Three Remarkable Encounters During my Fellowship That I Remember 33 Years Later
By David T. Netscher, MD
During my hand training in Louisville under the direction of Drs. Kleinert and Kutz, I had the rare privilege of personally spending a day each with three wonderful people.
Marko Godina was a frequent visitor to Louisville and I was enthralled by his enthusiasm and zest for plastic surgery and the newly developing field of microsurgery. I spent a whole day with him in the fresh tissue lab that was the brainchild of Dr. Bob Acland. I learned so much in that day dissecting flaps with the master. I remember him getting down on the floor of the lab positioning his own body to demonstrate how the patient should be positioned in the operating room to access the leg for reconstruction and also to simultaneously harvest the latissimus dorsi flap.
Frank Netter visited Louisville in preparation for his illustrated Ciba monograph on replantation. It was my responsibility to guide him for the day, answer his questions and work with him under the microscope. I was astonished at how much personal research he placed in his topics and his incredible eye for detail for the intricacies of anatomy. While he was learning from me, he was clearly a consummate educator.
I was the administrative fellow when soon-to-be ASSH President Shaw Wilgis came to Louisville as a visiting professor. Again, I had the personal pleasure of a day in the anatomy lab and in the operating room with a great teacher. He showed me a very simple way of using half of the FCR tendon for metacarpal suspension after trapeziectomy. While I have finessed this operation somewhat, it is still fundamentally the same as he showed me all those years ago.
What was the common denominator? First, each of these educators was very personable and unassuming. I felt like I was being personally taught. There was a passion and a zeal for their specialty. This led to an enquiring mind and technical excellence. I have spent most of my professional life in resident and fellow education. I have been privileged to be invited back to the Kleinert Institute as well as to the Curtis Hand Center as a visiting professor.
I still remember very clearly those three great educators that I was fortunate to have met in my fledgling professional years. At that time, they probably unknowingly left an indelible impression on me. My hope is that I can with all humility emulate those role models and enthusiastically continue to teach and educate.