James P. Higgins, MD
Chief of Hand Surgery

We have matched our positions for the 2016 – 2017 year. We are currently accepting applications for the 2017 – 2018 year.  Each year we receive over 100 applications for the four accredited positions, and approximately 30-35 prospective candidates are interviewed.

Our program offers training in assessment and management of common and complex hand and upper extremity injuries. A combined staff of 13 orthopedic and plastic surgeons offers an eclectic approach to the treatment of hand and upper extremity conditions. Fellows have an opportunity to work with all of the attending staff during the fellowship.

Combining all of the attending surgeons’ practices allows each fellow to have clinical and surgical exposure to patients with disorders of the entire upper extremity from the shoulder to the fingertips. Plastic surgery residents from Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities, orthopedic surgery residents from MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, and hand/upper extremity fellows from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda rotate on the service and work closely with our fellows and attending staff. Fellows rotate in the National Hand Specialists Clinic with the attending staff.

The clinic attracts an array of hand and upper extremity disorders. Each fellow has his/her own clinic one-half day per week which is staffed by a nurse, a hand therapist, and typically one of our physician’s assistants. Fellows also have their own shared surgical block time. For the first 3 months of the fellowship all surgical cases are staffed by one of the attending surgeons. An attending surgeon must be present for at least a portion of every surgery that the fellow performs. After the initial 3 months the hand center’s Clinical Competency Committee meets in late October to determine if the fellows have graduated to the point where they are prepared to have independent operating privileges, with the understanding that the attending staff is available for further advice and assistance as needed.

The teaching program includes daily conferences, lectures, and/or surgical labs covering all aspects of hand and upper extremity surgery including microsurgery, anatomy, pathology, surgical indications, surgical techniques, and hand/upper extremity rehabilitation. Fellows have access to our Surgical Techniques and Technologies Cadaver Lab (STAT Lab) and our microsurgery lab for educational and research purposes.

Congenital clinic and journal clubs are conducted monthly. A combined shoulder & elbow conference is held bimonthly and includes residents, fellows, and attendings from the Curtis National Hand Center and the MedStar Union Memorial Orthopedic & Sports Surgery and Shoulder & Elbow services. Clinical categories are well balanced in upper extremity trauma, microsurgery, posttraumatic reconstruction, arthritic conditions, neurological disorders, congenital conditions, and other disorders. Fellows gain pediatric and congenital hand/upper extremity experience by participating in a one month rotation to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, during which housing is provided.

Each fellow is required to complete a research project in clinical or laboratory research. All research projects are funded by MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. If a planned project exceeds the budget of the hospital’s available grants there are other funding opportunities available in MedStar and other research foundations for which the hand center’s research team will help during the application process. The results of the research are presented to a distinguished hand surgeon during our annual visiting professorship. Results are typically submitted to high-quality peer-reviewed hand/upper extremity, orthopedic, and/or plastic surgery journals for publication consideration.

Twice a year a surgical team is sent to the Dominican Republic to work in Centro Medico Central Romana, an 82 bed hospital dedicated to serving the needs of the local community. Centro Medico donates the services of the entire hospital to the upper extremity surgery needs of the community during the biannual visit. This program prepares Fellows to be skillful hand surgeons for private practice and academics. Fellows typically have independent but supervised surgical privileges for the mission. Soon after the fellowship begins, Dr. Michael Murphy will ask if any fellows wish to volunteer for this opportunity. This is an entirely voluntary mission but is typically highly sought after by the fellows.

All fellows have their own private offices with a computer and printer. Fellows receive a book and digital camera allowance.  Fellows are provided travel and lodging expenses for one hand/upper extremity conference during the year. Furthermore, if a fellow’s research project is presented at a conference within one year of their graduation, they will also receive travel and lodging expenses for that conference.

  • This fellowship is ACGME accredited.
  • This fellowship participates in the match program.
  • The deadline for completed applications is December 16.

For more information on fellowships at The Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, contact Tori Wilson, Program Coordinator, at 410-554-6593, or email her at [email protected]