Hand Surgery Fellowship

Thank you for your interest in our one year ACGME-accredited Hand Surgery-Microsurgery Fellowship at UCLA. The Hand and Microsurgery Fellowship is a combined program within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  

While our fellows have the opportunity to interact with residents and attendings from both Plastic Surgery and Orthopedic Surgery, they are primarily supervised in clinic and in the operating room by Prosper Benhaim, MD; Kodi Azari, MD; and Scott Mitchell, MD.  They also have independent clinical responsibilities at all four of our UCLA-affiliated hospitals: West Los Angeles VA Hospital, UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center; Shriners Hospital, and Olive View County Medical Center. 

Fellows are responsible for providing residents and medical students clinical and didactic instruction, and are encouraged to take advantage of our facilities for microsurgery training and anatomical dissections. We anticipate that one day per week will be blocked off from clinical responsibilities in order to pursue clinical or basic laboratory research. Learn more about fellowship policies.

Program Structure:

This is a totally combined service between the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at UCLA. There is no alternating trauma call between orthopaedic surgery and plastic surgery. All bony and soft tissue injuries distal to the wrist go to the Hand Surgery Service. Virtually all distal radius fractures go to the Hand Service, as do a large proportion of both bones forearm fractures. Complex combined injuries of the upper extremity and nerve injuries of the upper extremity also go to the Hand Service. The Hand Surgery Service is frequently consulted for Grade III open fractures of the lower extremity.

The Hand Surgery Service consists of:

  • 4 attendings
  • 2 hand surgery fellows
  • Chief Orthopaedic Resident - PGY5 or 6
  • 6 residents alternating every two months
  • Junior Plastic Surgery Resident - PGY6
  • 4 residents alternating every three months
  • Junior Orthopaedic Resident - PGY2 or 3 alternating every month. The junior orthopaedic resident takes care of all of the minor hand trauma in the Emergency Room, including finger tip injuries and initial reduction of wrist and hand fractures. Patients with more severe hand injuries are initially seen by one of the 2 hand residents, with the hand fellow thereafter involved in the operative treatment or in a consultant role. 

Fellowship Goals:

The UCLA hand fellowship is completely integrated between orthopaedic surgery and plastic surgery. There are very few such integrated fellowships in the United States. The fellowship program stresses mentorship, with "one-on-one" relationships between the fellow and faculty. This is in contrast to fellowships where a fellow only spends 1 or 2 months with 6 attendings and does not get to understand the thinking and judgment of an attending. The fellow spends three months with Dr. Meals and then three months with Dr. Benhaim on a repeating cycle, for a total of six months on each of the two services. The attending physicians are effective and patient teachers with numerous awards for their teaching acumen. The attending will take the fellow through surgical procedures, rather than having the fellow "hold hooks", or "reinvent the wheel" at the other extreme. The full spectrum of hand surgery is seen at UCLA, fellows typically don't see too much of the same conditions and nothing is really missed. Fellows will see a wide variety of trauma, post-traumatic reconstructio