Hand & Wrist

Hand Therapy Fellowship

Background Information

The Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation Fellowship program, part of UR Medicine is one of only two nationally accredited fellowship programs by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). This accredited hand fellowship is designed for post-professional physical therapists with a strong interest in the specialty of Hand Therapy. Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation recently received their re-accreditation by the APTA for their fellowship which was created in 2011. For more information please contact our Hand Therapy Fellowship Director, HeatherC_smith@urmc.rochester.edu.

Hand Rehabilitation is an outpatient clinic with the primary focus on rehabilitation of patients with upper extremity pathology. The clinic is an integral part of the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The Orthopaedic Department services the greater Rochester and surrounding nine counties. This comprehensive department contains forty sub-specialties including Orthopaedic Oncology, Trauma, Sports Medicine, and Pediatric Orthopaedics. The orthopaedic health providers are located together in an orthopaedics building in Clinton Crossings. The close proximity promotes an environment of collaboration among sub-specialties, convenient access to patients, and excellent communication between physicians and therapists.

Presently, the Hand and Upper Extremity department works collaboratively with six hand surgeons in addition to other referring orthopaedic providers within the University and surrounding community. The therapists in this department have the designation CHT or are being trained to take their certification examination. The therapists maintain their credentialing through both continuing education and servicing the community.

The therapists attend annual conferences, symposiums, and participate in weekly journal clubs with the hand surgeons. The hand therapists play an active role assisting in the mentoring of the physician assistant students. orthopaedic residents, and hand fellow. Two of our therapists are providers of functional capacity evaluations for the community. As leaders of hand therapy the therapists take an active role in teaching undergraduate physical therapy students, being clinical instructors, speaking at elementary schools, and presenting to other physicians in the community.

Overview of the Hand Fellowship Program

The program is designed to provide fellows with a year-long intensive study of hand therapy, preparing them to sit for the CHT Exam offered by the Hand Therapy Certification Commission (HTCC). Clinical time during the fellowship is approximately 75-80% of a typical week with a number of structured one-on-one mentoring sessions included. The remainder of the time is spent completing didactic training, research, projects, hand conferences, and presentations related to the overall curriculum of the fellowship program.

Mission of the Hand Fellowship Program

Develop Board Certified Hand Therapists by the Hand Therapy Certification Commission (HTCC). Clinical Specialists in Hand Therapy who excel as members of the orthopedic upper extremity division, demonstrate advanced clinical reasoning, fabricate hand orthoses, and effective teaching strategies for the upper extremity orthopedic population. This fellowship is designed to prepare participants to become skilled hand therapists by providing them with education through multidisciplinary academic and clinical experiences.

The goals of the fellowship program are to educate therapists to:

  • Meet the needs of the hand population by becoming advanced practitioners of hand rehabilitation.
  • Utilize critical inquiry and evidence based practice to incorporate appropriate advanced techniques and knowledge into practice.
  • Become competent instructors of hand therapy practice to colleges and the throughout the community.
  • Utilize clinical and practical reasoning skills to effectively manage the care of the upper extremity orthopedic population.
  • Demonstrate the highest standards of professionalism and ethical practice.
  • Employ foundational and clinical sciences in the development of plans of care.

Hand Fellowship Information

Credentialing: The fellowship program is credentialed by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and is in the process of becoming credentialed by the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT).

Credential Conferred: Certificate of Completion of a Hand Therapy Fellowship.

Program Dates:
Length of Study: 12 Months
Start Date: January 1st

Application Form

URMC Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation
Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation
University of Rochester Medical Center
Rochester, New York

Salary: Fellows will receive a salary reflective of their time spent performing independent patient care. Fellows do not maintain a full case load to secondary to time being allocated for didactic coursework, presentation, and projects.

Benefits: Fellows are eligible for benefits through the University of Rochester Medical Center. This includes employer supported health and dental insurance, long-term disability, pension plan, life insurance and paid time off. This benefit list is not all-inclusive, and applicants are directed to the human resources department at URMC for a complete description of benefits.

Additional Requirements

The applicant must be a graduate of a CAPTE (Commission for Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education) accredited physical therapy program and hold a current license to practice physical therapy in the state of New York.

The applicant must possess the following: a master's or doctorate of physical therapy and completed field work in orthopaedics. A minimum of one year of clinical practice following graduation and credentialing is preferred.

Acceptance will be based on interest, ability and aptitude for a career as a physical therapist in a hand setting.

The strongest applicants may possess the following:

  • Has worked as a therapist or completed an extended internship in an orthopedic upper extremity setting under the direct supervision of a Certified Hand Therapist.
  • Superior verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong fundamental in the principles of clinical reasoning and the application of examination and treatment procedures related to the practice of hand therapy.
  • Exhibit high standards of professional behavior

Fellows will be selected by the Admissions Committee and their decision will be final. The superior candidates will be given an interview, which is conducted by members of the admissions committee. Candidates are assessed in the areas of commitment, knowledge of the purpose of the program, interests and personality. Good candidates will possess qualities of flexibility, team building, leadership, professionalism and desire to learn.

Disability Requirements

A candidate requesting disability accommodations must request the required accommodation(s) in writing to the program director.

Application Process

Application Deadline: June 1st

In applying for admission, the following materials must be submitted:

  • Letter of interest
  • Application with essays
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Current resume with a summary of career goals, employment history, and extracurricular activities

Application Form

Please submit all application materials to Heather C. Smith at the address listed below.

Hand Rehabilitation and the University of Rochester reserves the right not to process any application that is incomplete.

Acceptance into the hand fellowship program is provisional pending the candidate meeting all the conditions of employment of the University of Rochester.

Heather C. Smith, MS, PT, CHT, Cert MDT
Hand Fellowship Director
Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation
4901 Lac de Ville Boulevard
Building D, Suite 130
Rochester, NY 14618
Telephone: (585) 341-9050
Email: HeatherC_Smith@urmc.rochester.edu

The Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation Fellowship program, part of UR Medicine is one of only two nationally accredited fellowship programs by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Hand and Wrist Fellowship Accredidation

Medicine of the Highest Order