The Pathway to Orthopedic Surgery
Cassandra A. Lee, M.D. – November 22nd, 2019.
About the Speaker
Dr. Lee began her journey into the medical field in 2009. She attended college for three years and then attended medical school for four. Following that, she spent seven years doing her residency.
Dr. Lee is a native of Los Angeles but attended Boston University for one of their BA/MD combined programs. During her schooling, she went into orthopedic research and did some teaching on the MCAT.
Dr. Lee attended Wake Forest School of Medicine where she faced a good amount of gender prejudice, but felt it helped her to grow her confidence.
During Dr. Lee’s third year doing her residency, she obtained pro-sport exposure and had a chance to work on her outreach skills. Dr. Lee’s fellowship lasted for one year in which she had the chance to work on her team coverage skills and operative skills.
After getting through her fellowship, she’s had the opportunity to work in a number of different jobs. Her first job was as an assistant professor and she held that position for six year. Following that, she acted as an associate professor for more than four year and then acted as a residency program director for more than four years. She has also worked as the chief of her sports medicine for more than a year.
Generally, how do a person’s years of residency differ year-to-year?
She stated that a person’s first year doing a residency is their time to figure out what they’re doing. For those going into the orthopedic route, they start their actual work in orthopedics and taking care of patients during their second year. After their residency, they go through a fellowship. In sports medicine, those in their fellowship go over team coverage and operative skills.
What was the speaker’s view on California Northstate University?
Dr. Lee advised potential medical student that they should not attended Northstate for medical school. The reason for this is because it’s a school for profit and, because of this, it has an uneasy reputation and can get a person blackmarked when it comes to getting a career in the medical field after attending it.
Is there still stigma in becoming a DO over becoming an MD?
There is some stigma in becoming a DO, but that’s slowly starting to go away.
According to the speaker, what are the most important things that a person should do when getting into medical school?
Dr. Lee stated that the most important thing that a person can do in getting into medical school is to not look like everyone else. One thing a person can do to accomplish this is to pursue a degree that they’re truly passionate about instead of the usual general biology/science degrees (unless they are truly interested in those fields). She also stated that a person should volunteer at places that they also find interesting and brings them happiness and joy.
Something she added to this is that a person should know their own personality. A person should be sure that they truly want to pursue medicine because it’s a long road to become a doctor and can lead to burnout if a person isn’t careful.
Its also very helpful for a person looking to get into medicine to learn how to network and to find a mentor.
Does it matter where someone goes to medical school when it comes to finding a medical job in the United States? Does it also matter where a person goes for their graduate’s degree when it comes to going into medical school?
In order for someone to get into the medical field, a person needs to attend a top-tier medical school. This excludes for profit schools and school at the Caribbean. This may or may not exclude Ross University; Dr. Lee wasn’t aware of the status of this school.
To get into a good medical school, the school a person attends for their graduate degree matters, but this really isn’t the case for an undergrad degree. A person could obtain a bachelor’s degree at Sac State and qualify just as much as someone else who goes to UC Davis for their bachelor’s degree. However, if someone were to pursue medical school at Harvard, then undergraduate education would be a bigger factor.
Medical school applicants need at least a 500 on the MCAT to get in (and this is at least).
Why are required test scores to get into UC Davis medical school lower than other medical schools of a similar reputation?
The reason the test scores required to get into UC Davis medical school is lower than other schools is because UC Davis is a pro-minority school; they want minorities to attend so that they can better assist their home communities once they complete their needed schooling.
Are women underrepresented in orthopedics?
Its true that woman are a underrepresented category of workers in the orthopedic field, but Dr. Lee claimed that this will change. A sign of this is the fact that there are more women attending medical school currently than men.
What are the five hardest medical specialties to get into?
The five hardest medical specialties to get into are dermatology, plastic surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, and Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Medicine. This all comes to the fact that these professions provide the best pay and the best resulting lifestyle than any of the other medical professions.
However, this isn’t to say that they guarantee a comfortable lifestyle. Dr. Lee stated that she is one of the highest paid individuals in her profession, but, despite this, she expressed concerned that she may not have enough money to last her through retirement.
What is orthopedic surgery anyway?
Orthopedic Surgery is surgery that focuses on injuries of the muscular skeletal system. Essentially, it’s the treatment of damage and disease to moving body parts.
There are two sub-parts of orthopedic surgery: Reconstructive Surgery (which is focused on joint replacement) and Sports Medicine (which are injuries that are expected in sports-related activities).
What are the operative pathways to get into sports medicine?
Technically, the only operative way to get into sports medicine is through orthopedics, but there are a number of ways to get into it in non-operative forms.
What is it like being a woman in orthopedics?
Being a woman in orthopedics, as described by Dr. Lee, is “like being in a locker room [with a bunch of white] dudes.” For example, Dr. Lee is currently apart of two medical boards in her profession but is the non-white professional apart of either of them, let alone being the only woman in either of them. As of now, the total percentage of women in surgical orthopedics is 8-9%. The rates of women in this field are increasing, however.
What is Dr. Lee’s weekly schedule like?
Dr. Lee’s weekly schedule varies, but there are four consistencies as a part of them: clinical work, time in the operating room, research, and time spent in the training room helping potential medical professionals wanting to get into the field.
Does the UC Davis sports medical team take care of sports teams outside their school?
The UC Davis sports medical team takes care of a lot of sports team in California outside of their school. This includes the Sac Republic soccer team and one of the sports teams at ARC.
What are some surgical procedures that a person can do in orthopedics?
Some of the surgical work that an orthopedic surgeon can do includes meniscus replacement and shoulder repairs/replacements. They can also do joint resection and general reconstruction surgery.
According to Dr. Lee, what does it generally take to get into medical school?
Getting to medical school is a long road and take a long time. In order to succeed in getting through it, a person need to be adaptive to “go with the flow” when conditions require it. There are four qualities that Dr. Lee touched on that a potential medical professional needs to have: Tenacity, Dexterity, Curiosity, and Cooperation (i.e. being a team player).
Tenacity: Enduring through the road to medical school and beyond despite setbacks and failures.
Dexterity: Having a good use of one’s hands. A simple way to improve this quality is practicing how to tie notes. One things Dr. Lee did to improve her dexterity (and she is ambidextrous) is using her non-dominant hand to complete tasks that is typically performed with the dominant one.
Curiosity: Being willing to questions medicine and aspects of it (what can be done in it, etc.) despite it being a dogmatic practice.
Cooperation: Being able to work effectively with others (nurses, other doctors, scribes, etc.). This can include giving credit to others when they deserve it, but a person should be able to toot their horn when times call for it.
Who were some people that Dr. Lee found helpful in her path into the medical field?
People that helped Dr. Lee reach her medical goals included mentors she met during her medical journey as well as her parents.
An additional figure that keep Dr. Lee’s spirits high was Gary Pailing who is, according to Dr. Lee, a godfather in the field of orthoscopy. Dr. Lee considers him the reason she got into sports medicine in the first place.
Generally, how does one year of a person’s medical residency differ from another.
The first year of a person’s residency is called the internship where a person learns the basics of what a medical professional does in their chosen field. The second and third year is when a person studies a subspecialty (except in orthopedics where this is covered in a person’s fourth year). People in orthopedics also have a fifth year of residency where they obtain experience in the operation room.
What is pay like for a typical doctor?
According to Dr. Lee, “[p]ay’s kinda crap” as a medical professional. As a first-year resident, pay can be low as a a person working as a crew member at Burger King. A typical doctor can earn up to 40-50k per year, but that’s the higher end of pay. Dr. Lee’s pay is $35K a year.
What is the general cost of attending medical school?
The cost of medical school is $50K a year and typically requires loans to pay for. Some school can defer loan payments and some even provide loan forgiveness programs, such as PRIME for underrepresented minorities.
How many medical residency programs does a person generally apply to?
A potential resident today applies to an average of about 80 programs.
What are Dr. Lee’s thoughts on medical school in the Caribbean?
Dr. Lee discouraged the club members from trying to get into medical school in the Caribbean. They can make getting a medical job difficult and Dr. Lee only knows of one person who has studies at one of these schools and received a medical job in the states.
When should a person generally start volunteering?
Dr. Lee stated that a person should begin volunteering when they have their academics stabilized. A person shouldn’t start volunteering until they know it won’t put their grades at risk.
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