Hand Surgery Fellowship

Fellows in hand surgery at the University of Michigan benefit from a challenging and multidisciplinary program that covers the full breadth and depth of the specialty. You’ll leave the program prepared to lead in your field.

Program Overview

The University of Michigan Hand Fellowship includes two positions available to board-eligible plastic and orthopaedic surgeons who wish additional training in the evaluation and management of upper extremity problems. Both positions are a one-year training program, running from August 1 through July 31 each year offering:

  • A busy clinical practice, treating patients with a range of common and complex conditions, including traumatic injuries, arthritis, tendonitis, nerve compression, congenital differences, vascular or circulation problems, tetraplegia, brachial plexus injury, and cancers of the hand.
  • A rotation schedule designed to immerse you in the full lifecycle of care, from the clinic to the OR to a patient’s postoperative rehabilitation.
  • Exposure to a range of clinical care settings, including adult and pediatric tertiary-care hospitals, outpatient clinics and ambulatory surgery centers, and a community hospital experience, all part of Michigan Medicine, the high-volume academic medical center at the University of Michigan.
  • Annual lectures from visiting experts as part of the Michigan Hand Surgery Visiting Professor program. Past visiting professors include Drs. James Chang, Richard Gelberman, Brent Graham, Michelle Carlson, and Michelle James.
  • A truly combined program, with equal immersion in both plastic surgery-based and orthopaedic surgery-based Hand Services.  Our fellows have found this to be a unique benefit to our program.  This type of collaborative interaction is not found in many academic centers.

Clinical Experience

Although the faculty are evenly distributed between Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery, we think of ourselves first and foremost as Hand Surgeons, and we function as a unified group. The majority of training is carried out at the University of Michigan Medical Center, which includes the University Hospital and the adjacent C. S. Mott Children's Hospital. Outpatient clinics and ambulatory surgery centers are situated "off-campus", but these facilities are within a short drive of the Medical Center. A unique, community-based hospital experience is also available at the nearby Trinity Health Chelsea Hospital, where our hand surgeons also do cases.

The rotation schedule is set up in 2- and 4-month blocks to allow continuous immersion in the practice of these faculty members. The fellows accompany the faculty member to both the clinic and the operating room during these rotations, providing continuity of care between the initial evaluation, the operative management, and postoperative rehabilitation of each patient. The fellows are given incrementally increased responsibility throughout the year, as they move through the program.

Our curriculum has been carefully designed to address the six core competencies set forth by ACGME:

  1. Medical knowledge
  2. Patient care
  3. Practice based learning and improvement
  4. Interpersonal and communication skills
  5. Systems based practice
  6. Professionalism

The teaching curriculum covers the full spectrum of hand surgery in a series of weekly conferences held jointly with the Plastic Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery hand teams. These conferences are attended by the fellows, residents, and faculty on the hand surgery services. Each lecture is broadcast via teleconference for off-site learners and recorded for later review if desired. The discussions are typically case-based, with occasional didactic lectures as well.

Curriculum Topics

  • Amputations and prosthetics
  • Arthroplasty and arthrodesis
  • Basal joint arthritis/CMC arthroplasty
  • Bone tumors
  • Brachial plexus palsy
  • Carpal instability
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Compression neuropathies
  • Congenital hand conditions
  • Distal radius fractures
  • Diversity and health equity
  • DRUJ disorders
  • Dupuytren disease
  • Extensor tendon injuries
  • Fingertip and nailbed injuries
  • Flexor tendon injuries
  • Forearm fractures
  • Hand therapy
  • High-pressure injection injuries
  • Infections and bites
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Interpreting electrodiagnostic tests
  • Intra-articular hand fractures
  • Intrinsic hand flaps
  • IP and MP dislocations
  • Joint contractures
  • Kienböck’s disease
  • Malunions of the hand and wrist
  • Mangled hand injury
  • Metacarpal fractures (extra-articular)
  • Nerve injuries
  • Pain syndromes
  • Pediatric fractures
  • Phalangeal fractures (extra-articular)
  • Regional and distant flaps
  • Replantation and microsurgery
  • Scaphoid fractures
  • Skin tumors
  • Soft tissue tumors
  • Swan-neck and boutonniere deformities
  • Tendon transfers
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Tetraplegia and cerebral palsy
  • Thermal injury (frostbite and burns)
  • Vascular disorders
  • Wrist arthroscopy

At Michigan, the ACGME duty hour restrictions are strictly monitored and enforced for both residents and fellows. Hand surgery fellows at Michigan cover emergency hand call on average every third night. Junior residents provide "first call" coverage for floor calls and consults; the hand fellows are expected to supervise the residents when evaluating new emergency consults. When on call, the fellows are always backed up by an attending surgeon.

We have a vibrant research element to the hand fellowship here at Michigan Medicine. Fellows can participate in M-CHOIR and M-OPEN research initiatives, amongst many other opportunites. M-CHOIR, or Michigan Center for Hand Outcome and Innovation Research, conducts hand centered research projects. M-OPEN, or Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network, focuses on new ways to manage pain and minimize opioid use for all surgical procedures in the state of Michigan. Fellows can also get research opportunities and support through CHOP (Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy), which is a robust health services research team. Opportunities also exist for biomechanical studies, anatomy studies, and more through the extensive collaboration between Plastic Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, and the University at large.

We understand that fellows arrive at fellowship with variable training in microsurgery, depending on the rigors of their prior residency training. Over the years, we have had a variety of training opportunities available for fellows, ranging from live animal models to industry-sponsored courses, to our very own University of Michigan Clinical Simulation Center (UMCSC). This Center is certified as a Level 1 Training Center by the American College of Surgeons. At this Center, fully functioning operating microscopes and a variety of realistic models are available for our trainees to practice their techniques with vessel anastomosis and nerve coaptation.

The fellowship is shared between the Section of Plastic Surgery, within the Department of Surgery, and the Orthopaedic Surgery Department.

Our Graduates

Graduates of the University of Michigan Hand Fellowship program have been universally successful at obtaining placement in their desired career path. Whether our graduates continue with a career in academia or pursue private practice, our goal is to prepare them to be excellent, responsible, ethical surgeons wherever they put down roots.

Life in Ann Arbor

The U-M Medical School website provides a selection of guides for trainees get to know Ann Arbor, their training ground, and Michigan Medicine, as they are preparing to start their fellowship. Additional resources cover topics such as campus life, housing, health and wellness. 

Salary & Benefits

The University of Michigan offers highly competitive salaries and tremendous benefits to our residents/fellows. An overview of salary, benefits and employment eligibility is available on the University of Michigan Medical School website. The University of Michigan offers highly competitive salaries and tremendous benefits to our residents/fellows. An overview of salary, benefits and employment eligibility is available on the University of Michigan Medical School website. The house officers at Michigan are represented by the House Officer Association.

Hand surgery fellowship candidates must be board-eligible plastic or orthopaedic surgeons. Two fellows are accepted each year.

Beginning in 2017, the application process for hand fellowship has been standardized and centralized. Applications are now submitted online through the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) website. Applicants will need to create an ASSH.org login to submit an application. The ASSH portal also provides methods for securely uploading your additional documents and letters of recommendation. (Mailed-in applications will no longer be accepted.)

The deadline for the Hand Surgery Fellowship application is November 15, 2024. Virtual interview dates will be announced in late summer, 2024. All interviews at University of Michigan are mandated to be virtual once more this year. An optional, informal, virtual Q&A session hosted by our current hand fellows will take place associated with each interview date.

Contact Us

Please contact Michael Bak ([email protected]) at the Department of Surgery Education Office with any questions.