Stem Cell Training? Our New Interventional Orthopedics Fellowship Programs

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Stem cell training is one of the examples of what I call the stem cell wild west.  I just had a colleague debrief me after his return from a weekend stem cell training course. The differences between what he learned in that course and the type of training we give physicians for the Regenexx Network is stark. One of the things that has always differentiated Regenexx is our educational experiences.

We have three levels of education in stem cells, all of which have a serious set of qualifications to pass before you’re eligible. In fact, that’s the first huge difference between Regenexx and the stem cell training weekend course my friend attended, the latter asked for no qualifications. In fact, he could have been pretending to a be a medical doctor and as long as he paid his $6,500, he could have taken the course. Second, the weekend course was focused on how to isolate stem cells with a few live demonstrations, but agnostic to how you use those stem cells in patients — meaning there was very little detail or time spent on how the stem cells should be applied to treat problems with bones, joints, tendons, or ligaments. I’ll therefore call it a “magic” stem cell course, in that the focus is teaching you how to isolate magic stem cells from fat (with bone marrow thrown in as an afterthought). Contrast that to Regenexx, where physicians have a long list of specific procedures they must master in each body area in order to be certified in that area. The focus for Regenexx is on using stem cells as a tool, but the secret sauce of getting the best outcomes is focused on precise placement of stem cells. In fact, when my friend asked the instructor (who didn’t hold a doctorate level academic degree from any institution of higher learning) about that issue, he was told that the stem cells would “home” there from an IV injection. I promptly told him that because of a pulmonary first pass effect, almost all of the stem cells delivered IV would end up in the lungs. In addition, since many of the tissues that we treat in the musculoskeletal system are poorly vascularized or have no blood supply, there is no way for the stem cells to get to those places.

What are our three levels of training? First, if the physician has been practicing for a number of years and has the right base qualifications, he or she can take our body part specific courses and demonstrate competency in a cadaver lab. As discussed above, we have 5-10 specific procedures per body part the provider must master. In addition, unlike the weekend stem cell course, the provider must perform the procedure for an instructor and show that he can place the cells accurately before he earns the right to say that he is certified in that body area. If the provider has already taken a musculoskeletal fellowship, but hasn’t been practicing to gain experience, he or she can now enroll in one of our three month mini-fellowships to get additional hands on training. The fellows are paid during this time, so that young doctors can afford to get the training (as they’re often loaded down with debt). Finally, if the physician hasn’t had a fellowship already and wants an academic research component to the training, the full one year fellowship is available. The video above tells more.

The upshot? Nobody trains physicians like Regenexx. In fact, nobody is even a distant second. Rather than weekend courses taught to anyone with a heartbeat, our docs are hand picked and then get intensive training by body area and procedure. Young doctors can also choose a 3 month mini-fellowship or a one year full traditional fellowship. This because the “magic” of stem cells is only half in the cells and half in knowing how to deploy them!

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