Dr. Bruce Fletcher was born and raised in south Florida. He studied, as an undergrad, at the University of Miami where he found the journey to become a medical student very competitive. Part 1 of our series revealed how only a fraction of applicants are accepted into medical school. US News and World Report recently published an article with data that less than 7% of applicants to 115 ranked medical schools were accepted. The approval process is very competitive and strenuous. However Dr. Fletcher found, upon admission into medical school, the whole academic atmosphere changed. While the necessity to be highly focused remained; the mentality that you must excel above everyone in order to get into medical school no longer existed since you have already arrived. There was more comradery and an “everyone was in the same boat” approach. After medical school he went on to complete a residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital followed by a fellowship in arthroscopic surgery and sports medicine in Washington, DC. These experiences provided him with the confidence to feel he could “tackle anything.” Below is a little bit about his journey from undergrad, medical student, to orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Fletcher will also discuss hopes for his shadowing students and his vision for the future of the practice.
1. What made you decide to get into the field of medicine/orthopedics?
“I was not sure exactly what field of medicine I wanted to go into in the beginning. Initially I thought I would go into internal medicine. However; once I did my orthopedic rotation as a medical student I found the field to be very rewarding, in particular sports medicine. In sports medicine you find a patient has a specific problem; you treat the problem, either through surgery or physical therapy, and you are able to return them to their previous level of functionality. I found this aspect to be very gratifying. ”
2. What was the most memorable/beneficial experience during your training?
“Training at the University of Miami afforded me the ability to see almost everything as a resident. Therefore; when I left training I felt very confident in my ability to handle almost any situation and capable to treat to numerous orthopedic complications.”
3. What did you find to be most difficult aspect of being a student?
“During medical school I was both vice president and class president; as a consequence trying to maintain both a social and academic life was challenging. It was important to remain focused and disciplined during that time.”
4. What do you look for in an ideal candidate for shadowing?
“A motivated and focused student who is personable, inquisitive, and has a pleasant demeanor with the patients would be the best candidate.”
5. What led you to the decision to offer a shadowing position to the students?
“I like to share my knowledge and experience with the hope that it will help the student in their future endeavors.”
6. What do you hope the students gain from this opportunity?
“I want the students to gain insight into the office environment. Medical school and residency training provides very minimal exposure to the private practice. The majority of rotations are done in the hospital setting; so this will give them a feel into what it is like onsite in a medical office. Also, I hope the experience will help them decide if this is truly what they would like to do. After medical school you are usually in your mid 20s then, normally, anywhere from 3 to 6 years of additional training in residency is required; therefore, you finish at the age of 30 or 31 years old and can begin to lead your normal life. This career entails a tremendous time commitment.”
PAST AND FUTURE:
7. Since you started NWBO over 20 years ago, what do you feel has been the most significant change in the practice of medicine?
The advancements in techniques and instrumentation have been tremendous. There also is a better understanding of the function of the joints. For instance; the shoulder is one of the most complicated joints because it is basically suspended and has to be held in place. Improvements in techniques combined with additional studies have provided a better understanding of the different ligaments and structures around the shoulder and their actual function. Not only did our understanding of anatomy evolve but the quality of diagnostic images significantly improved; advancing over the past several years and enabling better visualization of the structures thereby facilitating diagnosis and treatment. The comparison of grainy images in the past with today’s constantly evolving, high-definition digital pictures is like night and day. These technological improvements have aided in the accuracy of diagnoses and limit surprises at the time of surgery. Over the past five years, all of these combined factors have led to dramatic improvements in arthroscopic surgery. It is a very rewarding time for both the patients and the physician.”