February 2003 Bulletin

Spanish surgeons win OLC scholarships

By Carolyn Rogers

At its September 2002 annual meeting, the Spanish Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (SECOT) kicked off its new Orthopaedic Learning Center (OLC) scholarship program by awarding three SECOT member surgeons with scholarships to attend the AAOS OLC training course of their choice. The SECOT scholarships are funded through pharmaceutical companies and private foundations in Spain.


Juan Rapariz, MD, (left) accepts his scholarship award at the Sept. 2002 SECOT meeting in Barcelona, Spain. To Dr. Rapariz left is Marisa McCarren, AAOS manager of international programs; Fernando Gomez-Castresana, 2002 SECOT president; and Antonio Perez-Caballer, 2002 SECOT ecretary

The inspiration for the new scholarship program came about earlier in 2002, while the Academy was considering a possible Madrid showing of the Academy’s E-Motion art exhibit. Through their discussions, AAOS international department staff and SECOT leadership found several areas of common interest that led them to work closely on several cooperative efforts—one effort resulting in the SECOT OLC scholarship program.

SECOT leadership was very pleased with the number of applications submitted for the 2002 scholarships and plans to offer the awards again in 2003.

In addition to an OLC course, two of the scholarship winners also took part in observership programs at local Chicago-area hospitals. The AAOS international department was able to arrange for observerships with Loyola University Affiliate Hospitals in Maywood, Ill., and Rush-Presbyterian-St.-Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago.

"Open spirit of discussion"

Scholarship award winner Juan Rapariz, MD, of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, was pleased to participate in both an observership program and an OLC training course. Dr. Rapariz attended the Nov. 21-23, 2002 revision hip replacement program at the OLC—his first course with the Academy.

Several aspects of the OLC course experience took Dr. Rapariz by surprise.

"When I first arrived at the lab, I was very surprised to see the cadaver parts, and also at how few students were assigned to each faculty member," he says. "This was very impressive for me."

Dr. Rapariz also was struck by "the very interactive, very open spirit of discussion" throughout the course. "Courses are much more formal in Spain and elsewhere in Europe," he says. "And most faculty don’t tell you their ‘tricks’— That’s top secret!"

One of the faculty members Dr. Rapariz especially enjoyed meeting was Miguel E. Cabanela, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Dr. Rapariz knew Dr. Cabanela by reputation, but was pleasantly surprised to discover they were both born in the Galicia region of Spain.

Like "no other course in the world"

In terms of the course itself, Dr. Rapariz reports it was "very instructive."

"In the hospital where I finished my residency, everyone performs the same approach to hip replacement—there are few options," he says. "So it was very instructive for me to learn about other techniques."

Dr. Rapariz made sure to take some photographs during the course to show SECOT members when he returned home. "There is no other course like this in the world," he says. "It’s unique. No other orthopaedic society can afford new implants for a course…and they’re not going to use these implants again—not even for another course!"

Although Dr. Rapariz had been prepared for an excellent course from the Academy, he wasn’t sure what to expect from his two-day observership at Loyola University Hospitals. That experience turned out to be a beneficial one, as well.

Dr. Rapariz was warmly welcomed at Loyola, and he was able to observe a variety of procedures and techniques during his time there. After one morning in the O.R., his American physician/mentor Guido Marra, MD, even brought Dr. Rapariz back to his home to have lunch with his family.

"Dr. Marra was very kind to me," say Dr. Rapariz, "and [the observership] was very well organized."

A full schedule also awaited Gonzalo Mora, MD, of Valencia, Spain, when he arrived in Chicago on Dec. 5, 2002. Dr. Mora attended the Dec. 6-7 elbow arthroscopy and fractures course at the OLC, followed by a five-day observership at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago. His American physician-mentor was Academy member Anthony A. Romeo, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Rush.

Like Dr. Rapariz, Dr. Mora found the visit to be educational and "very rewarding."

Pedro V. Delgado, MD, a fifth-year resident from Madrid, Spain, attended the Nov. 8-10, 2002 hand and wrist course at the OLC. This was not only Dr. Delgado’s first Academy course— it was his first visit to the United States as well.

Although Dr. Delgado is studying musculoskeletal tumors, pediatric orthopaedics and hand surgery, he chose the OLC "hand and wrist" course because he’s fascinated by hand surgery—calling it "a fine art." In particular, he enjoys the anatomical aspects of hand surgery, as well as incorporating knowledge about all the situations that can affect the hand, such as trauma, congenital deformities, tumors, etc.

In the future, Dr. Delgado says he "hopes to study in Boston, Mass., or at the Mayo Clinic," in Rochester, Minn.

Like the other award recipients, Dr. Delgado was very thankful and appreciative of the efforts made by international department staff—from making hotel arrangements, providing detailed information on the course, even to providing the weather forecast and advice on what clothes to pack.

Although he wasn’t able to partake in an observership, Dr. Delgado says he was very pleased with his experience at the OLC course. In particular, he enjoyed the opportunity "to meet the surgeons I’ve studied in my textbooks."

Across the board, the scholars agreed that their visits exceeded their high expectations. All three surgeons looked forward to returning home to share their experience with colleagues, and to returning to the OLC for another course in the near future.


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