During my training I grew frustrated that I could not find a source of material that would easily convey the concepts that underlie the practice of orthopedics. Material tended to fall into three camps: dense, outline-format lists of facts, esoteric primary literature articles, and gigantic multivolume text books. These dense lists of facts left me overwhelmed. My first pass reading retention was quite low as they relied purely on the memorization of facts and provided no conceptual framework to store the onslaught of new facts and ideas. If I were to ask an attending what to read they would inevitably respond with some primary literature journal, a great idea if you already know what you’re doing and only need an answer to a specific question, but not for someone seeking answers to the basic questions and broadly applicable information. Of course, you could always find all the information you need to become a great orthopedic surgeon in one of the massive multi-volume textbooks, but keep in mind this inarguable fact; You’re only getting through that book ONCE, if ever, so you better have a 100% reading retention rate. Unfortunately I do not, just look at a typical “forgetting curve” for newly learned information. It’s horribly depressing.
So I read, and compiled, and did questions, and compiled, and went to journal club, and compiled. And eventually I found that I had a source of information that gave me not only the facts, but also the conceptual framework to help me remember these facts. As in most of medicine, the key to understanding the fundamentals of orthopedics involved gathering a broad array of sources and processing the information they contained into a single usable format. Using this same comprehensive approach enabled all of the course contributors to score consistently in the high 90th percentiles on orthopedic qualification exams, including the orthopedic in-training examination and written board examinations.
An instructor once said something to me so simple, yet I found quite profound, and I try to emphasize it in this lecture series; “To truly understand orthopedics, you must learn to be an excellent applied anatomist.” That’s it. Mind-blowing, I know. But it’s true in every sense. We are mechanics of the human body. Understanding the basic science, physiology, anatomy, and biomechanics of the human body makes understanding orthopedic conditions and treatments incredibly logical and simple. That was the conceptual framework I had been seeking.
We’ve designed these lectures on that concept. We attempt to stress the “normal” as much as possible and then correlate it with the “abnormal”. We repeat topics frequently following spaced repetition techniques to aid in retention. We chose audio lectures as a means to maximize your time, as most people have very little to carve out for additional reading. As one of my mentors has said, “be efficient when you’re not being efficient”. The lectures can be quickly reviewed on a phone, tablet, or desktop while you wait for OR turnover or X-rays to be taken, go to the gym, or during your daily commute.
I hope you enjoy the course. Thanks again for your support and feedback.
Kevin O’Donnell, MD and The Cornerstone Courses Team