At ARC Physical Therapy+, we are committed to being a leader in the hand therapy space. One way we show that commitment is through our Certified Hand Therapy Fellowship Program.
We’ve shared details about the origins of the program before (read more and watch our video here). Today, we take a deeper dive and talk to a few of our occupational therapists who are currently in the program.
What is a Certified Hand Therapist?
A Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an occupational or physical therapist who has advanced training in the evaluation and treatment of the upper extremity: the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder. Read more about CHTs here.
What is the CHT Fellowship Program?
In the CHT Fellowship program, occupational therapists work towards their certification under the guidance of a Certified Hand Therapist. The program includes:
- Real world experience working with employers, physicians, and patients under the guidance of an experienced CHT
- Observing local surgeons in both their clinic practice and in the operating room, so fellows can see the surgery performed on patients they will treat
- Gaining an appreciation for the surgeons critical decision-making process and teaching therapists to become critical decision makers themselves
- Providing the 4,000 hours of direct practice in hand therapy needed to become a CHT
- Training the therapist to successfully pass the comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation to become a CHT
The program teaches the fellows how to meet the goals of all parties involved to accomplish an excellent outcome, meeting job demands or personal goals in a timely manner.
Why is the Fellowship Program Important?
Matt Cummings, OTR/L, CHT and Fellowship Program Coordinator, explains:
“Due to the high expectation of rehab excellence in the hand therapy community, it is becoming more and more difficult to enter the market and excel as a hand therapist without experience, as our new grads are discovering. The ARC Physical Therapy+ Hand Therapy Fellowship program offers an opportunity for those without experience to meet the time requirements needed to sit for the CHT exam all the while working side-by-side with experienced CHTs that are already established in the market.”
What are the Goals for Fellows and Graduates?
“For our current fellows, we hope they understand more than how to provide great treatment for the upper extremity; to understand underlying treatment methodology needed to think critically through every case and always select the best option of care. For our graduates, we hope they can stand independently after the process as strong CHTs that provide great care and help drive the direction of hand therapy in our marketplace. This hope is also dependent on the goal of passing the CHT examination to receive credentials that set them apart as a specialist in the community,” Matt Cummings shares.
A Conversation with Current Fellowship Participants: Lucy Randolph, OTR/L and Hannah Page, OTR/L
Why did you decide to join the CHT Fellowship Program?
“When I was a student, I completed a 3-month rotation with ARC Physical Therapy+. My clinic instructor had been through the CHT Fellowship Program and spoke very highly of it. As I went through my rotation, my interest grew for working with the upper extremity in the outpatient field. It was exciting, but it was also intimidating, because this is more of a specialty area for OTs. I knew if I wanted to work in this field and go on to become a CHT that this fellowship program would be the best opportunity for me to succeed.”
“When in OT school I always knew I wanted to be a Certified Hand Therapist. This was set into stone when I had the opportunity to place splints on an 11-month old child who was on the operating table. Those splints gave the child the opportunity to use his hands to grasp toys, bottles, and utensils and seeing that impact sold me on becoming a CHT. The ARC Physical Therapy+ Fellowship Program is a perfect opportunity to grow my skills and understanding as a CHT.”
What are you most excited about learning as part of the program?
“Just about everything! I think I’m most excited about observing more surgeries. I was able to observe a few as a student and I think it’s fascinating. It gives you a better understanding of what you’re treating and how to approach it.”
“ARC Physical Therapy+ has the best group of CHTs I have ever met. They all are invested in teaching and guiding OTs if they need help. The thing that I love the most about this program is having the opportunity to learn about different treatment styles. Each one of our CHTs has their own way to go about treatments. I love learning each CHTs “style” while producing one of my own.”
As a participant in the CHT Fellowship Program, what has been the most valuable lesson so far?
“That it’s ok to not have all of the answers! I would love to be able to answer all of my patient’s questions or concerns immediately, but I’m still learning and often times I have to tell my patients that I don’t know the answer. It was an uncomfortable feeling at first, but I’ve found that in most cases, patients are ok with this as long as I take the time to find out more information and get back to them with answers.”
“I would say the most valuable lesson I have learned is treating the person and not the pathology. In CHT we are extremely detailed, but it is always key to zoom out and look at the big picture in treating an individual. There are a lot of different elements to people and you need to make sure you are able to hit all of those elements in order to provide the best care possible.”
Contact Us to Learn More
If you are interested in learning more about our Fellowship Program or our Certified Hand Therapy offerings, call us at 844-755-4272.