John Indalecio, OTR/L, is the 2007-2008 HSS Hand Therapy Fellow. Carol Page, PT, DPT, CHT, is Manager of Strategic Improvement and Education for the Rehabilitation Department, and coordinates the fellowship program. Questions about the program can be directed to Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carol: John, we are very pleased to have such an outstanding hand therapy fellow to kick off our new program.
John: I am very happy to be here! I was pleased just to get the interview, but throughout the entire process, I felt energized by the possibility. The fellowship provides exposure to many areas that would be difficult to experience without this opportunity, such as surgical observations, and rounding with the surgeons.
Carol: Tell us about your background. What did you do before beginning the HSS Hand Therapy Fellowship?
John: I have been an occupational therapist for about 9 years, working at a 600-bed neighborhood hospital in Park Slope, Brooklyn for the past 8 years. I worked primarily in acute care, including in our neonatal intensive care unit. I was also needed regularly in the outpatient hand therapy clinic. Over the last five years I gained experience, interest, and confidence in the outpatient setting.
Carol: What attracts you to the specialty of hand therapy?
John: I feel that there are a couple of areas in which occupational therapists are primary contributors: pediatrics (particularly in sensory integration), and hand therapy. I had the opportunity to work with some very skilled hand therapists in my previous job. They helped me begin to unravel the mysteries of the hand, and start to enjoy the setting. In addition, I really want to be involved in a volunteer abroad service like Guatemala Healing Hands, or Doctors Without Borders. It is this desire to develop portable, unique, and advanced patient-based care that motivates me.
Carol: Why did you choose to apply for the HSS Hand Therapy Fellowship?
John: I had just made an internal decision to pursue becoming a CHT just before receiving the mailing from HSS. As I read the requirements I realized I was qualified to apply. I felt that the application itself would give me the opportunity to reflect on this new career course.
Carol: Please share some of your impressions of the program with us.
John: The fellowship has been excellent: well-designed, well-organized, and engaging from the start. The hand therapists are expert, able to answer the most complex questions, as well as the simplest ones without condescension. I feel like I have been able to establish solid relationships with the group here. I’ve gotten to spend time with MDs, Hand Surgery Fellows, nurses and other staff that make up HSS. The hospital’s commitment to patient care and employee engagement is remarkable, and palpable. Each therapist not only performs patient care, but is also engaged with other projects ranging from creating home exercise programs to preparing presentations that they will give at the ASHT conference.
Carol: What do you hope to do after completing your fellowship?
John: As I mentioned earlier, I’d like to sit for the hand therapy certification exam this November, so continued study until then. As far as workplace, I still see myself honing my skills in a larger hand clinic, most likely affiliated with a hospital, developing relationships with skilled hand therapists, and hand surgeons.
Carol: Is there anything else you’d like to say to therapists considering applying for the fellowship program?
John: The best advice I can give is to let your underlying passion for the practice of hand therapy come through on your application. And you must get it in on time—Carol’s deadlines are for real!