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Hand and upper extremity occupational therapy fellowship program

Minneapolis VA Health Care System offers a full time, 12-month hand therapy fellowship of didactic and clinical education. This fellowship has been designed with curriculum and learning theories consistent with recent advances in recommended medical clinical education.

Fellowship core elements

Minneapolis VA Health Care System offers a full time, 12-month hand therapy fellowship of didactic and clinical education with provisional program status as approved by the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Fellowship core elements include:

  • Mentorship from a team of clinical specialists across the spectrum of occupational therapy services
  • Experiences in leadership and service
  • Advanced clinical practice and excellence across the continuum of care
  • High-quality, evidence-based service delivery
  • Pursuit of research, education and scholarship
  • Serving as a subject matter expert while participating in lab instruction of OTD students with our academic partner
  • Interdisciplinary and inter-professional practice and education

Fellowship overview

This fellowship has been designed with curriculum and learning theories consistent with recent advances in recommended medical clinical education. The learning objectives and didactic content was developed with the standards set forth by the Hand Therapy Certification Commission, the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Society of Hand Therapists.

Our occupational therapy (OT) fellowship program is intended to develop specialty trained occupational therapists who will:

  • Promote the optimum health and occupational function of their clients using their clinical reasoning ability, clinical skills, evidence-based practice and highest ethical/professional standards
  • Utilize current evidence-based knowledge when applying advanced occupational therapy assessment and interventions during clinical practice for a variety of conditions
  • Advocate for and advance the integral role of occupational therapy and rehabilitation in the management and prevention of impairments
  • Possess systems skills, such as outcome measurement, quality improvement, project management, leadership, higher level communication and documentation skills
  • Contribute to scholarly advancements in the field of occupational hand therapy through research

Program benefits

  • At least 400 hours of 1-to-1 clinical mentoring
  • Opportunity to participate in upper extremity clinical research
  • Leadership skills development
  • Continuing education opportunities
  • 200 hours of unique didactic and scholarly experiences
    • Interprofessional trauma-informed health care practice
    • Orthotics theory, design and fabrication
    • Pain neuroscience intervention
    • Upper quarter interventions involving the entire upper extremity
    • Upper extremity interprofessional teamwork with complex diagnostic populations in National Centers of Excellence in Polytrauma/TBI and Spinal Cord Injury and Disability rehabilitation. 
  • Stipend and health insurance, not to exceed 1 year in duration 
  • Accrued sick and annual leave
  • Paid federal holidays
  • Successful completion of the program will provide fellows with at least 1,500 of the 4000 hours required, towards hand therapy certification exam


  • One-year commitment: August to August
  • Hand therapy clinical experiences in an outpatient occupational therapy setting
  • 1-to-1 mentored service in service delivery, caseload management and professional development 
  • Coordinated teaching experience as a lab assistant with the University of Saint Catherine


To apply for the hand and upper extremity occupational therapy fellowship program you must meet the following criteria:

  • U.S. Citizen
  • Graduate of an ACOTE accredited occupational therapy program.
  • Passed the NBCOT Board examination prior to the first day of the program. Anticipated exam dates or scheduled exam date for new graduates.
  • State occupational therapy licensure, from any state in the U.S.
  • Two letters of recommendations from individuals who can speak to their clinical skills.
  • Evidence of hand therapy interest and pursuit of additional training/experiences in this area.
  • Not be on a probation or under a learning contract at their current facility or program.

Application process

To submit this application, email the following documents by April 30.

Application deadline: April 30

Dates to remember

  • Start date for submission of applications: January 1
  • Application deadline: April 30
  • Interview days: mid May
  • Notification date:  June 1
  • Notification of acceptance: June 10
  • Fellowship start date: August 16
  • Fellowship end date: August 18

Application review process

The Fellowship Admissions Committee carefully review each application. Applicants are evaluated by the committee based on these criteria:

  • Academic education and degrees obtained
  • Clinical education and/or mentoring experiences
  • Clinical experience
  • Letters of reference

Interview process

Superior applicants will be chosen to participate in the interview process with members of the Fellowship Admissions Committee. Interview criteria used in assessing the applicant during the interview include the following:

  • Applicant’s interview performance
  • Communication/leadership skills
  • Ability to clearly verbalize their goals and objectives
  • Reasons for applying to the fellowship

Following the interview process, members of the Fellowship Admissions Committee rank their choices; and an offer for appointment to the fellowship will be made.