Review Detail

by Christopher Thompson     November 06, 2017    

White Collar Program with Top Reseach

Program Review

Staff / Faculty / Chairman
Houston Methodist is a true white collar program with one of the strongest faculties in the south. Besides being the only other academic orthopedic affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College besides HSS, they are the official providers for the Texans, Astros (just won first World Series!!!), Dynamo, Dash, Rice University, Houston Rodeo, and the Houston Ballet.

There’s not much written on Houston Methodist and doximity lists it lower on their ranks as a new program, which is a little disingenuous. Most of the Houston Methodist faculty are the former Baylor faculty. For those that don’t know, Houston Methodist was the hospital that trained the Baylor residents until 2005.

In 2005, Baylor and Houston Methodist had a falling out (if you didn’t already guess, it had to do with money). After the split Baylor partnered up with Memorial Hermann and Houston Methodist partnered up with Weill Cornell Medical College (which at the time was ranked one position above Baylor). Memorial Hermann is a great hospital system but there is a clear difference between it and Houston Methodist. Houston Methodist has since been unequivocally ranked the number one hospital in Texas, is usually a top 20 ranked hospital in the US, and is currently ranked number 21 in orthopedics according to US News (there are a lot of flaws with rankings but it’s still important to note because in this day and age patients place a lot of weight on them).

Varner (chair of ortho, foot and ankle) usually sees a lot of the Texans patients and seems to have a very good reputation among residents, although I didn’t get the chance to work with him.

Weiner (chief of spine, and residency director) is massive in the world of spinal microsurgery and nanotechnology-based surgical research. Very approachable and appears to really care about resident development.

Marco (chief of ortho oncology) was the first surgeon in the world to complete orthopedic fellowships in oncology and spine. He’s fellowship trained in oncology from Memorial Sloan Kettering and spine from Rush. Residents complete a 4-month oncology rotation with him during their second year at MD Anderson (the #1 ranked cancer hospital in the US).

For sports and sports research you have McCulloch and Harris, both big names in sports who came in from Rush.
Didactics / Teaching
There are specialty specific conferences every week in the morning on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for hand, sports and joints respectively. Didactics are usually on Thursday evenings (fracture conference, OITE, or special lectures).
Operating Experience
Houston Methodist is the definition of a privademic program with the operative experience structured as a mentorship model. Because of the mentorship model, your operative experience is very good, even as an intern. It’s rare that you’re double scrubbed on cases.
Clinic Experience
Facilities are excellent (the hospital has a lot of money). Overall, well balanced clinic experience, the amount of time you spend in clinic is dependent on the service you’re on.
Research Opportunities
Feels like it's unlimited and seriously one of the biggest strengths of this program. Besides attendings like Varner, Weiner, Marco, and Harris, they have two state of the art orthopedic research labs (a newly formed Orthopedic Biomechanics Reseach Lab and an existing Surgical Advanced Technology Lab), both with dedicated research staff.

Good mix of married and single. One of the most female friendly programs around. Variety of personalities in general and everyone seems to get along.
One of the best lifestyles of programs I rotated at. PGY-1 is 50% ortho, 50% other. PGY-2 is probably the busiest, as at most places then drops off after. Residents seem pretty happy and not too stressed overall.
Location / Housing
Houston is the fourth biggest city in America but is spread out (think LA not NYC). The area around the hospital is very nice as the hospital is right next to Rice University. Pretty affordable city with a great and exploding food scene.
Lack of trauma and much more white collar type of program than blue collar.
Overall Rotation Experience / Conclusion
This is the definition of a privademic program with excellent research opportunities and big name staff. Mentorship model means that you get a lot of operative experience early on and it is a top notch program for anyone interested in academia or a top fellowship.

While it’s listed as a relatively new program on doximity because of the split with Baylor and move to Weill Cornell, but I invite anyone to simply look at the program, research opportunities, current faculty, and fellowship placements before deciding where to apply. In their first two years of alumni (2016 and 2017) they’ve sent residents to fellowships in spine at mayo, hand at uconn, hand at stanford, and sports at stanford. The faculty really seem to go to bat for the residents and coupled with all the research opportunities, everyone seems to go wherever they want for fellowship.


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