Life as a Hand Surgery Fellow

Education > Fellowships

The Mary S. Stern Combined Hand Surgery Fellowship was established from Dr. Peter Stern’s passion and dedication to teach the science of hand surgery to young surgeons. The Fellowship officially began in 1987 staffed by the original three founders, doctors Stern, McDonough, and Kiefhaber. The staff has now grown to more than a dozen teaching physicians with Board certification in orthopedic or plastic surgery. The Fellowship has grown to attract outstanding residents from around the US.

History and Philosophy

The philosophy of this Fellowship remains constant and is at the core of all decision-making. We believe that it is critical for physicians to understand the “why” and not just the “how” of hand surgery. It is truly a science that must be thoroughly understood for quality patient care. Learning the art of diagnosis and conservative non-surgical management is as important as mastering surgical techniques.

Critical evaluation and scientific analysis is also core to our philosophy. Our Fellows are challenged to contribute to the advancement of Hand Surgery through laboratory research, clinical research, and to present their findings at scientific meetings. The Fellows are taught that the commitment to hand surgery is a life-long pursuit in which they can find honor and purpose. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive education in hand and upper extremity surgery. It is anticipated that the Fellow will devote the majority of his/her practice to hand and upper extremity surgery. Finally, we encourage our Fellows to successfully complete the examination leading to a subspecialty certificate in Hand Surgery and become an Active member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

Life as a Hand Surgery Fellow

  Monday           Tuesday     Wednesday      Thursday Friday
Conferences 6:30 AM Problem Conference 6:30 AM SCS Conference 7:15 AM
Orthopaedic Grand Rounds
6:30 AM Selected Readings 6:30 AM Didactic
Lecture or Plastics
Hand Combined Conference 
Stern Service AM - Stern OR
PM - Stern Office
AM - Stern OR
PM - UC Hand Clinic
AM - Stern Office

Fellow Office 

PM - Stern Office
AM/PM - Stern OR at HSC or GSH  AM – Stern OR or Holmes OR
PM – Research
HSS Staff/Kiefhaber Service AM/PM Reilly OR
Kiefhaber OR
Markiewitz/Faruqui OR
AM/PM Kiefhaber OR
Reilly OR
AM - Fellow Office

Pm - 2x mo.
Kiefhaber or Markiewitz Office
(Montgomery) Alternate Research
AM/PM Fassler OR
Kiefhaber OR
University Service

(University Hospital/CHMC/Shriners)
AM - Foad Clinic
PM - Research
AM - Foad OR West Chester

PM - UC Hand Clinic
AM/PM Foad
Beacon Clinic or Yakuboff/Cornwall
AM/PM Foad – Beacon (OR)
AlternateAM – Cornwall-Liberty Clinic
PM – Cornwall – OR
AM/PM - Holmes OR

Didactic Education

This fellowship emphasizes a didactic educational experience. Each week there are several conferences, including:

  • Problem Conference: This consists of case presentations by fellows, residents, and staff using a PowerPoint format.
  • SCS: This conference is given at the University by Dr. Stern and consists of Socratic discussions of problem hand cases.
  • Selected Readings: Each week 6-7 classic articles are reviewed with staff on a specific topic. Every 6th week, there is a Journal Club.
  • Didactic Conference: Specialty lectures are given by the staff from Hand Surgery Specialists and the University of Cincinnati.
  • Gross Anatomy Laboratory: Once every six weeks, we have an anatomy laboratory conference. After reading about the anatomy of an upper extremity region, the fellows dissect a fresh specimen. The attendants and fellows then spend a morning reviewing the dissection and discussing areas of clinical importance.
  • Visiting Professors: Two times each year, a visiting professor joins us for a day of case presentations and lectures.
  • Annually there is a one-day meeting with the Louisville and Indianapolis Hand groups (Tri-State Hand Meeting). The fellows make at least one presentation and there are 2-3 faculty panels.

Clinical Education

As the fellow gains experience in the management of hand and upper extremity problems, he/she is given progressive responsibility. This is accomplished by teaching through exposure to a large volume of surgery (approximately 5,000 cases annually) as well as exposure in the outpatient clinic (approximately 40,000 visits annually).

At the Hand Surgery Center, the fellows receive a broad based exposure to fractures, dislocations, inflammatory disorder, reconstruction (hand, wrist and elbow), and acquired hand disorders.

The University of Cincinnati Medical Center rotation provides exposure to complex trauma, microvascular surgery, nerve reconstruction and hand reconstruction. At the Children’s Hospital, fellows are exposed to congenital hand surgery, pediatric trauma and brachial plexus surgery.

It is expected, upon completing the fellowship that the fellow will have completed a manuscript that can be submitted for publication in a peer review journal.


The fellows attend 3 meetings per year

  • Annual ASSH meeting
  • A hand meeting of his/her choice
  • Annual Cincinnati-Louisville-Indianapolis meeting

On call responsibilities:

Fellows will be on call approximately once every fourth night and every fourth weekend.

Fellows take call at the University Hospital with primary Hand Call every odd day.

Call also includes coverage at two local private hospitals with the Hand Surgery Center Attending physician.

Teaching Laboratory

The Microsurgery Lab at Bethesda is conveniently located in the Bethesda Oak Hospital. A trained microsurgical technician staffs the lab so Fellows can practice microsurgical techniques


Hand Surgery Specialists performs approximately 25,000 outpatient visits and 5,000 surgical procedures yearly. The case distribution reflects spectrum of hand surgery.

Acute Trauma 20%
Traumatic Reconstruction     20%
General Hand Surgery 20%
Arthritis 15%
Shoulder 5%
Acute and Elective Microvascular Surgery 5%
Congenital/Plexus 15%

Salary & Benefits

The salary is competitive with regional fellowships and in 2016-2017 is approximately $60,000/year. Salary, healthcare coverage and malpractice coverage are covered through the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. There are also two weeks of vacation per year.

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