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Shaping Future Surgeons

PediOrtho WEST is in its seventh year of guiding resident physicians toward excellence in caring for children’s orthopedic needs.

Shriners Children’s PediOrtho WEST course expands to help inspire next-gen pediatric spine specialists

His plan is to become a spine surgeon. Ian Singleton, M.D., is a resident physician – a medical school graduate doing practical training – in San Francisco, California. But twice now, he has come to Shriners Children’s Northern California to attend an annual pediatric orthopedics workshop called PediOrtho WEST. He said his attendance has sparked an interest, and so while his ambition to be a spine surgeon remains, he “hopes to include a lot of pediatrics in his practice.”

PediOrtho WEST is in its seventh year of educating orthopedic resident physicians on orthopedics for children. The hope is to steer them toward the better practice of pediatric orthopedics – and maybe even prompt some to consider sub-specializing in pediatric orthopedics.

“This course is special,” said Jon Davids, M.D., emeritus assistant chief of orthopedics at Shriners Children’s Northern California and the surgeon who developed it. “There’s no better reward than gaining mastery of a subject and teaching it to the next generation so more patients can be cared for.”

The course reflects Shriners Children’s profound influence on healthcare for children today and into tomorrow. This program has been so well received that a packaged version is being shared in the United States and beyond the borders.

The boxed course has already been used in Argentina with support from the Foundation for Advancing Pediatric Orthopedics, a group founded by Peter Armstrong, M.D., former chief medical officer of the Shriners Children’s system. Groups in Brazil, Panama and Israel are also interested in using it.

Cultivating next-generation orthopedic experts

Jon Davids, M.D., and Vedant Kulkarni, M.D.

During PediOrtho WEST, the residents discuss cases and learn from faculty gathered from many of the best children’s hospitals and orthopedic training centers on the West Coast, including Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and the UC Davis Medical Center, which is a partner of Shriners Children’s Northern California.

The residents have lectures, discussions and labs where they do hands-on procedures with plastic bones and models. They practice elbow fractures, which are common in kids and often require fixation with a screw, and they do Ponseti casting for clubfoot. This somewhat newer procedure has revolutionized the treatment of this congenital deformity, among other conditions.

“Instructing residents in this small group format is engaging and inspiring,” said Vedant Kulkarni, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Shriners Children’s Northern California and Dr. Davids’ partner in putting the workshop on. “We see these residents as future leaders who ask the important questions that move our specialty forward.”

What does it all mean for patients – or prospective patients? With more highly trained physicians in the field, more kids can access the specialized orthopedic healthcare they need. Shriners Children’s is proud to provide the education and inspiration to make that a reality.

A demanding subspecialty

PediOrtho WEST helps residents engage in hands-on learning with plastic bones and models in addition to lectures, discussions and labs.

PediOrtho WEST is necessary, Dr. Davids said, because pediatrics is not given enough attention in

orthopedic training. Orthopedic residents in training generally receive less than a year of pediatrics, its conditions and procedures during their five-year residency. Sometimes, trainees receive only six months.

While fewer children need orthopedic care than adults do, their needs are unique. According to a 1998 medical article, nearly a third of all children’s medical visits are related to muscle and bone issues. Moreover, one in 10 children will need specialty orthopedic care before they are 18 years old.

In fact, as an orthopedics subspecialty, pediatrics is highly demanding. The conditions managed range from clubfoot to the hip problems of cerebral palsy. The procedures are also varied, from casting to spine surgery.