A Conversation with Dr. Brad Lamm, DPM. This interview was condensed and edited by Samantha Williams
Dr. Brad Lamm
Foot and Ankle Deformity Correction Fellowship
Brad Lamm, DPM, Director of Foot and Ankle Deformity Correction Fellowship, is an expert foot and ankle surgeon specializing in complex limb deformities. He has extensive experience in joint distraction and minimally invasive Charcot reconstruction. His fellowship is located in sunny West Palm Beach, Florida, where one fellow is accepted per year to work under him in his thriving practice.
Dr. Lamm spoke with senior editor Samantha Williams about the importance of fellowship in becoming a well-trained foot and ankle surgeon.
Before starting medical school at Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, Dr. Lamm held jobs of many trades. From landscaping to car porter, he held enough positions to know he wanted to pursue medicine and surgery.
“I chose podiatry because the foot and ankle are very complex structures, and it’s not fully understood by many.” He grew up playing soccer, making him constantly cognizant of how his cleats affected his game, which sparked his fascination in lower extremity biomechanics.
After completing his residency at Western Pennsylvania Allegheny Health System, he was accepted into a Masters program at Carnegie Mellon for biomechanical engineering. However, Dr. Lamm decided to pursue a fellowship instead, because ultimately, he cherished the personal interaction with patients that medicine offers, and he felt engineering would take away from that. He trained at both the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore and the University of Graz Medical School in Graz, Austria for his fellowship.
“Residency is not the final chapter in learning surgery”, Dr. Lamm explains, “fellowship offers specific skills that cannot be taught to a residency”. Although his residency had comprehensive training, there were advanced skills, such as bone lengthening and external fixation that he was interested in pursuing more extensively.
He expresses that he learned just as much in one year of fellowship that he did in his three years of residency. “This is the very reason why”, he states, “fellowship is so important”. Because of the positive experiences in his own fellowship training, Dr. Lamm decided to start a program himself. Dr. Lamm is one of the pioneers in ACFAS approved fellowships, as his program was one of the first ten accredited with the committee in 2010.
“Residency is not the final chapter in Learning”
– Dr. Brad Lamm
At the Foot and Ankle Deformity Correction Fellowship, Dr. Lamm sees his fellows as an apprenticeship. “My fellows are my right-hand assistant on everything, whether it be tending to in-patients, in the clinic, or in the operating room”, he states. He feels the responsibility is similar to residency but more involved. Dr. Lamm expects his fellows to constantly be asking “why” during surgery and in the clinic. “I want to teach my fellows to be thinkers, not just doers. Residency teaches you the recipe for a particular procedure, how to treat gout, etc. I require my fellows to relearn how to think through problems and conditions. They have to learn why I’m performing one procedure versus another, applying a cast versus boot, and more. With these skills, they will graduate proficient in both medicine and surgery.”
At his program, the fellow can expect to be exposed to about 400 surgical cases in the year. However, “it’s not the number of surgeries, but rather the quality”, Dr. Lamm stressed. He uses every surgery to teach his fellow, step by step. He warns anyone researching fellowships to not gauge the program on the number of cases, but rather, on the quality of the learning experience each case has to offer. This is why Dr. Lamm advises those interested in fellowship to observe each program for a day or two. “Interacting with the hospital staff, director, and current fellows can give you a better indication if the program is a right fit for you.”
As a closing remark, Dr. Lamm advised those interested in fellowship to find a good mentor. “Most fellowship directors are well-known in their field, and each of us has a great deal to offer for training. In terms of the specific program, it is about what fits the applicant. If you’re interested in specializing in sports medicine, reconstruction, pediatrics, etc., fellowship allows you to explore these areas and follow what drives you. They aren’t for everyone, but if interested, it’s important to start researching now. This article, for example, will be a great resource to store away and revisit in the future when it’s time to apply.”
By Samantha Williams
New York College of Podiatric Medicine
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