Review Detail

9.3 8 10
Illinois August 15, 2007 21979
(Updated: December 10, 2011)
Overall rating
Staff Surgeons
Operating Experience
Clinical Experience
Overall Experience

Program Review

Staff / Faculty / Chairman
The faculty here is amazing. They have superstars in every field, and they are deep (at least 3 in each field except Peds (see below), 8 joints, 7 sports, 7 spine, etc). Chairman Dr. Jacobs is very approachable and is well-known within the AAOS. Program Director Dr. Virkus is resident proactive and works with the residents at both Rush and Cook (for trauma). Only weakness here might be Peds because they only have 1 faculty member at Rush, but the residents also go to Shriners so they are well-covered there.
Didactics / Teaching
Intake conference every morning before clinic/OR going over the previous night's ED cases, followed by a short faculty-led specialty conference. Grand rounds each week (run by faculty, resident, or guest). Protected time fracture/basic science and sports conferences every Monday night - these can seem long but are definitely useful, and food is usually provided. As a rotator, I was not pimped at conferences but still tried to prepare, just in case. Conferences in general were not malignant, and pretty helpful overall. Residents here clearly know their orthopaedics.
Operating Experience
This has been known as a weakness at Rush, and I disagree. I honestly think the residents operate as well as their peers around the country. Bottom line - this place is one of the highest volume institutions in the country. More volume = more cases. Yes, they have a lot of fellows, but they run some of the best fellowships in the country, which means that as junior residents, you can actually learn from the fellows, instead of just watch/stand behind them. Their PGY2's don't operate as much as at some other programs I saw, but they are certainly competent with their hands and operative knowledge base, and they run their own rooms as PGY5's. As the previous reviewer noted - this is a private practice run within Rush University, and as such, the case-load is high. That said, I found the senior residents to be actively doing the majority of cases when working with attendings (not just the approach as the previous reviewer stated), and the junior residents being led through cases when working with the senior cases. As a student, I routinely DID get the close and actually participate a little in some cases. To be fair, for complex cases (this is Rush, they get complex cases referred to them all the time in a variety of specialties), the attendings were definitely running the show. Trauma at Rush can be a relative weakness, but they make up for this by doing trauma at Cook County as well as at Rockford as PGY5's. As mentioned above, there is only 1 Peds attending at Rush, but the residents work at Shriners to make up for this.
Clinic Experience
Clinic experience was very solid. Residents are in clinic 1-2 days/week, and were seeing their own patients, analyzing images, coming up with plans, etc. Clinic is very fast-paced, but enough time for teaching points between patients. Maybe not in 2007 when the previous reviewer rotated, but on my rotation residents routinely dictated. Residents are super smart with regard to orthopaedics, and clinic seemed like where they were augmenting their knowledge base.
Research Opportunities
Research powerhouse, publication city. Check pubmed for Rush ortho pubs. Clearly well-funded and well-supported. Amazing biomechanics, histology, animal, and basic biology labs. Not only do these guys put out papers, but the faculty (and often residents) are giving talks (both on basic research and course lectures) each year at AAOS as well as the subspecialty conferences, so it isn't just research for publication sake - they are actively teaching the rest of the orthopedic community. Three months dedicated time in PGY3 which some residents use for research, others not so much. Despite being a research powerhouse, I didn't get the vibe that the residents were pressured to produce - it was just simply at their fingertips if they wanted it.
Amazing group of people. This, above anything else, was why I liked the program so much. Tons of respect and camaraderie both within and between classes. I didn't get a sense of hierarchy at all. Seems like they all hang out together, again both within and between the classes. Good mix of married/single. For me, the residents were the biggest plus of this program.
Cush, though definitely a work hard, play hard program. PGY2 seems to be the toughest year (that's everywhere). They have home call as PGY2's on, but this has pros/cons as there are no "post-call" days. No nightfloat. Rush is Level II and so they're not getting high-energy MVAs (no one in Chicago is except Loyola), but they still see a ton of bread and butter trauma - distal radius, hip fractures, etc. They probably have the best lifestyle and more fun than other programs I saw, but as I mentioned, they definitely work hard. The 80-hour rule didn't seem to be an issue.
Location / Housing
Chicago is amazing - nightlife, lake, sports, arts, food, etc. So many things to do, and as the previous reviewer noted, there is enough time to experience it all. While not NYC or SF, Chicago is still expensive. Most residents live within 5 miles of Rush, and there are a variety of neighborhoods for pretty much any interest. Public transportation is available and accessible, but most/all residents drive. All the rotators during my month had no problem finding places to stay/sublet (no housing provided though).
Operative experience is not as heavy/early as at other programs, but the PGY4-5s were certainly comparable to their peers around the country. Trauma at Rush is light, but they get plenty of OR trauma at Cook and Rockford. Lots of fellows, but most attendings run 2 rooms (fellow in 1 room, resident in another), and there are more than enough cases to go around. I was carefully looking at the fellow-resident interaction during my rotation because I thought this was a weakness going in, but was pleasantly surprised by how much the fellows augmented the resident experience.
Overall Rotation Experience / Conclusion
Overall, I think this is a top 5 program. The faculty and residents were some of the nicest, most well-rounded, down-to-earth people I met during rotations as well as on the interview trail. For me, it comes down to balance - some programs will allow you operate early and heavy, but you never have time to read, do research, or live your life. In my opinion, I of course want to be competent in the OR, but orthopedics isn't 100% surgery, and the best surgeons know when to "not operate" just as much as they know how to operate. Rush teaches you how to think along these lines as well as how to operate with technical skill and efficiency. It does really come down to what you are looking for. Would recommend rotating here. As for the rotation itself, it is pretty chill, you're on the same service the whole month, and only 1 student per service so lots of facetime with the attendings. Only 1 call per week, and you can present your case(s) at intake the next morning. I was not called on during Monday conferences, but I would be prepared anyway. Definitely not the toughest month in terms of hours. Opportunities to explore Chicago.


I rotated as a medical student at this program
Date of Rotation
Summer 2010
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