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The UAB hand fellowship provides comprehensive training in hand, upper extremity, and microvascular surgery during a one-year ACGME accredited hand surgery fellowship program.

It is a unique program in its clinical breadth and flexibility for fellows to tailor the program to their weaknesses and interests. This includes experience in level-I acute trauma, sub-acute and chronic conditions from traumatic and chronic injury, diseases of aging, soft tissue injury and rheumatic or autoimmune conditions. The fellowship is a true upper extremity surgical fellowship that includes shoulder and elbow for interested fellows.

Fellows have the opportunity to work with Division I collegiate athletes as well as local professional sports teams. There is significant collaboration and clinical time spent at Andrews Sports Medicine throughout the year. Adult and pediatric brachial plexus is addressed with thoracic outlet clinic at Highlands Hospital, as well as pediatric brachial plexus clinic at the Children’s of Alabama Hospital. Fellows spend time at the premiere children's hospital in the state and level-I trauma center, Children's of Alabama. Here, children's hand injuries, fractures, wide variety of congenital malformations, and complex brachial plexus injuries are seen regularly.

It is your education, take control of the experience

Fellows participate in all aspects of patient care — in clinics, the operating room and, on occasion, the emergency room. There are weekly educational conferences, monthly journal clubs, and all fellows are sent to a formal microvascular training course at the start of fellowship. Quarterly cadaver labs on various rolling topics are held at Andrew's Sports Medicine Institute. Fellows regularly attend the ASSH meeting as well as the local State Orthopaedic Surgery Meeting. Fellows are encouraged to attend additional relevant meetings of their choice.

Clinical and/or lab research is also available to round out the experience. Fellows regularly collaborate with residents on research projects and have the availability of an animal lab, biomechanics lab, cadaver lab and any other resources UAB has to offer. A Hand Surgery Research Group meets monthly to coordinate and implement ongoing research projects with fellows, residents and medical students. 

The program is integrated with the Residency in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Division of Plastic Surgery. This includes the option to spend time with any plastic surgeon at UAB, if desired, to increase exposure to soft tissue handling techniques, flap reconstruction and microsurgery cases. There are three, two-month rotations in distinctly different settings ranging from academic to private practice.

Significant time is also spent learning the nuances of being a successful hand surgeon in a private orthopedic practice. This includes time at Andrews Sports Medicine at St. Vincents Hospital. and with the Southlake Orthopedics Group at Grandview Hospital. Each hand fellow has the opportunity to see each setting twice. Fellows also have the flexibility to tailor their fellowship experience to their specific interests during the second rotation.

Fellowship Experience Highlights:

  • All fellows attend a microsurgery course at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN)
  • Fellows can attend multiple industry courses and labs of their chosing for fracture and nerve injury technique exposure
  • All fellows attend Annual ASSH Hand Meeting
  • Cadaver labs hosted quarterly at Andrews Sports Medicine 
  • Monthly journal clubs at various locations around Birmingham
  • Exposure to both private practice hand surgery and academic practices
  • Strong emphasis on self-directed learning with high degree of fellow autonomy with patient management and in operating room

Rotation Locations

  • UAB Hospital

    At this busy Level 1 Trauma Center, fellows gain valuable experience in severe traumatic injuries including the mangled hand, plastic surgery coverage of the upper extremity and replantation. Fellows work with Dr. Karlee Lau Loftin, Dr. Erin Ransom, and Dr. Rachel Aliotta regularly but also have the opportunity to work with trauma faculty including Dr. Clay Spitler and Dr. Johnathan Quade if they have a special interest in shoulder or elbow trauma. Fellows also have the opportunity to work with the Plastic Surgery Division surgeons, as well as Dr. James Hwang in general surgery reconstructive burn care on select cases on an elective basis.

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  • UAB Hospital Highlands

    UAB Hospital Highlands is the heart of the fellowship where the majority of rotations occur. This includes a wide variety of rotation experiences including shoulder and elbow training with Drs. Will Brabston. Fellows rotate with Dr. Rachel Aliotta and Dr. Karlee Lau Loftin, who treats a wide variety of hand conditions including traumatic injuries, tendon transfers and microsurgical work. Fellows will also gain experience treating nerve conditions including thoracic outlet syndrome, brachial plexus injuries, nerve repair and transfer, as well as tendon transfer for nerve conditions with Drs. Richard Meyer and Erin Ransom. UAB Hospital Highlands also includes a hand therapy practice within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and fellows have the opportunity to work with hand therapists throughout their clinic experience.

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  • Children's of Alabama
    Children's of Alabama is a Level 1 state-designated trauma facility and its expertise draws patients from throughout Alabama and neighboring states. Fellows will gain experience in congenital conditions and pediatric trauma with Dr. Erin Ransom. Fellows will also participate in a multidisciplinary brachial plexus clinic and work with Drs. Richard Meyer and Erin Ransom in reconstructive surgeries.

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  • Andrews Sport Medicine and Orthopaedic Center
    Andrews Sport Medicine and Orthopaedic Center is a well known and respected privademic practice located in Birmingham, Alabama. Fellows will work with Dr. Kathleen McKeon in a private practice setting to learn the principles of hand surgery, the business side of medicine, as well as the care of elite athletes with hand injuries.

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  • Southlake Orthopaedics
    Southlake Orthopaedics is a well respected private practice located in Birmingham, Alabama. Fellows work with Dr. Ekkehard Bonatz, who has been faculty for the fellowship for over 20 years. Fellows see a variety of pathology and have the opportunity to learn about the management of a hand practice in a private practice setting.

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Meet the Faculty

  • Ekkehard Bonatz, M.D., Ph.D.

    Ekkehard Bonatz, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Rachel Aliotta, M.D.

    Rachel Aliotta, M.D.

  • Karlee Lau Loftin, M.D.

    Karlee Lau Loftin, M.D.

  • Kathleen E. McKeon, M.D.

    Kathleen E. McKeon, M.D.

  • Richard Meyer, M.D.

    Richard Meyer, M.D.

  • Erin Ransom, M.D.

    Erin Ransom, M.D.

  • Joseph Sherrill, M.D.

    Joseph Sherrill, M.D.

  • Ronit Wollstein, M.D.

    Ronit Wollstein, M.D.

    Application Process

    Graduates of this ACGME-approved program In Orthopaedic Surgery and Plastic Surgery are eligible for CAQ certification. Three fellowship positions are offered each year; they must be eligible for Alabama licensure, DEA and have passed Step 3 of the USMLE.

    Interested applicants should contact Program Coordinator Rebecca Kuykendall at rikuykendall@uabmc.edu.