Hand Surgery Fellowship

Thank you for your interest in the Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Hand, Upper Extremity, and Microvascular Surgery Fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

Our fellowship provides broad clinical training and research opportunities within a wide spectrum of upper extremity surgery, including several areas which are traditionally difficult to receive training in such as microsurgery and an extremely robust experience in complex elbow surgery. Clinical settings are as diverse as the clinical exposure; including time spent at a high-volume tertiary care academic center, a Level I trauma county hospital, and designated congenital hand at a pediatric hospital.

Clinical Experience

Fellows will proceed through three rotations, in the form of an apprenticeship (Dr.’s Mark Cohen, John Fernandez, and Robert Wysocki), where during each rotation the trainee spends consistent time both in the office and the operating room with primarily a single faculty member to maintain effective continuity of care. The design is for each rotation to be performed twice, each for 2 months, as fellows will often have far different experiences and takeaways early versus late in their fellowship year. Throughout the year, there is also dedicated interspersed time with our newest faculty member, Dr. Xavier Simcock, who has completed two distinct hand and shoulder/elbow fellowships.  While the focus of the fellowship remains thorough teaching of nearly the full range of hand, wrist and elbow surgery, the time with Dr. Simcock provides experience in both open and arthroscopic shoulder surgery for those who wish to complement their residency shoulder experience.

Practice settings include office and operative time at Rush University Medical Center and its affiliates, most frequently Gold Coast Surgicenter on the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago, and Rush Oak Brook Surgery Center in the near west suburbs of Chicago. Both are highly efficient and modern facilities which create a high-yield surgical learning environment.

Clinical and surgical Level I Trauma experience is also obtained at John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County.  The fellow is excused from clinical duties at Rush for the entire months of September and June, thus intentionally once early and once late in their year and works full time at Stroger Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Paul Lamberti and his clinical team.

We also provide for dedicated congenital hand experience with Dr. Felicity Fishman at the Shriners Children’s Chicago.  While the amount of time spent at the Shriners facility varies depending on fellow interest, we assure that the fellow spends sufficient time at the facility to meet ACGME expectations for congenital hand exposure.

The diversity in patient population and resources at a private tertiary academic hospital, a county hospital, and a non-for-profit children's hospital will broaden the fellow's experience and teach them to thrive in multiple health care delivery systems, a critical part of the fellow's training.  As a thriving private academic practice, the fellow will also be exposed to an efficient model of orthopedic health care delivery that will hopefully serve them well in the future practice.


It should also be noted that we also take great pride in our fellowship as a single fellowship program.  We strongly believe that the fellow cannot be alone on an island, but instead is incorporated into “the group” either similar to a resident or to an attending.  We strongly work for the latter, encouraging high level thinking and functioning to allow our fellow to hit the ground running as an attending physician upon graduation.  Our academic curriculum is specifically dedicated to function at a fellow level and not just generalized as a conference for all trainees.  All case discussions whether in person in our indications conference, or virtual over text, involve the fellow as one of our faculty.  Clinical and surgical autonomy is commensurate with the expectation that our fellow will be highly functioning upon graduation. As a single position program, our fellow also has full access to each faculty member’s surgical schedules and is encouraged to leave their assigned rotation if there are unique surgical cases to experience with another faculty member.  There is sufficient ancillary support with Physician Assistants that this flexibility is easily supported.  Our surgeons are high volume, with Dr. Cohen completing 800, Dr. Fernandez 1000, Dr. Wysocki 900, and Dr. Simcock 700 cases per year, creating a wealth of case opportunities for our fellow.

Educational Curriculum

The educational curriculum includes a weekly dedicated hand conference attended by each of the faculty on Tuesday evenings, which consists of:

  • First, a topic based resident focused lecture indications conference
  • Second, a topic based fellow specific conference, based on a 50+ topic year-long curriculum covering the entirety of hand, wrist and elbow surgery.  This conference is intended to be Socratic and high-level, covering controversies at a fellow rather than an introductory/resident level.  A reading list is provided covering all topics
  • Third, an indications conference where faculty present their controversial cases from the week where there is still controversy regarding the best treatment path moving forward whether operative or non-operative.  This conference tends to result in lively high-level discussions of the underlying controversies.

There is also the opportunity for cadaveric sessions, depending on fellow preference, as frequently as once per quarter to cover topics such as surgical approaches, flap coverage, and implant placement techniques.  We often collaborate with various implant companies for these cadaver sessions.

Research Opportunities

All fellows will be required to participate in research and collaboration with basic scientists, residents, and students at the medical center are encouraged to help make the research process efficient and productive. We have a dedicated full-time research assistant within our division, typically a 3rd/4th year medical student pursuing orthopedic residency, who can greatly help streamline the research process. Research funds will be available solely for this purpose. Regular bi-monthly research meetings for the hand division will be held to monitor progress, assure regulatory compliance, and troubleshoot potential problems on all active projects.

The Future for Our Fellows

We believe with our combination of strong academic pursuits in an efficient privademic setting, we set our fellows up for success regardless of whether they choose an academic, private practice, or employed model. Nearly half of our graduates thus far, over nearly the last decade of our program’s existence, have chosen an academic career. We believe this speaks to our program’s ability to create a passion for academics and strongly advocate for our fellows who pursue an academic path.

We also work hard to maintain a strong connection with our graduates as professional friends in perpetuity.  This is achieved via yearly dinners at the ASSH annual meeting, and most uniquely through a robust WhatsApp group chat with all faculty and incoming, current and former fellows. This provides the opportunity for primarily robust case discussions where all of us can feel free to share cases and opinions.

In summary, this program is unique in its ability to teach general hand surgery, microsurgery including trauma and reconstruction, as well as congenital hand and surgery of the elbow and shoulder in a high-volume and diverse setting, that will help foster life-long learning, collaboration, and camaraderie.

Applicants must have successfully completed a U.S. or Canadian orthopedic residency prior to the fellowship year and meet the requirements for permanent licensure in Illinois.

To Apply:   The Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Hand, Upper Extremity, and Microvascular Surgery Fellowship at Rush University Medical Center is participating in the American Society for Surgery of the Hand’s (ASSH) electronic application platform.  We will not accept any applications through the mail.  To apply, please go to the ASSH website (https://www.assh.org/applications/s/fellowshiphome).

The deadline for applications is December 15, 2022.  We will conduct interviews in February 2023. Rush Participates in the NRMP Hand Fellowship Specialty Match.  For a Hand Surgery Specialty Match applicant agreement, please go to the website at www.NRMP.org.

For further information or questions, please contact:

Phyllis Velez

Rush University Medical Center

Department of Orthopedic Surgery Education Office Attention: Hand Fellowship

1611 W. Harrison St., Suite 201

Chicago, IL 60612

E-mail:  Phyllis.velez@rushortho.com

Phone: 312-343-7871