Six weeks, 15 flights, 11 hotels, and one Segway crash changed the lives of four young orthopaedic surgeons. We were from Charlotte, N.C. (Brian M. Curtin, MD), Bristol, United Kingdom (Jason Webb, MD), Tullamore, Ireland (Eoin Sheehan, MD), and Los Angeles (Daniel A. Oakes, MD), and our journey began at the AAOS Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.
As the 2015 Rothman-Ranawat Traveling Fellows, we visited 10 of the top total joint centers around the United States and Canada, arranged by the Hip Society. Our itinerary took us to Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.), the University of Southern California (Los Angeles), the Rothman Institute (Philadelphia), the Hospital for Special Surgery (New York City), Joint Implant Surgeons (New Albany, Ohio), Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic (Alexandria, Va.), Rush University Medical Center (Chicago), OrthoCarolina Hip and Knee Center (Charlotte, N.C.), Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston), and London Health Sciences Center (Ontario, Canada).
Each of us had our own individual goals and hopes, but as time passed, each of us gained a completely new perspective on the practices to which we would return. Discussions with previous fellows made us confident that we would each gain three lifelong colleagues and numerous stories, as well as numerous tips and tricks from each site visit that could be integrated into our practices. These aspects of the fellowship were easily accomplished and alone probably sufficient for this experience of a lifetime.
It wasn’t until the third site visit that the importance of our vantage point became apparent. On a daily basis in the operating room (OR), we, as surgeons, are focused on taking care of the patient and making ourselves as efficient as possible. In contrast, as traveling fellows, we had an opportunity to observe not only the host surgeons, but the entire OR environment, including staff interactions. With that new perspective we realized just how much goes on and the potential for new efficiencies.
Each site provided at least one day of OR observation with a variety of cases—from primary joint replacements to hip arthroscopies to very complex hip revisions—true confirmation that there is always more than one way to accomplish the same goal in arthroplasty. In many ways, we were reassured that our current practices were in line with those of the top joint centers, but we were also exposed to new and interesting ways to improve our current protocols and the patient experience.
On a more personal note, it was great to see 10 wonderful cities with typically at least one social activity (baseball games, dinners, whitewater rafting, a Broadway show, and brewery tours among them) arranged by and with the host faculty. Wonderful, thought-provoking conversations were common at each site, helping to establish career-long professional relationships. Many of the sites incorporated their fellows and residents into the experience, which added interactions with very talented up-and-coming arthroplasty surgeons.
We recognize that traveling fellowships take a great deal of time and effort to plan and arrange and are grateful to Lisa DuShane and Olga Foley of The Hip Society for their efforts. This journey would also not be possible without the financial support of The Hip Society, Chitranjan S. Ranawat, MD, and Richard H. Rothman, MD, and the stewardship of Adolph V. Lombardi Jr., MD.
The whole experience was a professional revelation for the four of us. Witnessing the benefits of teamwork, organization, and the application of sound scientific principles to improve the outcome of hip arthroplasty surgery has fueled us to improve the practices in our own units and countries. Forming such professional and friendly ties can only prove beneficial for the future of hip surgery.
Although it can be difficult at times, a traveling fellowship is, without a doubt well worth the time away from family and practice. To all who might consider the opportunity, we say you will not regret the unbelievable experience and your practice will absolutely benefit from the knowledge, professional relationships, and new perspectives gained.
Brian M. Curtin, MD, and Jason Webb, MD, were among the 2015 Hip Society Rothman-Ranawat Traveling Fellows.
The application deadline for The Hip Society’s 2016 Rothman-Ranawat Traveling Fellowship is August 1, 2015. For more information visit the Hip Society website at www.hipsoc.org.