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Harvard Hand/Upper Extremity Fellowship FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

How many fellows are there?

We accept four fellows every year into the Harvard Hand and Upper Extremity Fellowship. In addition, our fellows cross-rotate at the Massachusetts General Hospital fellowship for 2 months each and interact with the MGH hand fellows.

What are the dates of the fellowship?

The fellowship runs from August 1st to July 31st.

Who are the faculty of the Harvard Hand and Upper Extremity Fellowship?

Faculty members from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) include Doctors Philip Blazar, George Dyer, Brandon Earp, Dafang Zhang, Christian Sampson, Simon Talbot, Lydia Helliwell and Matthew Carty.

Faculty members from Boston Children’s Hospital include Doctors Donald Bae, Andrea Bauer, and Carley Vuillermin.

At which facilities do fellows operate and see patients?

  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)
  • Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH)
  • Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWHFH)
  • Boston Children’s Hospital in Waltham
  • BWH/MGH Ambulatory Health Center Foxborough.

What facility is the farthest distance to travel?

BWH/MGH Ambulatory Health Center Foxborough. This facility is 28 miles drive from BWH/Childrens Hospital.

Do fellows have independent admitting and surgical privileges?

At the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH), the fellows have independent admitting and surgical privileges. They do not have these privileges Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH).

Our fellowship’s policy is that for the first 3 months all surgical cases are done with a faculty member. Following that period, each fellow is reviewed and approved for independent privileges by the faculty. Once a fellow has received approval, they are able to act as an independent surgeon with the attending involved at the fellow’s discretion.

Fellows also have independent admitting and surgical privileges while at MGH.

Are there residents?

There are orthopaedic residents rotating on the hand surgery service at both the BWH and BCH at any time. While at the BWH, the fellows teach and share clinical responsibilities with a PGY-4 and a PGY-2 in the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program (HCORP). PGY-3 residents from HCORP, Lenox Hill, and Dartmouth cover Boston Children’s Hospital Orthopaedics Department. All of the faculty are very committed to having the resident/fellow interaction be positive for all concerned.

Fellowship Director Commentary: The faculty enjoys watching the fellows blossom through the year and tackle increasingly complex cases on their own. Operative independence is a great responsibility and one which we --the faculty-- take as seriously as the fellows. We go to great lengths to acquire independent surgical privileges for our fellows from BWH because we see this as a critical component of their growth as surgeons. We have never and will never ask fellows to take care of attending complications. Furthermore, the faculty is available at all times to assist the fellows with the care of our patients.

What is the didactic conference schedule?

The adult conference schedule includes a weekly “classics” reading list/discussion, an advanced upper extremity anatomy lab, orthopedic Grand Rounds and Morbidity and Mortality conferences, weekly indications conference, monthly indications conference combined with Plastic Surgery, and participation in the weekly Residents Hand conference.

At BCH, there are case-based didactics every Monday and Friday based upon our Selected Readings in Pediatric Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery syllabus. Over the course of the year, all major pediatric hand topics are covered in depth. In addition there are several conferences over the year with fellows from other programs in the city with invited speakers and surgical simulation on pre-determined topics.

Is there a Journal club?

There is a Harvard/Boston-wide Hand Journal Club that meets monthly. Fellows from the BWH, MGH, Tufts, Lahey and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) are assigned papers for discussion. Faculty from all institutions participate.

Are there elective rotations or opportunities for fellows to tailor their clinical experience during the year (e.g. more pediatric cases)?

This can be done on occasion with communication in advance with all affected parties. Regular alterations or changes in schedule are not possible and there is no elective time.

Who covers fellows’ patients when fellows rotate to another hospital or facility?

In general, fellows will cover each other’s patients to limit travel among the various locations. Communication among fellows, residents, attendings, and NP/PAs is essential and different providers will cover at different times.

What is the call schedule?

Call is equally divided amongst the hand fellows; on average, fellows take call every three days. At both BWH and BCH, “hand call” is shared by both the orthopaedic and plastic surgery services, alternating by week. Even when plastic surgery is on call, an orthopaedic fellow is on call for our service to care for our patients and when other services specifically consult us (e.g. Orthopedic Trauma, Rheumatology etc.).

For the 2 months that our fellows cross-over to MGH, call is also every third day. At the MGH, orthopaedic fellows may take hand call with either an orthopaedic or plastic surgery attending.

Is there vacation time?

Yes. 3 weeks per year.

Do the fellows attend any meetings during the year?

Yes. The fellowship will fund a trip to one national and one local meeting per year. Other meetings may be attended if there is a compelling education or other reason (e.g. paper presentation) with the permission of the program director, discussion with faculty and arranged coverage.

Is there formal education in microsurgery?

The program funds a week-long Microvascular Surgery course at Columbia University for all fellows. Typically this is attended together with co-fellows in July just before the start of the fellowship year. Details can be found on their website.

Do fellows have to pay for malpractice insurance?

The hospital covers the fellows Malpractice insurance.

What benefits are provided?

The hospital provides fellows with health insurance, disability insurance, parking, malpractice Insurance, and 3 weeks of vacation.

Is time allotted for fellows to go to job interviews?

Time away for interviews is obtained by notifying the affected faculty and arranging coverage. This may count toward the vacation time allotted.

Is there a research requirement?

Fellows are expected to participate in at least one project leading to a publishable paper. This topic must be identified to the program director. If the paper is not completed within the 12 month fellowship period, research plans for the fellows involvement in the project upon departure must be agreed on with the PI and shared with the program director.

Are there many research opportunities?

The faculty at both BWH and BCH have ongoing robust research programs. A number of opportunities to get involved with projects at either institution exist. The Boston area has an enormous biomedical community for collaboration; however, within the single year of the fellowship, most fellows pursue a limited number of clinical research projects.

The Application Process

What is the application process?

We accept the Universal Hand Surgery Fellowship application. The deadline for applications is November 15th.

For additional information contact:

Angela Singleton-Scott
Harvard Hand Fellowship Coordinator
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Department of Orthopaedics
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115

Phone: 617-732-5384
Fax: 617-730-2815

How do fellowship applicants know if they are granted an interview?

Candidates will be invited via email for interview. Historically, we have offered 2 interview dates in late January.

Are applications accepted from surgeons trained in General Surgery?

No. As our program provides clinical care to complex problems of the entire upper limb (sternoclavicular joint to fingertip) and across subspecialty domains (e.g. trauma, arthroscopy and sports medicine, arthroplasty), we only accept applications from residents trained in orthopaedic and plastic surgery disciplines.

Are applications from candidates outside the US and Canada accepted?

Yes. We consider international candidates and have resources available to assist with visa support. More feedback regarding a candidate’s specific situation can be obtained from Angela Singleton-Scott as well as the Mass General Brigham Office of Resources for Trainees.


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