We hold an annual company-wide Christmas party and an Interventional Orthopedics fellowship focused on regenerative medicine. What do those two things have in common? A few years back, one of our fellows began a tradition of providing the evening’s entertainment. Now that we’re on our third year of the “fellow show”, this year’s installment (video above) didn’t disappoint!
First, our fellows are talented people. Second, our fellowship has become a hot item among residents as no other program on earth can provide extensive hands on experience with hundreds of PRP and stem cell cases in both the spine and peripheral joints. In addition, our clinic performs certain Interventional Orthopedic procedures that either few places perform or no one else performs, and the experience they get is unique.
What is Interventional Orthopedics? From a 30,000 foot view, it’s the ability to take patients who would otherwise need surgery for knees, shoulders, ankles, hands, hips, or the spine and help them avoid those more invasive procedures through precise guided injections of their own advanced platelet or stem cell mixes. We also teach our fellows that it’s their job to compete head to head with surgeons and offer a better mousetrap, so that patients can benefit from a less invasive alternative. This is a tough thing to do if like most physicians performing orthobiologic injections, you’re offering that service as part of a large surgical group. For example, take our procedure to heal ACL injuries through a precise injection of the patient’s own stem cells. Offering this in a surgically focused practice would be heresy, offering this less invasive procedure to the patients with torn ACLs at the Centeno-Schultz clinic is routine.
Our fellows also learn how to examine a patient, as learning how to perform these advanced injection procedures is only half of the equation. For example, unlike sports or spine fellowships that might recycle orthopedic surgery ideas about how to approach a patient in terms of the surgery he or she may need, our fellows are taught to perform an exam that considers all aspects of what’s wrong with the MSK system, using the SANS approach we pioneered. For example, they look at joint stability from the perspective of how to tighten lax ligaments that may not need surgery, but that may still be slowing frying joints. They also look at the joint itself with different eyes, using the latest imaging techniques to decide where to precisely place platelets or stem cells to provide the best chance of relief and joint preservation. Unlike an orthopedic surgeon who generally ignores the contribution of irritated nerves, they’re focused on whether subtle (or not so subtle), spine issues may be contributing to why that upper or lower extremity joint went bad. Finally, they’re looking at the symmetry of the body to help understand the long-term causes of dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system.
After becoming established by training one physician a year for the last four years, our fellowship program will go to two doctors a year beginning July 2016. In the video above, you see our 2nd fellow Dr. Pitts, whose hands and mind are as gifted as his “South Side Chicago” rap skills! You see Dr. Bashir, last year’s fellow who apparently took his guitar and amazing voice to local coffee houses in medical school. Dr. B is also an impresario of bio mechanics who never ceases to amaze me with the connections he is able to make on how this change in this part of the body caused that other issue way over there! Finally, Dr. Markle is this year’s fellow. Who knew a kid from Florida could rap like that? He’s impressed me with his ability to quickly grasp everything we do and understand at a deep level what’s wrong with the patient and what needs to be done!
The upshot? These guys are the creme of the crop of physicians entering this field, as the competitive nature of our fellowship program has meant that we’ve had our pick from a pool of very talented physicians. The fact that they can work a crowd is almost amazing as the unique skill set they’ve all mastered. With this year’s “fellow show”, they’ve set a very tough bar for the new fellows beginning the program in 2016!