When seeking specialized care for an injury or illness, providers will tell you it is important to seek consult from a Fellowship trained physician. But why are Fellowships important to the physician experience and your medical care? This blog will discuss what Physician Fellowships are, why they’re important and we’ll give you an inside look at what the new Michigan Surgery Specialists Hand Surgery Fellowship is all about!
What are Fellowships?
Medical Fellowship Programs are additional training doctors receive after medical school to become specialized in a particular area. These subspecialty programs typically last 1-2 years and allow the physician to become more familiar with all types of injuries, illnesses and practices within that given specialty. There are a wide variety of medical routes that offer Fellowship Programs for physicians to receive specialized training, including (but not limited to): Oncology, Radiology, Urology, Critical Care, Geriatrics and of course, Hand Surgery.
Why do physicians attend a Fellowship?
Physicians who wish to attend a Fellowship Program do so in order to become experts in a particular field, making them more qualified to treat specific types of patients. Since Fellowships are specific to a treatment area, not all doctors can participate in any Fellowship Program. For example: physicians who are interested in a Hand Surgery Fellowship Program must have completed their residency in either Orthopedic Surgery, Plastic Surgery or General Surgery since those are routes that would feed into the Hand Surgery subspecialty. Attending a Hand Surgery Fellowship allows the physician to focus on the complexities of the hand and upper extremity, gaining more experience treating those types of injuries and illnesses. Ultimately, this makes them more marketable and more skilled to treat such conditions than a surgeon who did not receive Fellowship training in Hand Surgery.
Providing, quality, expert care to our patients is important to our practice. That’s why, all of the physicians at Michigan Surgery Specialists are Fellowship trained in their specialty.
Choosing a Fellowship Institution
Once a physician decides on a particular Fellowship path, they need to apply to Fellowship Programs through various institutions. Fellowship are accredited through the ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education), which puts the sponsoring institution through a rigorous accreditation process to ensure that graduates of the program receive the best training and exposure possible. Most Fellowship Institutions are part of what is called a “Match” in order to help filter through applicants. The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is the matching program used among most subspecialties, including Hand Surgery. Applicants apply to particular programs based on their location, specialty focus, instructors, program reputation and more. However, the act of being matched up with an institution involves a lot more than just an application. According to the NRMP:
“A Match allows applicants and program directors to consider each other without pressure, creates an impartial venue for matching applicants’ and program directors’ preferences, and establishes a uniform date for appointments to programs. A Match also fosters fairness in the selection process by ensuring all participants comply with the policies governing the Match and produces convenient applicant, program, and specialty-specific data. Through SMS Fellowship Matches, applicants are “matched” to programs using the rank order lists of applicants and program directors that are processed by the NRMP matching algorithm.”
What is the MSS Hand Surgery Fellowship like?
Did you know that Michigan Surgery Specialists has our own Fellowship Program!?
We have collaborated with Ascension St. John Hospital to form the St. John Hand Surgery Fellowship Program, which became accredited by the ACGME in April, 2021. Unlike some other Hand Surgery Fellowships that are strictly hospital based, our program gives physicians the unique perspective of treating patients in a hospital setting as well as a private practice. Through the yearlong program, Fellows gain experience treating injuries and illnesses of the hand, wrist, forearm and elbow in a variety of community settings and they will receive hands on training with different age groups ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics.
Throughout the year, our Fellows will rotate through several of our clinic locations, giving them exposure to different communities, demographics and cultures. Fellows will also work alongside multiple physicians within our practice. Other Hand Surgery Fellowships may have 3-5 physician mentors. In our program, Fellows will learn from more than 15 physicians between our practice and the collaborating hospital systems! The mentorship at MSS will allow Fellows to learn from specialists of all three leading backgrounds (Orthopedics, General Surgery and Plastic Surgery), ranging from veteran physicians with decades of experience, to newer associates who are more familiar with new tech savvy approaches. Another benefit to our program is that our practice also houses Orthopedic and Sports Medicine physicians who are available for consult if the Fellow is looking for a different approach to upper extremity care.
Fellows who complete the program will learn tried and true surgical techniques, as well as the more conservative, non-surgical options for patients. When fellows are not in clinic, they receive training at local area hospitals for surgical experience, ER exposure and more specialized care practices. The program includes a month long rotation through DMC Children’s Hospital, giving the Fellow exposure to pediatric care and congenital cases that they might not see anywhere else.
To learn more about our Fellowship Program or if you are a physician interested in apply to our program in the future, please visit the Fellowship page of our website!