Experience of an OFAC Fellow

August 13, 2012
This blog was written by our recent outgoing visiting fellow, Dr. Michael Dujela, who currently is Director at Western Washington Foot & Ankle Surgeons and Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery at Providence Hospital, Centralia, Washington. Why did I apply to Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Center (OFAC) for an advanced visiting Foot and Ankle Fellowship? Quite simply because it is one of the premier foot and ankle focused surgical practices in North America, if not in the world today.  After 10 years of clinical practice, I had the pleasure of returning to complete an advanced visiting foot and ankle fellowship with the surgeons at OFAC.  I spent 3 and a half months participating in surgery, clinic and research. 
During my fellowship, I participated in several hundred operations; an amazing experience to say the least.  I had the chance to see cutting edge techniques, many of which were developed by the surgeons at OFAC including a new type of total ankle joint replacement and many new surgical implants used in fracture repair and complex deformity repair.  Patients come from all over the country to seek the expert care of Dr. BerletDr. HyerDr. Lee and Dr. Philbin. I recall being amazed early on when a patient arrived via private jet from out of state to see Dr. Berlet for an ankle problem she was having. It was an amazing experience to have the opportunity to work with surgeons from other countries such as several contingents from China who came to learn these cutting edge techniques.  Visiting surgical scholars come from all around the world to learn the most advanced protocols to take back to their home nations.  The volume of patients that we are exposed to as fellows was incredible. Approximately 700 patients per week are seen in the clinic, and over 60 major surgical procedures done per week at Dublin Methodist Hospital and Polaris Surgery Center through the OhioHealth System. Highlights of my fellowship included the opportunity to do several research studies with Dr. Hyer and Dr. Berlet using the OFAC database of a complex type of fusion procedure. OFAC currently has likely done more of these procedures than any other hospital in the world today; greater than 220. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet with design engineers who flew in from Germany to seek the expertise of Drs Berlet, Hyer and Lee on a new type of absorbable fixation device that replaces the need for metal implants after bunion surgical correction. We had the pleasure of seeing OFAC surgeon, Dr. Berlet, serve as the director of the Annual meeting of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society where over 600 surgeons attended from around the world to hear the latest research.  OFAC fellows, Drs Ekroth, Dr. Scott and Dr. Morrow as well as attending surgeons Dr. Hyer and Dr. Philbin, gave podium presentations in addition to sharing a large number of research poster presentations. One of the most amazing aspects of my experience at OFAC was the genuine deep camaraderie that develops between the fellows and attendings.  Each week we had the opportunity to meet together whether it be for an academic meeting, x-ray conference or simply a great laugh filled dinner to talk over upcoming cases, new ideas, or methods of increasing efficiency.  It was a great opportunity to learn the OFAC model and the constant attention and nurturing that goes into making this a ground breaking “Center of Excellence.” In short, this was one of the best possible experiences for my family and I, both personally and professionally. I now have a perfect understanding of the concept of “The OFAC Family” and appreciate the incredible opportunity I was given.  I am leaving here with a significant expansion in my skill set, equipped to take care of the most complex problems because of the generosity and expertise of these world leading surgeons. After two prior fellowships in Germany and Switzerland with some of the most well known orthopedic foot and ankle surgeons in the world, I believe I have a good point of comparison.  “World Class” is definitely synonymous with the quality of surgeons and staff of the Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Center and I am exceptionally grateful for the opportunity that they have given me. To learn more about the OFAC Fellowship Programs, click here.
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