Occupational Therapy Burn Fellowship Program

The UNC Health Occupational Therapy Burn Fellowship Program is a collaborative endeavor between the UNC Medical Center and the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center. It is structured to include 12 months of intensive training in acute and non-acute burn management. A major strength of our fellowship program lies in the diverse expertise and interests of our faculty combined with the high clinical volume that occurs within an internationally recognized burn center.


The mission of the UNC Health Occupational Therapy Burn Fellowship is to advance the knowledge and skills of an occupational therapist who will provide expert, specialized medical care and rehabilitative services to patients who sustain burn injuries.


The purpose of the UNC Medical Center Occupational Therapy Burn Fellowship is to advance the knowledge and skills of an occupational therapist that will provide specialized medical care and rehabilitative services to patients who sustain burn injuries. Fellows will participate in didactic education, focused and mentored clinics, research and direct patient care. The fellow will develop excellence in treatment of burn survivors and enhance their abilities to support and educate caregivers. The fellow will develop clinical skills and professional development to be prepared for the opportunity for board certification with AOTA( American Occupational Therapy Association)  and the American Burn Association( ABA) burn therapist certification in the future. 

Program Structure

The UNC Health Occupational Therapy Burn Fellowship Program curriculum is designed to increase the breadth and depth of knowledge, skill, and application of occupational therapy in burn care provision.

Fellows will develop excellence in evaluation, intervention, consultation, advocacy, teaching and the integration of current evidence into the patient care they provide. They will contribute to the profession through teaching, writing, advocacy and leadership.

The UNC Health Occupational Health Burn Fellowship is a 12-month program that starts in January. The fellow is a full-time employee (with competitive salary and benefits) who works three days per week providing direct patient care and participates in didactic instruction and mentor time two days a week. Additionally the fellow completes weekly learning activities in a mixed format (reading, researching, discussion, observation, online posts and teaching).

Didactic work is organized into learning modules spanning the 12-month fellowship:

  • 6-8 week focused learning: Orientation, Basic Medical Review, Clinical Ethics, ICU and acute care, Hand and Wrist care, Elbow and Shoulder care, Neck and Face care, Outpatient and Rehabilitation 
  • Continuous learning: Research, Advocacy, Interdisciplinary Learning, Wellness, Academic Teaching and Leadership

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the fellowship program the fellow will:

  • Meet competencies set forth from the AOTA as essential skills.
  • Be eligible for fast track candidacy in the AOTA Board Certification in Rehabilitation.
  • Developed burn competencies as outlined by the ABA in order to apply for the ABA Burn Therapist Certification, once hours have been met.


  • Graduate of either ACOTE or WFOT OT Education Program
  • Successfully passed the NBCOT exam
  • Eligible for North Carolina occupational therapy license

Admission Information

Submission for applications will close on August 1, 2021.

Please go here to complete the application and submit the following to us via email:

1. Resume or CV

2. Personal Essay
Please answer the following questions. (Typed, 250-500 word limit for each question)

  • Why have you chosen to pursue a fellowship program?
  • What makes you a strong candidate and a good fit for the UNC Health Occupational Therapy Burn Fellowship Program?
  • What do you hope to gain from our fellowship program including short and long term professional goals?

3. Three professional letters of reference sent directly by the reference to

We will invite strong candidates to a virtual interview on Thursday August 26th. Decisions will be made within 2 weeks after the interview date. The fellowship program will begin in January 2022. Fellows must have a North Carolina OT license prior to January 1.

With questions, please contact

Diversity Statement: The UNC Health System and the UNC School of Medicine are committed to valuing all people throughout our organization, regardless of background, lifestyle, and culture. A diverse and inclusive work environment for staff and culturally appropriate care for our patients, are essential to fulfilling our UNC Health vision of improving the health of all North Carolinians.

Equal Employment Opportunity: UNC Health is an equal opportunity employer. As such, UNC Health offers equal employment opportunities to applicants and employees without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or political affiliation.


Kristel Maes, PT, DPT, Dip MDT

Kristel MaesUndergraduate school:

KULeuven Belgium

Graduate school:

KULeuven Belgium and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Professional interest:

My clinical interest is spine. In my current position as Administrator of our post-graduate programs I have a passion for education and preparing the future generation of therapists.

Why I serve as a mentor:

Research has shown that having a professional mentor is beneficial to advancing your career. From personal experience, I value the benefit of surrounding myself with others who can give me a different perspective on a patient case, problem or project. By serving as a mentor I hope to pass on my knowledge and support a fellow's professional growth.


Susan Gisler, PT, MHA

Susan Gisler, PT, MHAUndergraduate school:


Graduate school:

Professional Interest:



Mentor Information

Heather Dodd, OTR/L, Program Coordinator

Undergraduate school: East Carolina University

Graduate school: Virginia Commonwealth University- Medical School/Health Sciences

Professional Interest: I have had the opportunity to be a part of UNC's Burn Center for 13 years. Each day is a new and rewarding challenge with a diverse population, ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics. Being able to provide burn rehabilitation by hands-on manual therapy, orthotic management, scar management, patient and family teaching and education in both an acute hospital setting as well as in an outpatient setting to burn survivors is gratifying. I also enjoy the benefits of evidence based practice to direct my care and have been involved in multiple research projects, publications and lecturing about the influence that occupational therapists have on a burn survivor's life and future.

Why I serve as a mentor: I have had the pleasure to work with esteemed colleagues with a wealth of knowledge that has driven me to learn more, do more and seek out the holistic needs of the burn survivors in order to reengage them into a life of success.  I serve as a mentor to therapists to provide and share that same opportunity and passion so they can see the benefit they make in the lives of survivors through their clinical skills in burn rehabilitation.  I enjoy providing a multitude of opportunities to enhance their clinical skills in all aspect of burn care from acute injury to a year out from their injury. I like to engage mentees in therapist-driven research and collaboration to provide the best treatment outcomes for the patients that we serve. After the five years of mentorship I have had with our fellows, it is a pleasure to work side-by-side with most of them as colleagues and seeing them strive as a competent burn therapist.


Beth Bale, COTA

Undergraduate school: Durham Technical Community College

Graduate school: Duke Divinity School, MRE

Professional Interest: I have worked in burns for over 20 years and am passionate about burn rehab and the ways OT can serve to get people back to their lives and function after minor and devastating burn injuries.  I am a splinting and adaptive device fabrication expert.

Why I serve as a mentor: I have always loved teaching and I enjoy passing on the knowledge I have gained in burn rehab to others who want to learn, especially when they are committed to also doing burn care.  I find teaching and mentoring very rewarding, as well as believing it is my duty to pass on the knowledge.


Breanna Coleman, OTR/L

Graduate school: University of North Dakota

Professional Interest: Burn Rehabilitation

Why I serve as a mentor: I first felt the reward of a mentor and mentee relationship as a participant of the UNC Burn OT Fellowship. My unwavering mentors truly helped me to develop the confidence and refine the clinical skills needed to provide services and advocate for this patient population. I now serve as a mentor for this program, because I strongly believe in the unique and valuable opportunity to partake in the development of an occupational therapist's role in burn rehabilitation. I am motivated by the fellowship to provide continual support and education throughout the learning experience that fosters significant professional and personal growth for the mentee.


Keith Jacobson, PT

Undergraduate school: Grove City College

Graduate school: Nova Southeastern University

Professional Interest: Burn rehabilitation

Why I serve as a mentor: I appreciate the opportunity to give back, influence future caregivers, and grow professionally.


Alison Schuster, OTR/L

Undergraduate school:

Graduate school:

Professional Interest:

Why I serve as a mentor: 


Britni Korshin, OTD, OTR/L

Undergraduate school: East Carolina University

Graduate school: Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences (Mary Baldwin University)

Professional Interest: Inpatient and outpatient burn rehabilitation

Why I serve as a mentor: As a mentor, I strive to provide new burn practitioners with not only my expertise in occupational therapy, but with knowledge and experience in burn rehabilitation. Working in such a specialized setting has allowed me to grow from a general practitioner into a burn-focused therapist, which is where my passion lies. By serving as a mentor, I hope to gain insights on new clinical practices and research ideas, along with providing the mentee with the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.


Hayley Mata-Whitmer, MOT, OTR/L

Undergraduate school: James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Graduate school: James Madison University

Professional Interest: Adult and pediatric burns, clinical education, teaching, research, and advocacy

Why I serve as a mentor: Being a mentor in the residency program allows me to provide support and enhance ones clinical skills and passion in burn care. Additionally, I have been fortunate to experience great mentorship as a fellow resident and I would like to ensure that future residents will have a positive experience as well.

Information on Student Affiliations

Rehabilitation Therapies, Therapy Services Educators
Kristel Maes, PT, DPT
Amber Corbin, MA, CCC-SLP
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