From Doctors Without Borders in Jordan to Virtual Hand to Shoulder Fellowship

By Noor AlKhateeb

Occupational Therapist

Virtual Hand to Shoulder Fellow ‘21

I would like to start by introducing myself, I’m an occupational therapist from Jordan, in the middle east, I work with Doctors Without Borders in a surgical reconstructive project for war wounded patients, but this is not where my story as an occupational therapist begins.

After I graduated from the university, I began working with the pediatric population. While I enjoyed my work, it did not align with my dreams of being a hand therapist. So, as soon as the opportunity of working with a rehabilitation team in the hospital arose, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. However, although I worked with an experienced physiotherapy team, some challenges started to occur. Despite that it had been five years since my graduation, I was far from having the needed hand therapy experience and knowledge. There were many gaps in my work, missing information during my assessment, focusing on the functional exercises without a real understanding of the underlying issue, biomechanics, or healing timeline, nor the prediction of the prognosis for each case. I also could not find the terms for proper communication, which made me frustrated due to the slow progress of patients, and my interventions seemed vague, focusing on exercises that I was unable to determine why the patient could not perform in the correct pattern.

So, as I started exploring more on hand therapy and I learned about the certified hand therapist credential, I was determined on improving my skills. I started to take on online courses, studying more, reading from different resources until I found out about Mirella, and the virtual fellowship she is providing. Virtual Hand to Shoulder Fellowship combined all of what I needed, the knowledge, the mentorship, evidence-based practice, hand surgeons giving lectures and explaining surgical procedures, and the science behind choosing rehabilitation protocols, and the needed critical thinking skills.

The program is very well organized and guides you step by step starting with the basics of anatomy, biomechanics, soft tissue, and bone healing, and then covering many different diagnoses from surgical to conservative management and the related protocols and interventions, including orthotic design. There are also many case studies to learn to apply knowledge. It’s well thought of, considering to all levels of experience, designed to prepare you for the CHT exam, and most importantly the fact that you can discuss cases and benefit from your fellow therapists, and get the mentorship that I always looked for is a great added benefit to the program.

I’m more than blessed to get the chance to be a part of this programs, my technical skills have improved significantly, I’m able to communicate better with the surgeons, I can be more detailed and analyze each exercise with full understanding of each stage of therapy, and understanding the protocols used in the surgical interventions. Again, I’m more than thankful for this experience.