Hand and Upper Extremity Fellowship

About Our Fellowship


Our fellowship’s mission is to train the next generation of leaders in hand surgery. We provide a comprehensive program aimed at producing thoughtful and technically proficient surgeons who are well-prepared for various practice environments. Our distinguished faculty have a remarkable history of mentoring and supporting our alumni in their future practice, leadership and research endeavors.

Program Details

  • Co-Directors: Brent R. DeGeorge Jr., MD, PhD, and Aaron M. Freilich, MD
  • Accreditation: ACGME-accredited program with 2 fellows in each class
  • Eligibility: Open to trainees completing residency training in plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery
  • Duration: Fellowship runs from August 1 to July 31 of each academic year

Application Process: All fellowship spots are filled through the National Resident Match Programs, and applications must be submitted via the ASSH Fellowship System.

Application Deadline: Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Interview Dates:

  • Friday, January 26, 2024
  • Friday, February 2, 2024

Why is UVA Hand and Microsurgery Unique

The collaboration between the Orthopedic and Plastic Surgery Departments at the University of Virginia is unique.  This is exemplified by our seamless teamwork in three key areas: complex hand, wrist and forearm trauma, brachial plexus and peripheral nerve surgery, and vascularized bone reconstruction.

Our fellowship offers an unparalleled breadth and depth of clinical experience.

Our faculty members are internationally recognized for their expertise in various subspecialty areas, including:

  • Arthroscopy: wrist, elbow, and small joint arthroscopy
  • Joint arthroplasty: total wrist, elbow, DRUJ, and small joint arthroplasty
  • Upper and lower extremity soft-tissue coverage: microvascular and non-microsurgical reconstruction
  • Elbow surgery: fracture care, arthroscopy, and arthritis management
  • Sports surgery: arthroscopy, wrist and elbow instability
  • Peripheral nerve and brachial plexus surgery: nerve transfers, nerve grafting, tendon transfers, and free functioning muscle transfers
  • Tetraplegia surgery: tendon transfers, nerve transfers, and bony reconstruction
  • Ultrasound-based procedures: minimally invasive procedures
  • Amputee surgery: targeted muscle reinnervation and neuromodulation
  • Pediatric hand surgery

This clinical expertise is complemented by a shared passion for service and research, demonstrated through domestic and international research missions, leadership in regional and national societies, research grants, and publications.

State of the Art Musculoskeletal Center

The new 200,000 square foot UVA Health Orthopedic Center, which opened in 2022, is the new home for UVA Hand Surgery. It is one of the largest outpatient centers in the nation.  The center brings the full range of orthopedic and musculoskeletal care services under one roof, including but not limited to physical / occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthotics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, electrodiagnostic testing, and musculoskeletal radiology.

Our Approach to Hand Surgery Education

Our fellowship’s educational approach is rooted in teamwork and collaboration.  Plastic Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery faculty have a track-record of unparalleled collegiality and partnership.  Fellows are paired with faculty in multi-specialty teams (DeGeorge/Freilich/Dacus or Chhabra/Peek/Deal/Behar) for 3-month rotations, repeated twice during the training year.

These rotations provide exposure to outpatient clinic, ambulatory, and main OR surgical procedures, with increasing, but supervised autonomy granted over the course of the year. On average, our fellows complete approximately 1000 cases during the year, placing them in the top 25% of all ACGME-accredited hand fellowships. Areas of high case volume include hand, wrist, and elbow fractures/dislocations, peripheral nerve surgery/microsurgery, arthritis-related procedures, and wrist/elbow arthroscopy.

We foster a culture of continuous learning with weekly hand specialty-specific conferences, including faculty, resident, and fellow-led didactic lectures, anatomy dissections, journal clubs, case discussions, and research conferences. Additional conferences focus on focused topics in brachial plexus surgery and radiology. Cadaveric dissections are integral to our educational approach and are offered as part of various courses, including microsurgery, flap, brachial plexus/peripheral nerve, arthroscopy, and arthroplasty courses.

Our faculty’s expertise extends to clinical, basic science, and translational research. Each fellow is expected to complete one research project and one quality improvement project during the fellowship year, with opportunities for involvement in multiple ongoing research efforts.

Monthly hand surgery divisional research meetings provide a platform for project discussions, and fellows receive support in submitting resident and fellow fast track grant applications. They benefit from access to clinical research coordinators, active specialty medical student interest groups, and faculty guidance.

Microsurgery Training

Fellows receive in-depth microsurgery training at the UVA Microsurgery Skills Acquisition Lab, including an initial focused course, access to microsurgery training simulators, and home-use instruments.

Preparing the Next Generation of Hand Surgeons

We actively encourage fellows to apply for committee positions within the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Our program provides funding for fellows to attend the full American Society for Surgery of the Hand Annual Meeting. Additionally, fellows have the opportunity to participate in a one-week focused traveling fellowship abroad at one of our pre-selected partner institutions.

Our alumni have established practices throughout the United States, encompassing academic, private practice, hospital-employed, and hybrid models. Upon graduation, fellows join the UVA Hand Surgery Alumni association, which boasts over 100 academic and private practice hand surgeons.

A Spirit of Giving

Faculty participate actively in international and domestic surgical and educational mission trips. Fellows are encouraged to participate in these missions alongside faculty mentors.  Previous mission trip destinations include, but are not limited to Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, and Romania. Faculty actively participate and serve as team leaders for the American Society for Surgery of the Hand Touching Hands.

Answering the Call

Fellows take call with both Orthopedic and Plastic Surgery faculty only at UVA Health.  Fellows do not have primary call responsibility during the day or night.  UVA Health is a comprehensive medical center with over 600 beds, over 30 main and 12 ambulatory operating rooms, making it one of the largest in the region, and holds the designation of a Level I trauma center and regional replantation / revascularization center.

Compensation and Benefits

  • Compensation: Stipend levels are determined annually by the University of Virginia Graduate Medical Education (GME) Consortium. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the stipend level for a PGY-6 trainee is approximately $78,119 (plus benefits) or $3,004 bi-weekly.
  • Benefits: Clinical fellows at the University of Virginia receive a standardized benefits package as outlined by the GME consortium. Child care services are available at three UVA-affiliated daycare facilities. For specific childcare-related inquiries, please refer to parental resources on the GME website. Fellows also receive a $2,500 education fund to support the purchase of additional educational travel, article processing fees, educational materials, or loopes.

Our Faculty

Click the Link for a Video

Bobby Chhabra

Lillian T. Pratt Distinguished Professor and Chair

Professor, Orthopedic Surgery

Rashard Dacus

Vice Chair for Diversity and Wellness

Professor, Orthopedic Surgery

Nicole Deal

Professor, Orthopedic Surgery

Aaron M. Freilich

Fellowship Co-Director

Associate Professor, Orthopedic Surgery

Brent R. DeGeorge Jr.

Fellowship Co-Director

Associate Professor, Plastic Surgery

Brittany J. Behar

Assistant Professor, Plastic Surgery

Kacy J. Peek

Assistant Professor, Orthopedic Surgery

More Information