Hand Surgery Clinical Research Fellowship

The Hand Surgery Clinical Research Fellowship in the Division of Plastic, Reconstructive and Oral Surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is a 12-month paid fellowship dedicated to pediatric hand outcomes research. Research fellows will have the unique opportunity to work alongside plastic and orthopaedic hand surgeons at CHOP to promote research in congenital upper limb differences, pediatric hand trauma, and other pertinent topics in clinical hand surgery. Research fellows are generally medical students who desire a U.S. residency position in plastic surgery or orthopaedic surgery.

The fellowship offers one position per fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). This is a funded position uniquely designed for students interested in plastic, reconstructive and oral surgery and orthopaedic surgery. As one of the top ranked programs in the nation for pediatric care, research hand fellows at CHOP will have a substantial edge over their peers.

Research responsibilities

The Hand Surgery Clinical Research Fellow’s responsibilities include developing hypotheses, writing grant proposals and IRB protocols, gathering data, performing anatomical dissections, performing statistical analyses, consenting patients for research, maintaining surgeon REDCap databases, and writing manuscripts for publication.

Although no formal bio-statistical or clinical research training is funded through the research fellowship, the Hand Surgery Clinical Research Fellows gain on-the-job training from residents and previous hand research fellows who are accomplished academic researchers in plastic surgery. The fast-paced environment and abundance of practical training leaves Hand Surgery Clinical Research Fellows with a robust knowledge of the current state of academic literature in pediatric hand surgery, as well as an ability to effectively analyze data in the literature, develop new ideas, and learn bio-statistical analysis.

Throughout the year, the Hand Research Fellow will primarily work under the direction of Dr. Shaun Mendenhall on clinical research projects. The Hand Research Fellow will also assist on projects with hand surgeons Dr. Benjamin Chang, Dr. Ines Lin, Dr. Apurva Shah, and Dr. Robert Carrigan. Many of the projects will be submitted to high-impact plastic surgery, orthopaedic surgery, and hand surgery journals. A primary goal of the hand research fellowship is to learn to create reproducible and scientifically valid data in a collaborative environment, thereby setting the foundation for many of the skills needed throughout an academic career.

Clinical opportunities

The Hand Surgery Clinical Research Fellow is invited to be an active participant in the outpatient clinical program in the Division of Plastic, Reconstructive and Oral Surgery. At weekly outpatient clinics, they may observe how to manage congenital upper limb differences and hand trauma cases. They are also welcome to shadow in the operating room at CHOP and affiliated sites. 

Fellows are also strongly encouraged to participate in continuing education by attending:

  • Didactic lectures
  • Weekly case presentation conferences
  • Plastic surgery grand rounds at the University of Pennsylvania every Thursday morning
  • Quarterly clinical research club attended by all faculty, students, residents and fellows

Prerequisites for applying

  • Students must be completing their third year of medical school in the United States. Under unique circumstances, uniquely qualified students finishing their first or second year of medical school in the United States, or other outstanding applicants may be considered. 
  • The medical student must have successfully completed the USMLE STEP 1 exam. A PDF of the STEP 1 score or Pass/Fail score as well as STEP 2 score (if completed) will be required.
  • The applicant must be in good academic standing and have an interest in plastic and/or orthopaedic surgery.
  • References for obtaining two letters of recommendation. One letter should be from a plastic and reconstructive surgeon or orthopaedic surgeon.
  • Applicants will be responsible, intellectually curious, honest, hardworking, independent, motivated, and embody team collaboration.

Award stipend

The successful candidate will receive a modest stipend to help cover living expenses for the year, as well as some travel expenses to national meetings if presenting podium presentations.

How to apply

Candidates who wish to apply for the July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025 fellowship period are invited to submit your application beginning October 1, 2023. The deadline to apply is December 1, 2023.

Submit your application. 

To apply for the Hand Surgery Clinical Research Fellowship, submit your application Please refer to the below questions if you need some guidance for your personal statement, but do not limit yourself to answering just these questions. Please keep personal statements to one page.

  • What do you hope to get out of this fellowship?
  • What experience do you think has prepared you for this?
  • What skills do you possess?
  • Why are you a stronger candidate than others?
  • What are your career goals?

If you have any questions regarding the application process, please do not hesitate to contact us at PlasticsResearch@chop.edu.

Kindly do not email our surgeons regarding your application process.


We interview eligible applicants between January and early February.

Other requirements

To carry out its mission, it is of critical importance for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to keep our patients, families and workforce safe and healthy and to support the health of our global community. In keeping with this, CHOP has mandated all workforce members (including trainees) on site at any CHOP location for any portion of their time be vaccinated for COVID-19. This mandate also applies to workforce members or trainees providing patient care at non-CHOP locations. CHOP also requires all workforce members and trainees who work in patient care buildings or who provide patient care are required to receive an annual influenza vaccine. Candidates other than those in positions with regularly scheduled hours in New Jersey, must attest to not using tobacco products. Employees may request exemptions to any CHOP vaccine requirement for religious and medical reasons.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, protected veteran status or any other protected category. CHOP is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor seeking priority referrals for protected veterans.

CHOP is committed to building an inclusive culture where employees feel a sense of belonging, connection, and community within their workplace. We are a team dedicated to fostering an environment that allows for all to be their authentic selves. We are focused on attracting, cultivating, and retaining diverse talent who can help us deliver on our mission to be a world leader in the advancement of healthcare for children.

We strongly encourage all candidates of diverse backgrounds and lived experiences to apply.

Current Hand Research Fellows

Past Hand Research Fellows

  • Emily M. Graham, MD, was the 2021-2022 Hand Surgery Research Fellow at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She is now a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Resident at the University of Michigan. Recent publications >
  • Niki K. Patel, MD, MSc, was the 2022-2023 Hand Surgery Research Fellow at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She is now a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Resident at West Virginia University. Recent publications >

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