Review Detail

by John Langland     August 20, 2007    

Hopkins Residency

Program Review

Staff / Faculty / Chairman
Dr. James Ficke has been our chairman now for the past 2 years, and has a clear direction for the department and the program. Personally, he is very approachable and goes out of his way to be available to the residents. Dr. Laporte has been the program director for several years and is equally approachable. After Dr. Frassica stepped down in 2011, there was the typical period of faculty turnover. We have filled those vacant positions and established a solid base on which to continue building the residency for the future. The pediatric, trauma, spine, and sports divisions retained all if not nearly all of the already excellent faculty. The Bayview division saw a great deal of turnover, but added Drs. Khanuja and Robert Sterling with plans to add a third arthroplasty attending in the next year. Our previous rotations at Good Samaritan Hopsital have been transitioned to Suburban Hospital in D.C., and has nearly the same faculty experience. Drs. Carol Morris and Adam Levine from Sloane Kettering have been monumental in revitalizing the oncology division, and are some of the most talented surgeons I have had the opportunity to work with. The only rotation where we travel is to Union Memorial for foot and ankle, which has one of the best F&A fellowship programs in the country.
Didactics / Teaching
Each service has their own individual didactics schedule and teaching conferences on a weekly basis, consisting of pre/postoperative conference and small group didactics. The program has weekly Grand rounds followed by protected resident education time every Thursday from 7am until noon. These are faculty led and range across all subspecialties. There are monthly skills labs at our Bayview campus, and feature cadaver dissection and hands-on teaching for spine, arthroplasty, trauma, and arthroscopy. The education calendar is typically geared for OITE preparation from July through November, and then broader educational topics for the remainder of the year.
Operating Experience
Having only rotated at Hopkins, I of course will have a biased perspective on operative experience and how that may compare to other institutions. That said, I would feel comfortable having my current chief class operate on a family member. You shouldn't expect to be operating as an intern, period. As a PGY-2 you will get your feet wet in most of the major subspecialties and will be first assist in most cases, or scrubbed behind a chief/fellow. As a PGY-3 and PGY-4 you will be expected to run some of the services such as hand, spine, arthroplasty, peds, and basic trauma and for those services you will operate - a lot. While I will be doing a trauma fellowship, I feel more than capable of doing general orthopaedics including ACL/PCL, ACDF, PSF, trauma, pediatric fractures, basic foot and ankle, TKA, THA, etc. Really, operative experience is dependent on how comfortable your chief feels in their own abilities. If a chief feels they need to do more of x or y procedure, you won't do much of those procedures as a junior. Here, I have never felt like that is the case, as I had plenty opportunity as a pgy-2 or 3 to operate. If I scrub for a hip fracture/Hemiarthroplasty/ankle fracture/distal radius/etc as a chief, it has been to walk a junior resident through the case, not to do it myself. Additionally, we have few fellows (3 spine, 2 shoulder, 1 peds) so the vast majority of cases are covered entirely by residents.
Clinic Experience
Clinic is well managed. Most services have 1-2 days of clinic per week with the volume of patients varying by attending. We use Epic for our patient charting which has been fairly straightforward. Attendings go out of their way to teach physical exam pearls and review radiographs/CT/MRI. We take care of the homeless/uninsured from inner city Baltimore and international patients from all over the world in the same clinic. You will see everyday orthopaedic conditions and rare genetic syndromes that may have also been discovered here.
Research Opportunities
Vast, with opportunities within any subspecialty that interests you. The resources here are incredible, and several services have their own research coordinator. Funding through NIH or national organization grants (OREF, OTA, AAOS) is readily available and residents are encouraged to apply for grants.

The T32 program also just started last year, and provides funding for one resident each year to devote a full year to orthopaedic research with no clinical responsibilities. This is completely optional, and the resident is selected by application.
Arguably the most important factor, as these are the people you will be spending the most time with over the next 5-6 years. The camaraderie here is strong, and everyone does their share. My classmates are my best friends, and we learn from and rely on one another. We find time outside of work to spend together as well, and there are numerous social opportunities. I have felt that previous graduating chiefs have been excellent surgeons and I felt lucky to have learned from them.
I see a good number of reviews that say Hopkins is busy. This is true, and you should desire this. Busy means opportunities for learning, operative experience, and training to be a better surgeon. Call is heaviest as a PGY-2 and gradually decreases each year.
Location / Housing
Baltimore is a great city to live. It's extremely affordable for an East Coast city, with cost of living well below that of DC, Philly, or NYC. Most residents live around the main campus, with a few that have families living in the suburbs. It is easy to take a weekend trip up to New York or DC if you so choose. The city itself has a reputation of having higher than average crime rate, but I've never felt threatened. Much like any large urban area, there are neighborhoods where you should probably not be walking at night.
Perhaps the only downside is that the majority of our sports experience comes late, as a PGY-5. That being said, previous chiefs that have gone on to specialize in sports medicine have not had difficulty finding fellowship matches.
Overall Rotation Experience / Conclusion
I feel fortunate to have trained here. Give strong consideration to applying/rotating here as a student, you will not be disappointed.


I am a current resident of this program.
Date of Rotation
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