Hand Therapist???

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WannabeCHT in Los Angeles, California

56 months ago

So does nobody here know about being a hand therapist? It really is hard to find real info without speaking to ppl face to face. I've just gotten inconsistent advice so can anyone here clear things up?

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Suzie Que in Hawaii

56 months ago

I think that doing the things that you suggested (shadowing a hand surgeon, a 3rd voluntary internship in hand therapy, and finding a job as a new grad with a CHT supervisor) are all great ideas that will help you become a CHT. Whether or not you actually do all of those things will depend on the amount of money you are willing to spend and the amount of time you want to invest in being a CHT.

My best advice, chill out. There is no clear cut route to any specialty. If you want it enough and work hard, you will be able to be a CHT. People will be hurting their hands forever, so there will always be hand therapists.

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WannabeCHT in Los Angeles, California

56 months ago

So your best advice, as I understand it, is to not ask anymore questions about a future career choice? Chill n wait for success to come to me eh? lol you don't just "become" a CHT. And my questions weren't really about being a CHT they were about attaining HTC and the easiest/best way to get there. If you don't have constructive advice why say anything at all? :/

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Suzie Que in Hawaii

56 months ago

No no no. I never said success would come to you. I said you had to invest time and money. The reason you have received "conflicting advice" is because there is more than one way to become a CHT. Take advantage of whatever opportunities you can find be it shadowing a surgeon, taking a 3rd internship, or finding a job with a CHT supervisor. There is no clear cut route to any one profession.

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WannabeCHT in Los Angeles, California

56 months ago

oh ok that sounds better, thanks n sorry if that sounded sarcastic :)

I've never actually seen hand therapy in practice, do you know a lot about it? I'm trying to study now reviewing things from my phys dys course (mmt, sense tests, rom etc.). I know I will need to learn most of the interventions "en vivo" but can you tell me anything about a full upper extremity eval? I'd like to practice the techniques now with a few friends in my cohort who also want to be hand therapists. We've just been doing mmt and sensory stuff but I'm sure there's more.

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Suzie Que in Hawaii

56 months ago

Goniometry is important...being able to use all of the different types of small goniometers meant for the fingers. Know how to use a dynamometer, volumeter, etc. I would review precautions and treatment protocols for various surgeries/injuries. There are books out there that list standard treatment protocols for various hand therapy diagnoses. (I tried to include a link to an example of such a book, but Indeed wouldn't let me. Just go on Amazon.com and search hand therapy in books and stuff will come up.)

One caveat: I am not a CHT, just have a CHT friend at the facility I work in and I fill in for her occasionally. So take my advice with a grain of salt.

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WannabeCHT in Los Angeles, California

56 months ago

Sounds good, and thanks a lot that gives me a good place to start. I'll get on that right away. Also, the other gaping hole in available information is salary info... I always hear that hand therapy makes more money but nobody gets into specifics. Do you know anything about that? Not necessarily CHT's but the newer hand therapists with less than 5 yrs. exp.

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WannabeCHT in Los Angeles, California

56 months ago

oh ok that makes sense... Have you heard of people going into private practice before they have the CHT?

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Suzie Que in Hawaii

56 months ago

Nope, but I don't personally know anyone who went into private practice in any area.

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WannabeCHT in Los Angeles, California

56 months ago

Yeah there are many people in Cali who go into private practice or at least contract their services instead of being employees

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OT in NJ in Fair Lawn, New Jersey

54 months ago

Hey WannabeCHT, I'm not as familiar as the route needed to become a CHT, however I do know that there are a required number of direct treatment hours needed before sitting for the certification exam. I believe either 4,000 or 5,000. Here are some websites that may be helpful:
www.htcc.org/
www.asht.org/index.cfm
diplomaguide.com/articles/Certified_Hand_Therapist_Career_Info.html

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OT in NJ in Fair Lawn, New Jersey

54 months ago

OTzee in Oxnard, California said: Hey guys, I'm a recent graduate and I'm applying for OT positions. I ultimately want to be a CHT, as well, and specialize in the area of orthopedics. Most of my experience has been in outpatient (fieldwork and my previous f/t jobs before grad school as PT aide). What do you think is the best area to start off at for an entry-level OT? I just had my first job interview at a SNF. I've had no experience in that area, and from my clinical instructor, she told me that you need a lot of experience under your belt to work in an outpatient setting. What do you guys think? I'm trying to set a path for myself to work towards working in outpatient.

OTzee, why don't you contact a CHT or outpatient OT in orthopedics and see what they suggest. If you want to focus on orthopedics I'm not sure that a SNF would be the best bet. I first worked at a SNF when I graduated for the experience of the setting without knowing a direct population or setting I wanted to work in. My orthopedic exposure was limited there. I work at a hospital where I have a lot more exposure so that might be a good setting to look into. You might also find an outpatient setting with more experienced OTs who may be willing to mentor and supervise. I would definitely contact a couple of CHTs and outpatient ortho settings to see what they say. Also visit some and see what types of clients they get and where you think you would be comfortable.

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outpatientot in solvang, California

53 months ago

I am outpatient OT and have been practicing since 1989. I thought I could give some suggestions. I started out working in a rehab. hospital and that was a great foundation for my career. To this day, I recommend all my students do at least 1 year in rehab. Later, I decided to try home health while working in a SNF. I have been working in outpatient for 10 or so years now. I got into it by observing another hand therapist. You can work in an outpatient clinic if you have good splinting skills or are a fast learner for on the job training. I didn't know how to do wound care or remove sutures when I started in outpatient. Note: Different clinics do various amounts and if a therapist cannot handle the wound care, the other therapist does it.
You do need to work to get your HTC and PAMs in California. That means look for conferences that say physical agent modalities and hand therapy certification. But some places will hire without it as long as you are working toward it.
NOTE: you can be a HTC (hand therapist certified) and not a CHT (certified hand therapist) difference may just =the test
Beyond that, you need 5000 hours to get your CHT. And you take an additional test. Then you do more CEUs above and beyond what the AOTCB and the licensure board want to keep the CHT active.
Lastly, you do not have to be a CHT to have a private practice. However, it is best to know the doctors well.
Hope this helps. K
ps we are always looking for hand therapy OTs so look us up.

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WannabeCHT in Los Angeles, California

53 months ago

HEY! Thank you for your reply, it was very helpful! Now I have a tacky question... what do hand therapists earn salary wise? Money isn't everything, but if you don't have much it can be a problem lol.

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Gavin in Newark, Ohio

53 months ago

It can range from 80k to 110k depending on experience.

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WannabeCHT in Los Angeles, California

53 months ago

Is this in Ohio? because I know it should be higher than that in Cali... New grads usually start at around 40/hr here in a SNF...I would hope that a specialty like hand therapy would pay more, Home health pays around 60-65/hr and it doesn't take any extra training to do... :/

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Gavin in Newark, Ohio

53 months ago

Hand Therapy in Cali is between 80 to 110k. There are less hand therapy jobs than SNF. SNF is demand and supply which raises the rates up. It's up to the individual what atmosphere you want to work in but typically SNF and Home Health pay the most. This may change with Medicare reimbursements declining for nursing homes and home health companies. Your money will be tied to reimbursement and need. If you have a Ph.D. Hand Therapy and your partner has a bachelors when that was the entry requirement and reimbursement is what it is your not making more money just cause. Becareful with that. Therapy is only as good as the reimbursement and education is not getting any cheaper.

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Kat OT, CHT in Orem, Utah

44 months ago

look at the website www.htcc.org you should find all the information you need to know about becoming a certified hand therapist.

WannabeCHT in Los Angeles, California said: Hey guys! I'm moving into my last year of a BS/MS program and was wondering if anyone has advice on how to become a hand therapist. I know you only need the board certification to practice but what is the best way to get into this field? I've heard I need to shadow a hand surgeon. I've also heard that a 3rd voluntary internship is best. Still others have told me to just go try to find a job as a new grad with a CHT supervisor because as long as someone with California certification is there I can practice hand therapy. I'll be looking to move to northern cali after I graduate. Any advice? Anybody know the current starting salary/hourly pay if I'm a new grad working in an outpatient hand clinic? Sorry I have a LOT of questions but there doesn't seem to be a clear cut route in this specialty...

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OTS in Los Angeles, California

39 months ago

outpatientot in solvang, California said: ps we are always looking for hand therapy OTs so look us up.

Hello there, I'm a new grad OT working at a SNF, but I have always had an interest in hand therapy and would like to gain more exposure to the specialty. I live about an hour south from Solvang. Are u in need of hand OTs right now? Please let me know as well as where you're located. :) Thank you.

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AZ in Oxnard, California

39 months ago

I'm an OT and looking for an outpatient job to work in hand therapy.
Please let me know what your clinic is called.

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newuser in Monterey, California

34 months ago

I know this is an old thread, but I've done some research into hand therapy salaries in the SF Bay Area. Frankly, it's pretty sad. Per diem rates average about $50 an hour for an HTCC certified hand therapist. That's PER DIEM rates. To put that into perspective, most allied health professions in the SF Bay Area with similar years of experience, e.g., xray, ultrasound, RT, PT, etc..., average around 50-60 an hour for per diem rates. It's way more for nursing, which is around $70-80 an hour for per diem. After talking to some recruiters, they said that CHT do not typically make more money than other OT's. I thought this was bizarre, since the barrier to entry is so high, but from what I have gathered, hand therapy is a very niche field without a lot of demand. Also, you don't need to be certified to do hand therapy. So, effectively, the supply is not impacted at all. If you check out jobs on the HTCC website, there are not a lot of jobs posted there. Last time I checked, there were only 10 job openings posted there across the entire country. The HTCC has certified over 5000 OT's in this country alone. So, think about it. 5000 certified HT for only 10 current job postings. It's a supply demand issue.

After learning about all that, I decided not to do hand therapy anymore. It just makes no sense. The only reason why one would pursue hand therapy certification, that I can see, is because of passion for that line of work. Also, the certification is only good for 5 years. You will need to keep re-certifying afterwards.

Anyways, from all of my data gathering, a full time salaried hand therapist in California roughly makes around 90k/year at tops. Full time per diem is around 100k.

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ED in Rapid City, South Dakota

33 months ago

It doesn't sound bizarre to me. The lower wage reflects over-saturation. That's what happens to all fields/areas that become over-saturated. Heck, in some countries, you will see cab drivers with a Ph.D., because almost everyone has an advanced degree. If you want to make money, you have to have the knowledge, skills, and abilities in an area that is high in demand but few people are able to meet that demand.

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itsallperspective in Los Angeles, California

33 months ago

Newuser: It's good that you did some research on hand therapy, but not all hand therapy jobs are posted on the HTCC website. You saw 10 postings there, and assumed that only 10 jobs for hand therapists exist in the country? I've worked in three hand clinics, and not one of those positions was posted on that particular website.

But you said it yourself...if you don't have the passion for it, you should probably pursue another treatment area.

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CherOT in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

25 months ago

Its All Perspective in Los Angeles, California said: Newuser: It's good that you did some research on hand therapy, but not all hand therapy jobs are posted on the HTCC website. You saw 10 postings there, and assumed that only 10 jobs for hand therapists exist in the country? I've worked in three hand clinics, and not one of those positions was posted on that particular website.

But you said it yourself...if you don't have the passion for it, you should probably pursue another treatment area.

I am a CHT since 2005 and been practicing over 23 years. I just changed jobs and I was cut to 32 hours from 40 hours. I work for a corporate rehab and I am responsible for marketing for Hand patients but need to pass them to the general OTs and float to other clinics just to be fulltime at 32 hours.

An experienced talented CHT will make between 40-45 per hour in Miami. In NY and LA 40-50 per hour. It comes down to supply and demand. So, if one is willing to relocate to an area of the country in need of a CHT due to Hand surgeons need you will be in a better position. The respect comes from the Hand surgeons that value the CHT and the client who is educated and values the CHT.

It comes down to having the "Passion" to be a CHT! You will not rake in teh $$ as a CHT. I love splinting and love my hands.......I would rather make less and enjoy my work.

My OT buddies doing home health and SNF are making more $$ and work is less stressful.
They treat more one on one. As a CHT you are usually in situations where you see 2-3 patients an hour.

Hope this helps! I also do some peds and it is nice seeing them one on one and getting to really focus on one client at a time!

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