Why a Shoulder Specialist Needs to Keep Learning

March 26, 2015 | Focus News

You’d think after having completed six years of undergraduate medical studies, another 10 years specialising as an orthopaedic surgeon, including sub-specialty studies, that I’d have had enough of study.

And certainly, on those days when another late night loomed large I found myself kind of wishing I didn’t have to face another exam, but study and research remain a constant for any medical professional wanting to provide the best possible care to patients.

Far from being work and the stress it was during undergraduate days, ongoing learning in my chosen specialty is a real joy. I’d even say it’s an enriching experience, especially when it involves connecting with peers who are looking for ways to do things better, just as I am.

Practice and research go hand in hand

Far from being discrete areas of focus, I found it important to marry up my practical work with research. Apart from providing the opportunity to learn and grow, it allows me to be of even greater service to my patients as new and better ways are found to solve challenges patients are facing.

While I can perform this research clinically, I also enjoy the benefit of an association with the Codman Harvard Shoulder Society in Boston, Massachusetts. Named after Ernest Amory Codman, an American physician deemed the father of an outcomes management approach to patient care, the Codman Harvard Shoulder Institute is a unique organisation.

With a focus purely on the shoulder and all its mechanics and issues, the Codman Harvard Shoulder Society takes a very focused look at what clinicians working in this area can do to finesse and improve the delivery of care and solutions to patients all around the world. 

Through my sub-specialty studies, I was fortunate to gain access to the institute and all it offers. Apart from the collegiate support, every year, the alumni has the opportunity to get together and share learnings and experience at the annual conference for shoulder specialists.

Sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?! Well for some us, it’s a really important event. Actually, this annual pilgrimage is worth its weight in gold.

Drawing together all the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced practitioners on the topic, in my opinion, the Codman Shoulder meeting held in conjunction with the San Diego Shoulder conference is a must.

It is during these couple of days that highly technical talk about shoulders is completely acceptable. It is also the time that it’s possible to check in with peers to find out:

  • What’s working well for them in treatment
  • What can be improved to achieve better patient outcomes
  • What kind of technology developments are emerging in the treatment of shoulder conditions.

This year’s topic Shoulder replacement. For me, this is a bonus because the attendees include a number of the world’s best shoulder surgeons from the US and Europe. It’s really like getting together with the All Star Dream Team (in your favourite sport).

Without exception, I return from this event recharged, with insights that afford me the opportunity to provide another level of care and knowledge to patients.

You can guarantee this year will be no exception. I’ll have plenty to share with patients and colleagues and look forward to integrating my learnings into my practice, research and the patient recovery process. The ultimate outcome is to help my patients enjoy recovery – both the process and the outcome.