(The following views represent the author's own opinions only. )

Hand diploma is a postgraduate certification in hand surgery. Currently there are two separate hand diploma examinations:

  1. British Diploma in Hand Surgery 
    - administered jointly by the British Society for Surgery of the Hand (BSSH) and the University of Manchester.

  2. European Board of Hand Surgery Diploma 
    - administered by the Federation of European Societies for Surgery of the Hand (FESSH).

Each of them has specific eligibility criteria and interested candidates are advised to refer to the respective society websites for the latest information.


British Diploma in Hand Surgery

The examination is in fact the final 8th module of study. In addition to acquiring a certain number of credits from attending relevant courses and conferences, the candidate is required to have completed a number of coursework (review article, critique of scientific presentations, department presentation, DVD filming of an operation, management algorithm), tutorials and assessments before he/she is allowed to proceed to the examination. This is not for the faint-hearted and having a study group would definitely help.

Examination format

Part 1 MCQ/EMQ 

  • 90 questions in 2 hours
  • Best of 5
  • No negative marking

Part 2 Clinical skill stations

  • 12 stations
  • 15 mins each
  • 2 examiners at each station 


European Board of Hand Surgery Diploma

There is no coursework!

Part 1 MCQ

  • 60 questions each with 5 statements
  • True or False
  • 2 hours
  • Negative marking

Part 2 Orals

  • 45 mins x 2 sessions
  • 2 examiners at each session
  • Clinically based


Why should I bother?

Hand Diploma is a validated certification to demonstrate your commitment and expertise in hand surgery to the public and your professional colleagues. For those looking for their first consultant appointment, it will serve as an added advantage in the increasingly competitive job market. Personally, having achieved both diplomas, I have developed a level of insight and appreciation of the breadth and depth of hand surgery that would not have been possible otherwise. I believe the systematic and comprehensive review of literature, which is necessary in the preparation, ultimately has translated into better patient care.