AO North America News
November 2012 Issue 31
2011 Martin Allgöwer Fellowship Award Experience Sharing a Passion for Trauma Excellence with Surgeons Around the World Brian Cross, DO Director, Orthopedic Trauma Service Broward Health Medical Center Assistant Professor Department of Orthopedics NOVA Southeastern University
The Martin Allgöwer fellowship was, by far, the most rewarding and enriching experience of my professional career to date. As a result of this fellowship, I was able to spend four months, September through December of 2011, in Bern, Switzerland, studying both pediatric trauma and adult and pediatric hip preservation surgery under Dr. Theddy Slongo and Prof. Klaus Siebenrock. I was able to observe and participate in cutting edge procedures that were performed by true masters of their craft, including periacetabular osteotomies, the modified Dunn procedure, new techniques for acetabular fracture surgery, and deformity correction surgery. It was the first opportunity I have had since my trauma fellowship at UPMC to concentrate solely on my professional growth and development as a physician, and it was truly an invaluable experience. Upon my return, I was able to apply my experience to expand and develop my practice in a manner, which, without this time in Bern, would have been impossible. The Swiss surgeons and staff were incredibly accommodating and friendly, and while the transition to living abroad was not easy, the AO staff made it a very pleasant and worthwhile experience. There was an easy exchange of ideas, and I was able to teach and influence the Insel faculty as much as they taught me. Although I was technically an “outsider,” the doctors and staff made me feel immediately welcome and “part of the AO Team”. The academic portion of the experience, however, was only a part of the whole. I cannot begin to explain to you the value of living abroad and being totally immersed in another culture. This fellowship gave me the opportunity to take my wife, Shelly, and my then 5-year-old daughter, Casey, with me, and allowed them the same opportunity that I had to learn, grow and appreciate other countries, cultures and traditions. One of the fondest memories I will ever have is spending Christmas in Bern with Casey and Shelly in our small but beautiful apartment on the bank of the Aare River in Bern.
We had the opportunity to travel to Davos while we were there and experience the annual AO meeting. It was a great educational and social opportunity to interact and share ideas with surgeons from all over the world. I even had the opportunity to discuss treatment options for pilon fractures with Dr. Thomas Ruedi! What an experience! The most valuable part of the whole fellowship was without a doubt the interaction with like-minded surgeons from all over the world. While I was there, I worked and studied with fellows from Bulgaria, Brazil, the UK, Egypt, Kuwait, Malaysia and Japan, in addition to the many Swiss and German surgeons. I soon came to realize that we all have the same problems, the same concerns, the same interests and the same passion for our patients and for our profession. In the US, sometimes we all suffer from the closed-minded opinion that “we do it best”. This fellowship and the AO have erased that perspective and have opened my mind in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. I met colleagues from all over the world who are master surgeons, who have taught me incredible lessons, who have made me a better surgeon and who will be friends for life; and my family and I anxiously await our next opportunity to return to Switzerland to continue this amazing and life changing journey.