance (minimum $1 mil per occurrence/ $3 mil aggregate)
  • 1 year of experience after graduation in an outpatient orthopedic setting with some experience in hand/upper extremity rehabilitation

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Minimum requirements as above
  • Total of 3 or more years of experience after graduation including 1 or more years in hand/upper extremity rehabilitation in an outpatient orthopedic setting
  • Membership in AOTA and/or ASHT


Submit the completed application form, supporting materials as listed on the form, and a $50 non-refundable application fee (check made out to Hospital for Special Surgery) by April 30th to:

Julia Doty, OTR/L, CHT
HSS Rehabilitation 
535 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021

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