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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 designed in four quarters of study each focusing on specific areas of upper extremity impairment and treatment. The Fellowship Program is currently seeking accreditation through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) as a post-professional Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation Fellowship.

Fellows will be employed full-time completing 350 to 400 hours of 1:1 mentoring with specialists in the field of upper quadrant occupational therapy rehabilitation in a variety of settings (outpatient, acute care, SCI, polytrauma). 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. Training will consist of didactic education via expert instruction, web-based learning, immersion experiences with interdisciplinary professionals, as well as teaching opportunities with peers and students. Our program will enroll and train one fellow annually.  This program is funded by the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA, the Department of Veterans Health Administration (VHA)) that has oversight for training programs.

The Central Virginia VA Health Care System, located in Richmond , Virginia, is a level 1a 349 bed facility offering primary, secondary and tertiary health care in medicine, surgery, orthopedics, neurology, rehabilitation medicine, intermediate care, acute and sustaining spinal cord injury, skilled nursing home care and palliative care. Richmond is a national referral center for heart, lung and liver transplantations and the medical center as a tertiary care referral center for subspeciality treatment, traumatic brain injury, open-heart surgery, oncology and vascular disease.  The health care system has five community-based outpatient clinics located in Charlottesville, Henrico, Fredericksburg, Emporia and Spotsylvania County, Virginia and a strong beneficial affiliation with the Medical College of Virginia.  Residency and fellowship programs exist in virtually all general and specialty areas of medicine, rehabilitation, surgery, psychiatry, dentistry and ancillary care services. The medical center is the host site for one of five Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers in the VA system of care.


Fellowship Mission Statement

The primary mission of the CVHCS OT Hand Therapy Fellowship Program is to provide the fellow with the knowledge and skills to deliver exceptional care in hand therapy. Through the development of advanced level staff, CVHCS will provide the highest quality care to our nation’s Veterans and develop evidenced-based care plans to enhance the functional abilities of our clients. In addition, the Fellowship program will provide the opportunity for using scholarly activities/opportunities, engagement in collaborative inter-professional and cross sectoral partnerships, and increasing awareness of the unique occupational needs of Veterans and active-duty Service Members. Finally, the Fellowship program will provide an increased number of skilled clinicians in upper extremity rehab which will benefit Veterans by receiving more highly skilled care.

Program Goals

The 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 upper extremity and hand 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.


  • At least 350 to 400 hours of 1-to-1 clinical mentoring
  • 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. 

Fellowship Experience

Fellows can expect to provide hand and upper quarter occupational therapy and receive mentoring across the continuum of care in multiple settings.  The year-long residency will be divided into four 12-week rotations as follows:

1  Quarter 1- Clinical exam/anatomy, Shoulder pathologies, Adaptive Equipment and ADLs, Arthritis and Joint reconstruction

2 Quarter 2 – Orthosis Fabrication, Hand Injury and Sprains, Fractures, Ethics

3 Quarter 3 – Extensor Tendons, Peripheral Nerve Injuries, Tendon Transfers, Wounds and Incisions.

4 Quarter 4- Flexor Tendons, Elbow Injury, Pain Management, Scholarly Project

Weekly experiences will vary through the rotations and will follow a general schedule consisting of:

  • 20 hours direct patient care
  • 3-4 hours 1:1 mentoring
  • 3-4 hours didactic education
  • 4 hours observation
  • 5 hours independent study

Fellowship Requirements

  • To apply for the Hand Therapy Fellowship Program applicants must meet the following criteria:
  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • Be a graduate of an ACOTE accredited occupational therapy program
  • Passed the NBCOT Board examination
  • Possess a license in to practice occupational therapy from any state
  • 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


  • 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

How to Apply

  • Complete online application
  • Application Acceptance:  March, 2023
  • Interviews (onsite/virtual): April, 2023
  • Notification of Acceptance: May 15, 2023
  • Program Begins: September 5, 2023
  • Central Virginia Health Care System OT Hand Therapy and Upper Extremity Fellowship Program Application (PDF) (The link to this form can be found towards the top of the page.)



Deborah Vanderburg, MS, OTR/L, CHT

804-675-5000 ext. 6070


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

804-675-5000 ext. 7342