Life as a Hand Surgery Fellow

Research & Education > Education > Graduate Medical Education > The Mary S. Stern Hand Surgery Fellowship > Life as a Hand Surgery Fellow

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 from children through adulthood. 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 6:30 AM Orthopaedic Grand Rounds
7:15 AM Orthopaedic Grand Rounds
6:30 AM Selected Readngs 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 at Holmes
PM- Office
HSS Staff/Kiefhaber Service AM/PM Reilly OR
Kiefhaber OR
Faruqui OR
AM/PM Kiefhaber OR
Reilly OR
AM - Fellow Office

PM - 2x mo.
Kiefhaber Office
(Montgomery) Alternate Research
AM/PM - Holmes OR
University Service

(University Hospital/CHMC/Shriners)
AM/PM– Wigton/Megee Clinic
Or Foad OR West Chester
AM – Stern OR at Holmes
PM - UC Hand Clinic
AM/PM Trauma Surgery UC
Or Wigton Clinic
AM/PM Wigton OR Holmes AM/PM - Holmes OR
Children’s Hospital Service AM – Cornwall Clinic
PM – Cornwall Clinic/Research
AM – Little Clinic Liberty
Or Cornwall OR Base
PM – Cornwall OR
Or Little/Cornwall Brachial Plexus Clinic
AM – Little Clinic
PM – Cornwall OR Liberty
AM/PM – Little OR
Or Cornwall Clinic/OR Liberty
AM – Little OR Liberty
PM - Research

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 Fellowship sponsors 3 meetings per year:

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

In addition, during the first month of fellowship, all three fellows will attend a microsurgery laboratory at Indiana University to hone his/her microvascular skills.

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 is located in the Goodyear Research Laboratory at UC’s Medical Science Building. 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. 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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