MEET THE AOSPINE MEMBERS
Fellow to Faculty:
Harry Gebhard, MD
In 2008, he had attended his first AOSpine event, followed by an AOSpine fellowship that he has graduated from with honors (Awardee Best Presentation of Class 2010). In December 2017, he has accompanied the Davos Courses for the second time as faculty, working alongside Paul Heini establishing the minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) course on vertebroplasty. Today, he is the AOSpine Fellows Alumni Steering Committee Chairperson. In this interview, Harry Gebhard shares his experiences and explains how he sees the future of AOSpine fellowships.
Where did you do your AOSpine fellowship and what was your experience?
I feel very fortunate to have spent my fellowship in 2009-10 with Dr. Härtl at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. It has enticed me to learn about a "My AOSpine fellowship has enticed me to learn about a spine center philosophy with a focus on truly interdisciplinary work, and literally has fostered my understanding of spine care at a very early stage - encouraging me to view spinal disorders from various perspectives."spine center philosophy with a focus on truly interdisciplinary work, and literally has fostered my understanding of spine care at a very early stage - encouraging me to view spinal disorders from various perspectives. A highly professional team consisting of physiotherapists, anesthesiologists, psychologists, nurses and surgeons took care of patients suffering from the most difficult conditions. Moreover, not only clinical care, but also teaching and research have played decisive roles at Weill Cornell. We were able to establish a new surgical model for disc replacement and even to start a very hopeful mission in Africa that`s still ongoing. It was hard work, but a very productive time overseas and I was able to grow professionally as well as personally by living within a different culture.
How has your fellowship influenced your career as a spine surgeon?
The exposure to the field of spine care is enormous during an AOSpine Fellowship. We had 75 mentor-mentee teams at that time, and, having exchanged thoughts with my peers, I can truly state that everyone had passionate mentors within great facilities. On top of that, AOSpine supports you with a stipend that is a great incentive to consider a fellowship, which otherwise is never easy within an ongoing residency program or thereafter. The fellowship has encouraged me to pursue that field of medicine and has initiated a network with peers that allows support within your lifelong training. Residents and Fellows were able to take on responsibilities early on. This kind of leadership I have adopted for my later practice and my work with residents. It helps to identify talented future leaders and establish continuous teaching through all steps of a career.
Currently you are the chairperson of the Fellows Alumni Steering Committee. How did you get involved with that group?
It's one of those stories that happen so often within AO meetings. A discussion had been initiated as to what extent past AOSpine fellows could further profit "At first, it happened to be discussion rounds and now it is about to become a body that supports an Education Task Force which is led by Champion Mike Grevitt. I am very grateful that we were asked to contribute from a past fellows' perspective to many future projects of AOSpine Education."from the organisation after their graduation, and also the other way around: how the foundation could define future leaders that have passed the AOSpine curriculum. Comparable to other "schools", the idea of an AOSpine Alumni Association was born. Emre Acaroglu and Kate Quagliozzi have suggested a Steering Committee that helps to collect ideas from past fellows for that alumni endeavor. Initially, Cordula Netzer, Tarek Elhewala and myself have volunteered when asked to help getting this of the ground. At first, it happened to be discussion rounds and now it is about to become a body that supports an Education Task Force which is led by Champion Mike Grevitt. I am very grateful that we were asked to contribute from a past fellows' perspective to many future projects of AOSpine Education.
How do you see the future for the fellows alumni?
We have debated introducing three pillars of action: education, research and community. As the only global association in spine care, we are about to extend the Steering Committee by one member from each region worldwide. The aim "The exposure to the field of spine care is enormous during an AOSpine Fellowship. On top of that, AOSpine supports you with a stipend that is a great incentive to consider a fellowship, which otherwise is never easy within an ongoing residency program or thereafter."is to advise the referring Education Task Force in regards to needs of but also requirements from fellows and faculty. Various communication pathways are currently under review in order to connect everyone as good as possible. From there, we will define distinct projects appearing from that group. Personally, and from the standpoint of a global organization, I think we need to bring up a generation of surgeons who is able to perform extremely well under basic conditions, in terms of equipment and techniques. There should, however, also be room for the latest modalities such as augmented reality and robotics. We need to function in a world of restricted resources and teach the awareness for responsible actions also in regards to the health care systems as such. Overall: Patients first!
You first attended an AOSpine event in 2008 and have since then been involved considerably with the organization. What does it mean to you to be a member of AOSpine?
I had been introduced to the AO Foundation trauma courses as a resident. Later on, when I got more and more interested in spine care, I did extend the good experiences with AOTrauma towards AOSpine. AOSpine offers a variety of opportunities to learn about and read up on spine care with a global perspective. Not only that, it stimulates research and further developments within its unique global network. Last not least, it's a worldwide community of individuals with a distinct interest in spine that allows you a view without boundaries. Journals, online-learning tools and web-casts allow for time-independent learning and interactive teaching. As a fellow, AOSpine membership opens a large window into a world of opportunities among peers. The newsletter has recently been awarded by independent raters and offers insights into many topics that touch upon our lives as spine professionals but also as human individuals.
What advice can you give a young surgeon just starting in his/her career in the spinal field?
It's all driven by your passion and your own motivation. Still, it needs a vehicle to get you the best training and inspiration for your career. AOSpine might offer you insights into spine care, mentorship and opportunity to drive your motivation to success. Get involved, early on, and be open to the new.
You've been faculty now at several AOSpine courses recently. How was your experience, and do you have any recommendations for someone who would like to get more involved/become faculty?
It was a great honor to become faculty. I am very grateful that I can look back at various events now where I was fortunate to switch roles and teach others. "AOSpine offers a variety of opportunities to learn about and read up on spine care with a global perspective. Not only that, it stimulates research and further developments within its unique global network. As a fellow, AOSpine membership opens a large window into a world of opportunities among peers."Chairmen had noticed my passion for teaching and seen the results of my work for education and new teaching modalities. The most rewarding factor though is the honest feedback of the course participants afterwards. That's what we all learn from and that's what serves the next course as a true benefit. Anyone who is interested in teaching and sees his motivation in delivering her/his knowledge to others is mostly welcome to step up and say so. A variety of faculty training courses will be offered in the regions and we certainly will work hard on implementing strategies for young individuals to get involved all over the world transparently.
From fellow to faculty: Looking at your career within AOSpine, you have been engaged with the organization for a few years now and have participated in various activities. What are your future plans?
I'm not so much looking into distinct positions. I would like, however, to be able to implement my passion, motivation and vision for spine care within this organization. This is what has driven me so far, and this is, in my opinion, what counts the most for deliverable results in that unique global community. Beside our professional work, we also need to focus more on soft skills and a human and complaisant work environment. Shall "make your dearest hobby become your profession" and "we love to go to work daily" be our themes. Great training allows us to respect those important tasks. A harmonic and rewarding work environment is key to productivity and health.
In your view, what could be improved in the fellowship program?
There are so many good things about it already. However, we are currently working on the selection process and a best fitting match. Furthermore, content and skills will be reviewed and adapted globally.
If you are an AOSpine Fellow Alumni,
Newsletter 15 | March 2018
Newsletter 15 March 2018
MEET THE AOSPINE MEMBERS