University of Iowa College of Medicine - Medical Scientist Training Program
Yale-New Haven Hospital - Department of Internal Medicine internship
University of Wisconsin - Department of Orthopedic Surgery residency
Currently, I am an orthopedic surgery resident after a long educational path which included research and fieldwork in Africa. Along the way, I chosen different directions my career and have found a niche in orthopedics. I love orthopedic surgery because you can use your energy and mind to heal, relatively instantly, as compared to other fields of medicine that I have studied. It fulfills my need for instant gratification, while helping people. It is never boring, as it requires you to be constantly using your hands in the operating room, working with tools, or running to examine the many patients in clinic. The operating room is filled with intense energy and camaraderie, much like team sports. The friends that I have made in residency will be lifelong friends because of the experiences we have been through as residents. I wanted to work in a career where I truly felt that teamwork is prized. The worst part of being a resident is inherent to the learning process, making mistakes. We all hate making mistakes. At the same time, when you do it well, it feels fantastic.
In orthopedics, the field is wide open for research opportunities. Currently, I am exploring the effects of biofactors on soft tissue healing. This involves working with cartilage cells grown on plates in the laboratory as well as performing spine surgeries on rabbits. Through these experiments, we hope to find novel factors that will facilitate disc and cartilage regeneration. I am also working on clinical research exploring the outcomes of current technologies in spine surgery, including anterior surgical approaches to the spine as well as the quality of x-rays in spine trauma. Research has become more exciting to me during my orthopedic surgery residency because I can see a future where I can literally take what we discover in the lab into the operating room or clinic to help patients. I would not be fulfilled by a career that only places me in the laboratory. It would be too quiet and slow for me there.
So my typical day starts out with morning rounds and conferences in the hospital to see the postoperative patients, then I go either to clinic, the operating room, or the laboratory. When the regular day is done, I might be on trauma call for orthopedics. Call nights involve anything from sports-related injuries to multiple-vehicle car accidents. Again, it is all hands-on. Busy nights are tiring and painful, but also exciting.
The field of orthopedic surgery is changing all the time. We now use new technology, developed over the last ten years, in the operating room that allows us to improve outcomes and get patients back on their feet sooner, including better implants, computer assisted surgical techniques, and instruments designed for minimally invasive techniques. Over the next ten years, the influence of biofactors in bony and soft tissue healing, in traumatic and surgical wounds, will become prevalent. And importantly, as a female Korean in orthopedic surgery, I anticipate that over the next ten years I will be meeting more females interested in orthopedic surgery.