During the term of Past President Robert Szabo, the two-year upper extremity fellowship program was established. Funding for these fellowships was obtained through the generous support of three of our industry partners, Stryker, Medartis, and Auxilium. As would be expected, there were more programs interested in the fellowships than could be funded, hence a selection process was necessary.
Towards that goal, Council created the HULFG (Hand and Upper Extremity Fellowship Grant) Review Board. The board was charged with selecting the initial sites for the pilot two-year fellowship program. In selecting the board, it was critical that it be a non-conflicted body; no board members could be part of a program that was submitting an application. Appointees included: Fred Fakharzadeh, MD, Chair (AFSH President), David Lichtman, MD (RRC Information), John Seiler, MD (Former ABOS Board President), and Donald Lalonde, MD (ABPS Board President).
It was critically important that the HULFG develop a review process that was unbiased, transparent, and fair. The HULFG reviewed the program application form, which had been developed by the Training Advisory Group (TAG), and identified the key factors to use to review the programs. All of the evaluation criteria were placed into broader categories. We then discussed how to best score and weight each of the sections, understanding that some of the criteria were more critical than others.
Applications were gathered and distributed to the HULFG board members for independent reviews. In addition to the applications, an abbreviated CV was requested from each program director, and staff attached the accreditation status report for each program from the ACGME website. Score sheets were completed and submitted to the Central Office, where they were tabulated. The results were given to the group, which then met via conference call to discuss which programs should receive funding. Nine programs had applied, and funding was available for four. The four programs selected were Cleveland Clinic, Columbia, Philadelphia Hand Center, and Stanford. Congratulations to all four of these programs.
However, the responsibilities of the HULFG Review Board do not end with program selection. The HULFG will evaluate follow-up reports submitted by the programs, provide suggestions to the Training Advisory Group (TAG) on improvements to the application so as to strengthen the evaluation process, advise fellowship directors on the evaluation process in application years, and report to ASSH Council and the AFSH Board on the progress of the two-year fellowship programs. We look forward to the advent of the two-year fellowships in 2013 and tracking their progress.