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The nature and focus of hand surgery fellowships has been shown to vary. Compounding this issue is a paucity of information regarding the educational goals and desires of prospective fellows. The purpose of this study was to understand applicant motivation for pursuing a fellowship and the most important components of these fellowships. We performed an anonymous survey of all the candidates who applied for a hand surgery fellowship during the 2019-2020 academic year to establish general demographic information, preferences regarding fellowship size, and the importance of various educational and logistical components. We also recorded self-reported comfort level in treating pathologies encountered during a hand-focused subspecialty practice. The most important motivation cited for pursuing a fellowship in hand surgery was the "complexity and variety of cases" (n = 55, 90%). The 5 most important desired components of a fellowship were the exposure to "bread and butter" hand surgery (n = 35, 57%), ability to take level 1 hand call (n = 26, 43%), exposure to complex wrist reconstruction (n = 26, 43%) or peripheral nerve surgery/transfers (n = 23, 38%), and soft tissue coverage including free flaps (n = 19, 31%). Further analysis revealed that the orthopedic surgery residents frequently rated exposure to level 1 call (n = 20, 45%) as 1 of their 3 most important characteristics, whereas the plastic/general surgery residents frequently ranked exposure to complex wrist reconstruction (n = 16, 38%) as 1 of their 3 most important characteristics. The components of a fellowship that received the fewest selections into an applicant's top 3 components were exposure to shoulder surgery (n = 1, 1.64%), education regarding practice building/billing (n = 2, 3.2%), and the ability to conduct research (n = 4, 6.5%). Most applicants pursue a subspecialty training in hand surgery because of the field's variety and breadth of cases. The applicants prioritize exposure to "bread and butter" cases in conjunction with both complex soft tissue and microsurgical reconstruction. Assisting hand fellowships in understanding what is most important to prospective fellows will allow for appropriate recruitment and development of the field of hand surgery in general. Copyright © 2022 American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Carl M Harper, Fjola Johannesdottir, Tamara D Rozental. Prospective Fellows' Appraisal of Hand Surgery Fellowships. The Journal of hand surgery. 2022 Dec;47(12):1229.e1-1229.e8

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PMID: 34716056

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