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 to meet the health and wellness needs of the people of North Carolina and beyond.


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, 2022.

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 clinicaledreq@unchealth.unc.edu

We will invite strong candidates to Chapel Hill for an interview and tour of our hospital on Monday August 29. Decisions will be made within 2 weeks after the interview date. The fellowship program will begin in January 2023. Fellows must have a North Carolina OT license prior to January 1.

With questions, please contact clinicaledreq@unchealth.unc.edu.

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

Kristel Maes, PT, DPT, Dip MDT

Undergraduate schoolKULeuven Belgium

Graduate schoolKULeuven 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.

What my role is:
As the Administrator for all our post-graduate programs, I assure that all logistics are taken care of so mentors can focus on the teaching aspect. I also facilitate completion of all compliance items for the fellows as employees as well as AOTA criteria. 

Mentor Information

DoddHeather 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.

BaleBeth 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 Potter, 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.

schusterAlison Schuster, OTR/L

Undergraduate school: Eastern Michigan University

Graduate school: Eastern Michigan University

Professional interest:
I currently work in patient rehab focusing on ADLs in order to increase my patient's independence and to decrease burden of care. The populations that I am most interested in include burns and spinal cord injury.

Why I serve as a mentor:
I remember early in my career how incredibly helpful it was to have a professional mentor, through them is really how I was able to grow as a therapist. I now enjoy being a mentor myself and teaching about areas that I feel knowledgeable about. I enjoy sharing this knowledge and helping others to grow in their career.

KorshinBritni 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.

Mata-WhitmerHayley 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.

Kathryn Davis, OTR/L, CBIS

Undergraduate school: BFA - East Carolina University, OTA - Pitt Community College

Graduate school: MOT - Cabarrus College of Health Sciences

Professional interest:
Traumatic Brain Injury, Multi-trauma, Burns, Acute Care, Orthosis Fabrication and Management, Clinical Education

Why I serve as a mentor:
Having great mentorship when I first began working in acute care was invaluable. And now being able to be a part of a fellow occupational therapy practitioner's growth and development is just as rewarding and beneficial. Serving as a mentor supports not only the development of a new practitioner's skills but helps to continue strengthening my own.

ArringtonConnie Arrington, COTA

Undergraduate school: Durham Technical Community College

Graduate school: N/A

Professional interest:
Healing/scar progression in general, especially the burned face and neck
Providing emotional support and giving my patients the information and training they need to regain their independence

Why I serve as a mentor:
I think it is important to support the next generation of Occupational Therapy burn specialists. This is a very detailed and often difficult specialty and having the ability to guide someone through some of its intricacies will enable them to gain a strong foundation of burn knowledge so they can better appreciate the value of the services they are providing our patients, both physically and emotionally.

MIllerChristopher Derek Miller, MSN, RN, CCRN-K

Undergraduate school: NC State University School of Education (B.S. in Math Education); UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing (BSN)

Graduate school: UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing (MSN)

Professional interest:
Critical care education, burn education, new graduate residency & professional role transition, simulation, interprofessional education & collaboration (IPE & IPC)

Why I serve as a mentor:
Mentoring is an essential tool for continuing growth of new professionals. It makes a difference for quality of patient care, for how well staff work together as a team, and overall staff satisfaction & retention. It is my way to contribute that recharges my batteries, too.

Meet Our Fellows

Ashley Holahan, OTD, OTR/L

2022 Fellow: Ashley Holahan, OTD, OTR/L 

Undergraduate school:Truman State University

Graduate school:Creighton University

Professional interest:Community burn early prevention

Why I chose to do a residency/fellowship program at UNC
To further my skill set in burn rehabilitation and gain valuable mentorship from occupational therapists well versed in burn care.

What I like about Chapel Hill, NC
The diversity and easy going nature of the community.

2019 Fellow: Emma DeJournette

Undergraduate school: Grove City College

Graduate school: Lenoir-Rhyne University

Professional interest: Burn rehabilitation and therapy; Hand therapy

Why I chose to do a residency/fellowship program at UNC
UNC is unique and offered a one of a kind education/experience. UNC had the only AOTA Burn OT Fellowship. I knew I wanted and needed more education and mentoring to feel the best equipped to work with the burn population. UNC offered that mentorship and guidance. An added bonus: The OTs/COTAs there were amazing and friendly!

What I like about Chapel Hill, NC
The food, vibe, and people! Chapel Hill has a lot to offer and there is something for everyone.

2018 Fellow: Jessica Willoughby

Coleman2017 Fellow: Breanna Potter, OTR/L

Undergraduate school: University of North Dakota

Graduate school: University of North Dakota

Professional interest: Burn Rehabilitation

Why I chose to do a residency/fellowship program at UNC
I chose the UNC Health Occupational Therapy Burn Fellowship Program due to its remarkable reputation as the only approved burn fellowship through the American Occupational Therapy Association. I felt driven to further develop my clinical skills in this practice area, as I have held a strong interest in working with this patient population since my fieldwork experiences during graduate school. The extensive mentorship offered during a year-long period particularly intrigued me, as this experience focused on both inpatient and outpatient care. The fellowship’s unique opportunities, including research, teaching, leadership, advocacy, ethical practice, didactic instruction, and professional development, also inspired me. Reflecting now, I feel thankful that this fellowship provided me with a positive learning environment where I could refine my clinical practice and pursue my passion in occupational therapy.

What I like about Chapel Hill, NC
When I moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2016, I immediately fell in love with the area’s sense of community. I learned that this city is filled with diverse young professionals, which allowed me to quickly form wonderful friendships. Chapel Hill is near multiple cities, allowing easy access to amazing hiking trails, endless beaches, and various professional sporting events. Living in a location that features all four seasons also serves as a notable benefit. Overall, I truly feel grateful to be a part of a remarkable community within Chapel Hill as well as UNC Health.


2016 Fellow: 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 chose to do a residency/fellowship program at UNC
I chose UNC Health Burn Fellowship program because I wanted to increase my clinical skills and knowledge in burn care. It is the only OT Burn fellowship in the country and it provides unique learning opportunities throughout the year. The fellowship program eased my transition into practicing and further enhanced my passion for working in burn care.

What I like about Chapel Hill, NC
Chapel Hill is a wonderful college town filled with restaurants and shops. There are a lot of activities to do within the triangle area and it isn’t too far from the mountains and beaches.

Henn2015 Fellow: Eleanor Morgan Henn, OTR/L

Undergraduate school: Middle Tennessee State University

Graduate school: East Carolina University

Professional interest:
Currently I am working in hand and upper extremity rehabilitation, with the goal of becoming a Certified Hand Therapist.

Why I chose to do a residency/fellowship program at UNC:
I did a level 2 fieldwork in the burn center and from that experience, I knew I wanted to work in burn rehabilitation. The fellowship was a good way for me to transition from student to full time member of the burn team because of the timing and availability of both of these opportunities.

What I like about Chapel Hill, NC:
During my fellowship, I lived in Carrboro and enjoyed being able to use the free bus system to and from my apartment and the hospital. I enjoyed the variety of restaurants and the ability to walk and bike to a lot of places. Most of all, I have always enjoyed being affiliated with UNC - it is an organization that I am proud to work for!

Information on Student Affiliations

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