Review Detail

8.4 2 10
Arizona August 28, 2007 20874
Strong Research with variable clinical training
(Updated: February 02, 2015)
Overall rating
Staff Surgeons
Operating Experience
Clinical Experience
Overall Experience

Program Review

Staff / Faculty / Chairman
This is a community program that is based out of Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, but residents actually spend little time there. The faculty are all community volunteers and there is no in house orthopaedic service. Dr. McLaren is the program director and has built the program from the ground up after the Phoenix program at Maricopa County Hospital got shut down. He is present for the didactics and is a non-clinical physician. He had an injury that precludes his ability to operate. He is very involved and has good ties to the orthopaedic community in Phoenix, bringing in strong faculty. The program would essentially be nothing without him.
Didactics / Teaching
Since the residents are at many different sites, there is one afternoon of didactics per week and this is the opportunity for residents to be social with each other. The residents teach each other the topics and attendings are not present, with the exception of Dr. McLaren. The hospitals may have their own morning didactics for the ortho service that only the residents on service at that location attend, but these are dominated by attendings, rather than residents.
Operating Experience
Since the program is the apprenticeship model, operative experience differs based on the attending. My experience was that is was pretty 50/50. Some residents took the lead on the case, while others held retractors and closed, even as a third and fourth year. At other programs, seniors teach the juniors without an attending scrubbed, but this does not happen at this program. It is rare that two residents are scrubbed into a case together. It is usually the attending, a resident, a PA, and sometimes a medical student.
Clinic Experience
Clinic is clinic and the amount of time spent in clinic is, again, based on which attending the resident is assigned to. They follow that attending's schedule. For most services (I observed several) it switches between 2-3 operative days.
Research Opportunities
There are many research opportunities. Dr. McLaren has made this the strength of the program. Residents have publications by the end and land prestigious fellowships because of it. Pubmed search the residents and you will be impressed by the quality of the research. Residents are required to complete a project each year. There are opportunities at Phoenix Children's, Mayo, and doing more basic science work with Dr. McLaren at Banner. There is a full time PhD researcher who helps with projects and running stats. Easily the biggest strength of the program. There is dedicated research time during two years of the program.
The residents are down to earth and pretty friendly. Not super female friendly (only one female resident since program started) according to rotators I met. They have diverse backgrounds. Many are married and some have children. There are no fellows. Phoenix Children's has a fellowship spot and matched a fellow for next year.
The lifestyle is pretty good. Since there is no in house ortho service, residents take home call for the different hospitals. This can mean a long night and then a regular work day the next day or just taking care of a few things from home. Even though the hours aren't that bad, the research demands contribute significantly to their workload.
Location / Housing
Housing in Phoenix is relatively inexpensive. There are some rough areas, but there is affordable housing in the suburbs. Most residents live in central to north Phoenix, since that's where most of the community hospitals are located.
The program is weak in trauma, which is surprising considering that it is the only ortho program in the large city of Phoenix. With a good proportion of the time spent at Mayo Scottsdale, there is less of your typical trauma population. Since it is a community program, it is much less traditional. These services would run without the residents. That can be luxurious. Residents also comment that they dislike how much research they have to do and that they really only get to socialize with each other on the one didactic afternoon. Mayo has the most residents at one time, but they are all on different services and do not interact with each other often. University of Arizona Phoenix is in town, but the program doesn't have a strong relationship with the school. This is a missed opportunity to make the program more academic. There are big changes happening this year for the program that really could make or break the program. Some faculty don't think it will make a big difference, while others think it's the beginning of the end.
Overall Rotation Experience / Conclusion
Overall, I would be happy to match at this program. Your personal interests would determine whether you would be a good fit for this program. The ability to publish high quality research almost guarantees a good fellowship, but weak trauma experience and a high number of clinical sites remind you that it's a non-traditional community program. The program now accepts four residents and has a program director that is fully dedicated to improving the program. There is talk that the program is undergoing big changes this next year with a big orthopaedic group moving into Banner Good Samaritan hospital and this instability was brought up to me at other programs when I told them I was interested in this program. There is huge concern that this group will take over the program and their poor reputation with the current clinical faculty will result in those faculty pulling their ties with the program. I think McLaren will not let the program fail and it will all work out.


I rotated as a medical student at this program
Date of Rotation
Fall 2012
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