Sheanna Maine, MD
Mauro Núñez, MD
Regardless of our background, place of training or experience, we all have a common goal, to be able to offer our patients the best in terms of diagnostic certainty, timely and adequate treatment to improve their quality of life.
Fellowship programs serve this purpose by seeking expertise in a specific area within our specialty. These programs have shown their value by significantly shortening the learning curve of those who have studied them.
While this holds true for established academic programs that usually last for a period of one year, we did not know exactly what to expect from a Traveling Fellowship, much less what the similarities might be, nor the dissimilar areas in comparison to a formal academic programs.
Our itinerary included 2 continents, three countries and 5 centers, visited over 4 weeks.
We started with a week-long visit to Minneapolis, Minnesota with Dr. Elizabeth Arendt, followed by a flying visit to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, with Dr Andrew Cosgarea and Dr Miho Tanaka. In that same week we traveled to our second country Canada, specifically to Banff to visit Dr Laurie Hiemstra.
Back in the USA we visited the Hospital for Special Surgery (New York City) during a week where we were hosted by Drs Beth Shubin-Stein, Sabrina Strickland and Daniel Green.
The opportunity to pause and mull over the learning experience gave us much to think about and many more questions to ask.
A few months later we started our journey to Asia, destination Kobe, Japan; where we visited Dr Ryosuke Kuroda.
Ultimately, our perspective on the patellofemoral joint has been coloured by our experiences. While we still do not know all the answers, we now have the benefit of many different views that we can draw upon to analyse and enrich our philosophy on management of its associated pathologies.
We believe that the Patellofemoral Traveling Fellowship (PFTF) is a unique experience from an academic point of view and it is an exceptional networking resource for all those surgeons who wish to enter this exciting field.
Perhaps part of the success of this program lies in its rigorous selection process, which allows candidates to be selected with intermediate or even advanced experience and a proven academic background and interest in the area. Another advantage of this program is the flexibility, the selected fellows coordinate dates, places and potential hosts to visit, being able to build an experience tailored to their academic needs and interests.
Although there is a fixed amount of money provided by the Patellofemoral Foundation, it is common for fellows to incur expenses somewhat higher than the maximum amount granted, in order to maximize their own experience.
ISAKOS 2019, Cancún, México
During the biennial recently held in Cancun, Mexico, we closed our PFTF with a presentation highlighting the most relevant academic and social moments of this experience.
The true spirit of this presentation was to pay a well-deserved tribute to the various hosts involved in PFTF, both for their willingness to impart the most relevant concepts in the patellofemoral field, as well as for the hospitality demonstrated at all times in the socio-cultural sphere.
The academic component of the fellowship was not didactic and did not involve a set of approved learning objectives. Our hosts gathered various clinical cases in order to demonstrate their analysis of information which enabled us to learn how to extract the most relevant information for clinical decision making. They openly showed us not only the successful cases but they also shared their complications and showed us how they dealt with them. We were able to observe immediate results, as well as long-term follow-ups, all in order to to help us form our personal decision making algorithms in record time.
The PFTF also gave us the opportunity to be involved with the Patellofemoral Study Group (PFSG), a group dedicated to clinical investigation of patellofemoral pathology in search of offering more and better quality treatment options.
In conclusion, the PFTF constituted a unique academic, networking and cultural opportunity. Our genuine interest in deepening our understanding of PF pathology, was mirrored by our hosts and inspired us to continue investigating the development of patellofemoral pathology while appreciating the diversity of management strategies in our current surgical sphere.