Skills all orthopedic surgeons should have


Orthopedic surgeons take different paths when going through medical school, but there are some skills many agree all should have in common.

Ask Orthopedic Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting orthopedic care. We invite all orthopedic surgeon and specialist responses.

Next question: What's the biggest change you want to see from the CMS 2023 proposal?

Please send responses to Carly Behm at by 5 p.m. CDT Wednesday, Aug. 17.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What's one skill all orthopedic surgeons in 2022 should know?

Philip Louie, MD. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (Seattle): The 2022 orthopedic surgeon needs to have a growth mindset, essentially the ability and desire to undergo continuous learning and adaptation. We all trained under a specific set of techniques, indications and curriculum. But we don't want those principles to be how we approach all of our patients in the future, no matter how comfortable we become. As the world around us changes, knowledge is grown, indications are clarified, and techniques are advanced — we must also step out of our comfort zone to provide the best care to our patients. Embrace the learning curve and contribute to the evidence!

Earl Kilbride, MD. Orthopedic surgeon at Austin (Texas) Orthopedic Institute: Orthopedic surgeons are responsible for the entirety of musculoskeletal care in patients. We all are exposed to, learn and hopefully master the same surgical techniques. What differentiates certain physicians is their ability to listen to patients and decipher what is really happening. This then allows the orthopedic surgeon to apply what he has mastered in making patients better.

Vivek Mohan, MD. The Orthopedic Spine Institute (Hoffman Estates, Ill.): Practice automation. Use technology in a manner that actually helps with the repetitive nature of your practice all the while freeing up physician time and increasing patient engagement and trust.

That's the holy grail to not only surviving but also succeeding in these difficult times where payments and reimbursements are being targeted and decreased. Make technology work for you!

Michael Gitelis, MD. Gitelis Orthopedics (Deer Park, Ill.): Patients come to our offices, for the most part, with pain. They come with fear and trepidation as to the etiology of their pain and what can give them relief. The physician first needs to present with compassion and confidence. It might take some work, but the patient must feel confident that fears of the unknown will be answered by a competent and compassionate professional. This is conveyed to the patient in an understanding manner. That's what "the art" of medicine is all about!

David Kalainov, MD. Northwestern Medicine (Chicago): Orthopedic surgeons taking general orthopedic and/or hand surgery emergency room calls encounter patients with suspected acute compartment syndrome. Acute compartment syndrome can also develop in association with various surgical procedures. Diagnostic and surgical skillsets are required to emergently/urgently diagnose and treat these patients.

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