Jeffrey Abrams, MD, (left) was among the surgeons whom Dr. Bondarenko was able to observe during his visit as an International Surgical Skills Scholar.

AAOS Now

Published 8/1/2014

Ukrainian Scholar Hopes for Increased Collaboration

Stanislav Bondarenko, MD, PhD, wants to build partnerships

Partnerships are at the heart of the AAOS International Surgical Skills Scholarship program. This clinical exchange program helps international participants and U.S. hosts build lifelong relationships through a shared love and practice of orthopaedics. Its goal is to improve the quality and outcomes of orthopaedic care worldwide in the following ways:

  • providing knowledge and skills that the recipients will share with fellow colleagues
  • helping to shape the careers of aspiring orthopaedic leaders
  • opening doors to mentoring and exchange opportunities

Since 2002, more than 100 international scholars from 46 different countries have participated in the program. One of the 2013 participants was Stanislav Bondarenko, MD, PhD, of the Sytenko Institute of Spine and Joint Pathology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine. He recently spoke with AAOS Now about his experiences and his hopes for the future.

AAOS Now: Please share some information about yourself with our readers.

Dr. Bondarenko: I am a Ukranian citizen, born and raised here. I received my medical education and training in Ukraine, where I have been practicing orthopaedics for 10 years. I am a senior research scientist and assistant professor in the department of joint pathology, Sytenko Institute of Spine & Joint Pathology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. My clinical practice is limited to adult hip and knee reconstruction surgery.

Our institute is the oldest orthopaedic institute in Ukraine and former Soviet Union. It was established in 1907 and has evolved from a small specialist hospital to a 240-bed orthopaedic institution. It is currently an academic, scientific, and specialist training institution with a residency training program that is also open to foreign doctors.

AAOS Now: What was your international scholarship experience like?

Dr. Bondarenko: My visit was from June 28–July 6, 2013, and I participated in a hip arthroscopy course held at the Orthopaedic Learning Center (OLC), in Rosemont, Ill., and an observership at the Princeton University Medical Center. It was a great experience for me—I had a unique opportunity to observe many new and cutting-edge techniques. I was also impressed with the organization and management required for outpatient total joint arthroplasty.

I found the Arthroscopy Association of North America master course on hip arthroscopy very intensive and educating. The lectures covered the theory of hip arthroscopy, and we also had practical demonstrations in the OLC. I became acquainted with new perspectives in hip surgery and learned about managing and minimizing complications during the pre-, intra-, and postoperative periods. The course broadened my knowledge in diagnostic and therapeutic hip arthroscopy, and it opened the door to new techniques for treating patients.

I have gained some experience in Ukraine in this field and hope to develop my knowledge and stay updated with current trends. I hope to learn from the high level of treatment, knowledge, and procedure I saw in America and to pass on to my colleagues in Ukraine the culture and approach to solving scientific problems.

AAOS Now: How did your observership progress?

Dr. Bondarenko: For the first 2 days of my observership, I was at the Capital Health Hospital at Hopewell and at the University Medical Center at Princeton. I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the anterior approach to total hip arthroplasty (THA) performed by Hari Bezwada, MD, and Brian Vannozzi, MD.

Then I observed Jeffrey Abrams, MD, at the Princeton Orthopaedic Associates Outpatient Center, performing shoulder arthroscopy. I also had the opportunity to observe the reverse shoulder arthroplasty technique, which was completely new to me.

During my visit I had opportunities to discuss problems that interested me, participate in discussions, and talk about my home institute and its methods of practice.

AAOS Now: What is the healthcare system in the Ukraine like? How does it compare to the U.S. system?

Dr. Bondarenko: They are two fundamentally different systems. In Ukraine, healthcare services at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels are free. Every sick patient can consult a physician in a government-owned hospital without any cost for the consultation. However, the provision of drugs and laboratory reagents in public hospitals is inconsistent, so patients have to pay for special tests, drugs, and implants themselves.

AAOS Now: What were the most important “take-aways” that you learned during your visit? How will this affect the way you practice orthopaedics in the Ukraine?

Dr. Bondarenko: My most important take-away from the OLC course was learning new arthroscopic techniques such as labral repair and reconstruction for femoroacetabular impingement. We have already incorporated these into the list of hip arthroscopy surgical procedures in my center. I’ve also adopted the novel, more minimally invasive surgical THA techniques to reduce the risk of postoperative complications, accelerate patient rehabilitation, and reduce length of hospital stay.

AAOS Now: How has the recent turmoil in Ukraine affected your institution and your practice? What are your hopes for Ukraine and for orthopaedics there?

Dr. Bondarenko: It is said that the object of all life is to avoid problems. We all want peace, but without security there cannot be peace. The current political turmoil in Ukraine has caused problems for everyone, including patients, doctors, and visitors. The inflation rate is high, making drugs and implants unaffordable.

Kharkiv, where my institute is located, is free of turmoil for the moment. However, we have organized a team of highly specialized emergency services for disputed areas.

I hope that peace will return and policymakers, including foreign influences, will realize that Ukraine is a sovereign state. As for the future of orthopaedics in Ukraine, I hope we can have more collaboration with the research-oriented, profit-motivated, and competition-driven practices in other countries. It would be very interesting to cooperate more with the AAOS to explore possibilities with a view to cooperative, productive development.

Additional information about the scholarship program can be found at www.aaos.org/internationalscholarship

How You Can Participate
The AAOS International Scholarship program annually recruits eligible applicants from every region of the world. Since its inception, the program has shaped the careers of aspiring orthopaedic leaders from countries with limited resources and opened doors to unprecedented learning and mentoring opportunities.

If you’d like to take a more “hands-on” role with the international scholarship program, consider hosting an international scholarship recipient at your facility. Observerships last 3 to 5 days and can include surgery, clinic, grand rounds, and participation in conferences and/or case discussions.

Contributions to the AAOS International Scholarship Fund are also welcome and used to help cover costs associated with air travel, lodging, food, education event registration, and a stipend for scholarship recipients. To make a contribution, email international@aaos.org