Hue Luu, MD, is clearing his schedule this spring. That’s when the University of Chicago Medicine orthopaedic surgeon will spend five weeks visiting academic medical centers in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand as part of the prestigious American-British-Canadian (ABC) Traveling Fellowship.
Luu, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and associate director of the molecular oncology lab, will be the fourth UChicago Medicine physician to participate in the ABC Fellowship for physicians certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. The fellowship has been called one of the “highest honors” for young academic orthopaedists.
Douglas R. Dirschl, MD, chairman of UChicago Medicine’s department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitative Medicine participated in 2001, as did Michael Simon, MD, and Rex Haydon, MD, PhD, who were fellows in 1983 and 2005, respectively.
The fellowship traces its roots to the period after World War II when surgeons in North American and the UK wanted to continue the collaboration that began during the war when doctors shared ideas and techniques related to battlefield injuries. In 1948, the first group of British surgeons traveled to the U.S. and Canada. The following year, a group of North American physicians visited Great Britain. Eventually the effort was expanded to include surgeons from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
ScienceLife asked Luu to talk about the fellowship and how he hopes it will change his research and clinical practice.
Q: Why did you decide to apply?
A: I thought it was a wonderful opportunity in terms of professional development. It’s a great chance to meet and collaborate with orthopaedists internationally. The American Orthopaedic Association is an organization that prides itself on education and leadership. This fellowship is something that’s really centered on that and allows an academic orthopaedist to develop in both areas.
Q: What part of the experience are you most looking forward to?
A: I’m most excited to see other programs and learn how they do things with respect to education and leadership. And also to see nuances in orthopaedics: we all do things differently and there’s many ways to accomplish similar goals. Seeing a different perspective will be a great experience, so we I can learn from it and potentially incorporate it into our program here at the University of Chicago.
Q: Have you been to the countries you’ll be visiting?
A: I haven’t been to any of those places, so I’m excited to see them! The exact schedule hasn’t been announced yet, but we’ll be visiting major academic medical centers in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. These are well-recognized and outstanding academic orthopaedic programs.
Q: What are you hoping to get out of the experience? How do you think it will inform or change your practice here at the University of Chicago?
A: One of the major goals is to meet leaders in the field internationally as well as meet with other orthopaedic surgeons who share my common interests. And the other (goal) is to learn from them. Whether it will completely change my practice or not, really depends on what I gather from those sites. While I suspect there won’t be any major changes, I think we can always improve on how we teach our residents, how we teach our fellows and how we teach our med students. Seeing how things are done elsewhere will always help us and give us a perspective on doing things better.
And from a surgical perspective, there are many different ways to accomplish a similar goal. We pick up things here or there to improve our technique or improve how we manage our patients, either clinically or in surgery. So I think it will be a chance to see some new things.
Q: This fellowship started in the wake of World War II in order to ensure physicians continued to share ideas and techniques. In the age of the internet, why is it still important to foster these sorts of relationships?
A: I think it’s important to have that (personal) relationship, which carries a lot of weight. These are surgeons that we interact with at national meetings and we can collaborate with to conduct research. To have that personal relationship allows us to conduct collaborative research, or share data that one institution has collected over a number of years. I think it fosters mutual research with different institutions. Which ultimately trickles down to patients with new developments, new findings and new ways to treat orthopaedic problems.