What Kind Of Training Should Your Hand Surgeon Have?

When you put the health and functionality of your hands and wrists into someone else’s hands, you might feel uneasy or uncomfortable; they are your most important tool, after all.

So what kind of training does it take to become a doctor who is qualified to care for the hands of America?

There is a daunting checklist of qualifications and certifications that must be completed. Keep reading and your uneasiness will surely subside.

Hand Surgery

This is a field of medicine that deals with issues in the hands, wrists, and forearms. Hand surgeons are trained to treat injuries and conditions of the hands, wrists, and forearms without surgery if at all possible. They are specially trained to operate, but only when absolutely necessary.

Training Requirements


The first step to becoming a qualified hand and wrist surgeon is earning a high school diploma. Of course, the next step is completing an undergraduate program and earning a degree. Following this certification, a future hand specialist must complete medical school.

Like any other medical degree, hand specialists must attend a residency program following medical school. This is where med school graduates receive clinical training in a specialized field. Aspiring hand surgeons will complete their residency in one of these American Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited areas of study:

  • Orthopedic surgery (5 years)
  • Plastic surgery (5-7 years)
  • General surgery (5 years)

Residency and Fellowship

Training continues after the completion of a corresponding residency program. Following the 5-7 years of residency, potential hand surgeons must complete a year-long ACGME accredited fellowship.

These fellowship programs cover the entire spectrum of hand, wrist, and forearm surgical procedures. This is where the surgeons undergo specialized, intensive training that includes:

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

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Now that you know the kind of training that your physician has undergone, you might feel a little more at ease about putting your care in their hands. However, it is of outmost importance that you talk to your hand specialist before any surgical procedure and ask any questions you might have about the actual procedure, as well as their training.

You might need to visit a hand surgeon if you are suffering from hand, wrist, and/or forearm pain or discomfort, such as numbness or tingling. They will be better suited to give you a proper diagnosis for your ailments because they are specially trained to recognize and treat hand, wrist, and forearm health problems.


  • Hand surgeons treat issues in the hands, wrists, and forearms surgically and non-surgically.
  • After medical school, aspiring hand surgeons have to go through 5-7 years of residency, followed by the completion of a fellowship where they are trained in the entire spectrum of hand, wrist, and forearm surgical procedures.
  • When visiting a hand surgeon, don’t be afraid to ask questions about their training, as well as the surgical procedures you might need to undergo.