Become a Hand Surgeon

Hand surgery is the field of medicine that deals with problems of the hand, wrist and forearm. Hand surgeons care for these problems without surgery, and they are specially trained to operate when necessary. ASSH has programs and information for all stages of becoming a hand surgeon.  Everyone from established member hand surgeons to those early in their careers have a role to play in learning and mentoring others.

Training Requirements

A career in hand surgery begins with a high school diploma, a four year college degree, and completion of medical school.

After medical school, you must attend a residency program, where you will receive clinical training in a specialized area. Training in hand surgery begins with one of the following ACGME accredited residencies:

  • Orthopaedic Surgery (5 years)
  • Plastic Surgery (5-7 years)
  • General Surgery (5 years)
After a residency is successfully completed, hand surgeons complete a one year ACGME accredited fellowship in hand surgery.

Hand surgery fellowship programs cover:

  • Trauma surgery of the hand and wrist, including replantation of severed body parts
  • Congenital differences
  • Microvascular surgery
  • Arthritis surgery (both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis)
  • Reconstructive wrist surgery
  • Peripheral nerve surgery

Certification in the Subspecialty of Surgery of the Hand (formerly CAQ Hand)

Certification in the Subspecialty of Surgery of the Hand (formerly CAQ Hand) is equivalent to board certification in hand surgery. This exam is taken after your fellowship. Learn more.

Job Market for Hand Surgeons

The job market for hand surgery has been stable for many years. There are always more job openings per year than the number of hand surgery fellows who are completing their training. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand website offers a space for job seekers to post resumes, and hand surgeon employers to post positions. Visit the Jobs section to learn more.