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Occupational Therapy Fellowship Program

Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS) is offering a full time, 12-month occupational therapy (OT) hand and upper extremity rehabilitation fellowship of didactic and clinical education. The curriculum is set up in four quarters of study each focusing on specific areas of upper extremity impairment. The Fellowship Program is currently seeking accreditation through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) as a post-professional Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation Fellowship.

Fellowship Core Elements

  • Mentorship from a team of clinical hand therapists and upper extremity specialists across the spectrum of occupational therapy services
  • Advanced clinical practice and excellence across the continuum of care
  • High-quality, evidence-based service delivery
  • Pursuit of research, education and scholarship
  • Serving as clinical specialist
  • Interdisciplinary and inter-professional practice and education
  • Experiences in leadership and service

Program Overview

This fellowship has been designed with curriculum and learning theories consistent with recommended adult education learning theory. The learning objectives and didactic content were developed with resources from the Hand Therapy Certification Commission, the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Society of Hand Therapists.

The Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation 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 upper quadrant conditions
  • Advocate for and advance the integral role of occupational therapy and rehabilitation in the management of upper extremity and hand 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 and upper extremity therapy through research

Program Benefits

  • At least 350 to 400 hours of 1-to-1 clinical mentoring
  • Potential opportunity to participate in hand and upper extremity clinical research
  • Leadership skills development
  • Continuing education opportunities
  • 200 hours of unique didactic and scholarly experiences
  • Interprofessional health care practice
  • Orthotics theory, design and fabrication
  • Pain neuroscience intervention
  • Upper quarter interventions
  • Upper extremity interprofessional teamwork with complex diagnostic populations in National Centers of Excellence in Polytrauma/TBI and Spinal Cord Injury and Disability rehabilitation. 
  • Salary 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 1,400 of the 4000 hours required, towards hand therapy certification exam

Eligibility Criteria

  • To apply for the hand therapy fellowship you must meet the following criteria:
  • U.S. Citizen
  • Graduate of an ACOTE accredited occupational therapy program
  • Passed the NBCOT Board examination
  • Any state occupational therapy licensure
  • Three letters of recommendations from individuals who can speak to your clinical skills
  • Evidence of hand therapy interest and pursuit of additional training/experiences in this area
  • No probation or under a learning contract at their current facility or program

Application Process

  • Complete a personal statement using the questions and prompts below to guide your response:
  • What are your goals for participation in a hand therapy fellowship program?
  • Describe how you have demonstrated leadership in the past and how your participation in a fellowship program will enable you to become a leader in the field of hand and upper extremity rehabilitation.
  • Submit a case study from your clinical experience that: 
  • Describes your approach and critical thinking process when evaluating new patients. 
  • Implements your clinical reasoning to apply the comprehensive exam in designing an appropriate treatment plan.
  • Develops a discharge plan through the occupational therapy treatment process.
  • Application deadline: March 15, 2023
  • Central Virginia Health Care System OT Hand Therapy and Upper Extremity Fellowship Program Application (PDF)

Application Review Process

  • The Fellowship Admissions Committee carefully reviews each application. Applicants are evaluated by the committee based on these criteria:
  • Clinical education and/or mentoring experiences
  • Clinical experience
  • Letters of reference
  • Essay

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 extended to the highest scoring candidate.

Dates to Remember

  • Application deadline: March 15, 2023
  • Interview days: April 1-15, 2023
  • Notification of acceptance: May 1, 2023
  • Fellowship start date: September 5, 2023
  • Fellowship end date: August 31, 2024



Deborah Vanderburg, MS, OTR/L, CHT

804-675-5000 ext. 8070


Patricia Cooper, MSHA, M.Ed., OTR/L

804-675-5000 ext. 7342