Fellowship in Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery

Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Orthopaedic Trauma Fellowship

Our Mission: To build a relationship with our orthopaedic trauma fellow through mentorship, thereby teaching the principles of orthopaedic trauma care in a comprehensive fashion.

Our Vision:  To have long lasting relationships with our fellows and for our fellows to embody the characteristics of a competent, caring orthopaedic trauma surgeon that is capable of making societal contributions in terms of orthopaedic trauma education, research and clinical work.


Our belief is that the fellowship year is a once in a lifetime educational opportunity, and we are the teachers charged with that responsibility.  The content to be mastered are the principles of academic orthopaedic trauma care.  It is our duty to create an environment that facilitates this mastery.  Our strategy is to engage the fellow in multiple different ways and create an active learner out of the fellow.

The Rutgers – New Jersey Medical School Orthopaedic Trauma Fellowship has its campus in Newark, New Jersey.  University Hospital is the ACS and state verified Level I Trauma Center for northern New Jersey and is the only clinical site for the fellowship.  There is a high volume of complex orthopaedic trauma cases; a full multidisciplinary team cares for polytrauma patients comprehensively.

The three orthopaedic traumatologists that comprise the Division of Orthopaedic Trauma are Mark C. Reilly MD, Michael S. Sirkin MD, and Mark R. Adams MD.  While the AO principles of orthopaedic trauma are adhered to and emphasized, each brings a unique perspective to surgical care, as they have different educational backgrounds.  Aside from patient care, their careers have prioritized surgeon education; all three have extensive training as surgeon educators through AO North America.  Naturally, education is the focus of the fellowship.  In addition to the education that occurs on the Newark campus, the fellow typically attends the AO fellows’ cadaver course, the AO Pelvis course, the Stryker Pelvis course, and the OTA annual meeting.

These three surgeons do not work independently – they take a team approach to orthopaedic trauma.  As the fellow is an integral member of this team, he is immersed in the thoughtful environment that is produced by the ongoing, constant conversation about quality patient care.  The responsibilities of the fellow gradually change over the year in all facets.  An increase in independence in the operating room is a great example of this gradual change over the course of the year.  The fellow also transitions into the role of an educator to the residents as the year progresses, which occurs through formal and informal opportunities.   Ideas for research frequently flow from the constant conversation occurring between members of the team; for the fellow interested in research there are numerous opportunities for basic science and clinical projects.

What you can expect here are great cases, great teachers and the time to hone your skills without abandoning your personal life. The three trauma attendings  are brilliant surgeons and terrific teachers. They are all AO faculty who know how to teach to your level and help you build on your knowledge and skills. I cannot say enough about their commitment to my education. They run trauma conference every day, pushing you to understand the subtleties of every injury so that you can formulate a comprehensive operative plan. They engage you in email chains for each case, preoperatively and postoperatively to ensure that you have an understanding of how they thought through a given case. They hold improptu individual case discussions with you, taking the time to draw out acetabular fractures on pelvic models to help you think through a complex case. Finally, in the operating room, they prioritized my education. I always scrubbed the most complex cases and was never asked to staff a second room while a more interesting case was under way.

Complementing these attendings, the complexity of the cases at University Hospital makes for a great fellowship year. My days were spent fixing difficult pelvic/acetabular injuries and smashed articular injuries rather than routine shaft fractures. Also, the case volume was not overwhelming. While having time to do plenty of cases, I also had sufficient time to plan for upcoming cases and reflect on cases after they had concluded. To me, this time was essential to my growth as a surgeon as it provided me the time to understand each surgery and figure out ways that I could improve in the future.

Lastly, this fellowship program is committed to maximizing your education and minimizing administrative tasks. This translates to a lot of operative time and minimal  time spent on paperwork. Furthermore, it gave me time to have a child during fellowship and be an engaged father as well as an engaged fellow. I would highly recommend this trauma fellowship.

James Richman
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