Orthopedic surgeons' biggest inspirations


Four orthopedic surgeons connected with Becker's to discuss the biggest inspirations to their orthopedic careers.

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 leadership quality is hard to come by in orthopedic leaders today?

Please send responses to Riz Hatton at rhatton@beckershealthcare.com by 5 p.m. CST Thursday, March 9.

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

Brett Auerbach, DO. Orthopedic Surgeon at Guthrie Medical Group (Sayre, Pa.): It is not possible to choose just one person. Sean McMillan, DO, was my chief resident and helped cultivate my desire to choose orthopedic sports medicine as a subspecialty. Many years later he continues to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology. Professionally, Gus Katsigiorgis, DO, and Nicholas Sgaglione, MD, encouraged me to set a high standard for myself as an orthopedic surgeon.

As a fellow, William Beach, MD, Paul Caldwell, MD, Shannon Wolfe, MD, and Julious "Jody" Smith, MD, demonstrated how to lead by example and the need to to stay current with best practices.

Currently, my biggest inspiration is my colleague Abraham Appleton, MD. He has been instrumental in my shift to academics. He truly cares about his patients and has motivated me to provide the highest quality of care possible.

Ravi Bashyal, MD. Orthopedic Surgeon at NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute (Skokie, Ill.): My parents and patients have been my biggest inspirations.

My orthopedic career is grounded in the good example of my parents who immigrated to the U.S. before I was born. They both come from humble beginnings, but have modeled the importance of education, a strong work ethic, loyalty and treating people with care.

With my patients, I value and respect the trust they put in me as their surgeon and their courage to recognize and address the fact that their worn-out hip or knee needs to be replaced. Perhaps most gratifying and inspiring is the privilege I have had to treat patients in Nepal who need joint replacements but lack the financial means to do so as a part of Operation Walk Chicago. I am inspired continually by a loop of love, gratitude and appreciation. The faith and courage these patients show in their everyday lives is a constant source of inspiration to me.

Afshin Mashoof, MD. Orthopedic Surgeon at Center for Advanced Orthopedics (Fountain Valley, Calif.): There have been individuals that have guided and helped me throughout my more than 22-year career. The one example that I can share would be the very first day of medical school. I remember sitting in the auditorium with all the other young nervous students. Our dean at the time was standing at the podium. He was a Midwestern man with traditional Midwestern upbringing. I remember him placing a pair of running shoes on the podium. They were weather beaten, old and even from a distance you could see the leather peeling off. His exact words were "I bought these running shoes new 30 years ago when I was sitting where you are and have yet to take them off." After more than 20 years of practice my running shoes are worn more than I had hoped, but still comfortable. It takes hard work, dedication, endurance and a lot of running to have a successful orthopedic career.

Nasser Heyrani, MD. Founder and President of Oak Tree Orthopedics (Corona, Calif.): "Much of what you become in life depends on whom you choose to admire and copy." That is a quote from Warren Buffett.

I am a firm believer in that quote and have been very fortunate to have learned from several teachers and role models throughout the various stages of my education that I will list in chronological order.

1. My 7th grade English teacher, Michael Barrett, instilled in me the importance of looking up every single word that I did not understand in a dictionary. This one simple lesson became a fundamental principle that I still carry with me today.

2. During my orthopedic residency at UC Davis (Calif.), my mentors Mark Lee, MD, and Robert Szabo, MD, instilled in me the importance of surgical anatomy, translational research and the importance of composure and equanimity both in and out of the operating room.

3. During my orthopedic foot and ankle fellowship at Harvard-MGH in Boston, I learned from Christopher DiGiovanni, MD, the importance of bedside manner in closely with the patient, their medical history, lifestyle and circumstances, to offer the best specialized treatment, toward a healthy and speedy recovery.

I would not be where I am today without these teachers and can only hope to mentor and inspire future orthopedic surgeons in the same fashion.

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