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Corinna Franklin, M.D., and Joshua Pahys, M.D., Reveal the Benefits of Training the Next Generation of Surgeons

Resident Exit Presentation in progress

Physicians at the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital listen to a presentation by a resident finishing up their residency.

There's something special about teaching the next generation of surgeons, and being a teaching hospital has many benefits to the care Shriners Children's Philadelphia provides to every patient. Corinna Franklin, M.D., and Joshua Pahys, M.D., know this on a personal level, as they are the directors of the residency and fellowship programs for the hospital. “We do it to ensure that they know how to do right by kids,” explained Dr. Franklin. “That they treat families well, and treat children well, is really important.”

Many patients and families have come into contact with the residents and fellows in the clinic and operating rooms, but may not realize that the hospital hosts all of these residents and fellows as part of the second pillar of the hospital’s mission. The first pillar is providing the highest quality care to children, and the second pillar of the mission is to “provide for the education of physicians and other healthcare professionals.” The third pillar is research to discover new knowledge that improves children's quality of care and quality of life.

Residents are those still in medical school, and fellows are physicians who are looking to receive extra-specialized training and experience in a particular field after residency before going into practice. The resident program hosts around 16 second-, third-, and fourth-year medical students each year, and the fellowship program hosts around 50 fellows each year.

I love getting to know residents. It’s really an incredible responsibility to train residents, and it’s a privilege to shape the next generation of orthopedic surgeons. For many of them, this is their first exposure to pediatric orthopedics.”
Dr. Corinna Franklin, pediatric orthopedic surgeon, and director of the sports medicine program at Shriners Children's Philadelphia

The program offers experience in all three major service lines the hospital provides: upper extremity, lower extremity and spine. Residents and fellows come from Temple University, Einstein Medical Center, Thomas Jefferson University, Cooper University, University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Hand Center. Depending on the university or center, each rotation lasts 1-6 months.

The two directors also explained what they love about residents in terms of their own personal growth. “I also think that you don’t truly know something unless you’re able to teach it, so residents can really keep us on our toes,” said Dr. Franklin. “A good resident will ask questions that really push your skills and knowledge that nothing else will. It helps me to be a better surgeon.”

Residents don’t let you sit on your traditional mindset. They’re always pushing you with questions from things that they read, or questions in the operating room or the clinic. Being in a teaching hospital allows me to be a better surgeon and a better clinician. You always have people to push you forward, so you’re always part of that process.”
Dr. Joshua Pahys, pediatric orthopedic spine surgeon at Shriners Children's Philadelphia

Each resident is assigned to one service line in two-week increments, so they can get an overview of all aspects of what the hospital does. Residents work one-on-one with attending surgeons in the outpatient clinics, inpatient units and operating rooms. For the more academic aspects of the program, the residents also prepare weekly pre-op/post-op conferences, attend daily morning lectures by the attending surgeons, and prepare an in-depth exit presentation at the conclusion of their rotation.

At the end of each resident’s rotation, they are able to give feedback about their experiences, and are able to receive helpful feedback from the hospital’s team. Dr. Franklin says that this feedback – in both directions – is generally very positive, but that they’re able to track feedback responses over time to make sure they’re always heading in the right direction.

Dr. Pahys summed up their goal nicely: “I’m where I am because someone taught me how to do stuff.” he said. “That’s why we’re here: to assist and train them. We’ll pay it forward and let the next generation do it.”