Orthopedic surgery is one of the most competitive medical specialties. These surgeons work to fix musculoskeletal issues, for instance like a torn ACL in an athlete or perform a hip replacement in an elderly patient with osteoarthritis. If you have a sports injury or are in need of an orthopedic surgeon, you will probably find yourself googling “best orthopedic surgeons”. But how do you actually know somebody is the best at what they do? Coming from a non-medical background it is incredibly difficult to work out whether somebody is truly the best. But new research gives us a sneak peek into the inner workings of those that are at the top of the orthopedics game.
A recent study by doctors in Canada looked at what makes a highly successful orthopedic surgeon. It was published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, so is probably inaccessible to the average patient looking up the best orthopedic surgeons. The authors looked to those at the top of the profession, those with academic departmental chairs, journal editors, past or current presidents of major orthopedic associations. They defined these are the best as they had risen to the very top of the profession, and presumably, the best surgeons will have similar characteristics as these doctors (but may be much younger and not have reached such heights yet). This information should be accessible to the general public, so below is a list of characteristic identified by the Doctors that you should look out for.
- Research Research Research: The authors found that 30% had over 100 publications of book chapters, clinical research etc. Being involved in pushing the practice forward, in a sense being an innovator, was significantly associated with success. Look out for doctors who are heavily involved in research.
- They want to be the best at surgery, not the richest: This might be slightly harder to spot, but these individuals were identified as having a desire to develop themselves as surgeons much more than they were interested in financial gain.
- Are they happy?: Happiness was identified as the third characteristic. Those that enjoyed the work they did were likely to be successful.
- Healthy Lifestyle: Again, this might be slightly difficult to identify in prospective surgeons, but a healthy lifestyle seemed to correlate with being a successful surgeon. Presumably, those that know how to look after themselves also know how to look after you.
Other things to look out for
However, the study does note that it did not take into account patient experience and statistics on surgeries. Therefore they did not account for some things in the survey. Other things to look out for in the best doctors could be:
- Patient satisfaction: It’s not everything, but it can be a real indicator of a fantastic doctor. Many sites provide reviews to look through of physicians in your area. Also look out for Docs who have been awarded Patients Choice Awards. Those with multiple awards have shown year on year satisfaction in their patients.
- Years of experience: Again, it’s not everything and some less experienced surgeons can be fantastic, but it’s definitely something to take into consideration.
In conclusion, meet prospective surgeons and look at their careers holistically to make a decision.