Superspecialists or super generalist orthopods?

in Orthopedics/Training by

This question was thrown to us by one former orthopedic mentor during our lively deli-beer-ations post surgery. The discussion came about as we were thanking them for extending time and effort to do an instructional course on their field of specialty. I added that these orthopedic courses should bring up the level of our general orthopedics training and entice some residents to go on a sub specialty training. I added that this is one of the training  thrust of our department  Commending our training program, he then posted these question to us:

  1. Does your locality need  super specialist orthopedic surgeons? Do we have sufficient orthopedics cases to sustain this super specialist field?
  2. How many (percentages)of these sub specialty cases are done by generalist orthopods themselves?
  3. Having trained in a general orthopedics program, can do these cases even without sub specialty training?

The question went further into this. “Do you need a super generalist (should mean a generalist with a higher level of skills and expertise on all areas of orthopedics) or a super specialist (capable of doing rare cases but couldn’t do other general orthopedic surgeries) orthopedic surgeons?

The super generalist is commonly a product of an institution with a multi specialty orthopedics in place. The various sub specialty rotation gave these residents an “edge” receiving a “higher” level of training in all orthopedic sub specialties. Some institutions only have a few of these sub specialty training and thus a general orthopedic can only gain more skills by training elsewhere where a specific sub specialty training is available.

For sure, we wanted our program to produce better orthopedic surgeons, a super generalist in a sense. A generalist with a higher and broad level of skills not just in one orthopedic sub specialty but in all other as well.To do that, we need to complement our teaching staff with orthopedic sub specialist, a kind of irony but necessary step towards achieving this goal.

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (