LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Each year in the United States, just 650 physicians complete orthopedic residency training. This demanding program involves nine extra years of schooling, rotations and specialization after college - and for medical students at LSU in New Orleans, that training will take them to one of our local hospitals. In this Healthcast, we follow one of these residents on the job.
It's been a long road back to Southwest Louisiana for Estherwood native, Dr. Blaine Walton. After four years of undergraduate work, four more years of class and clinical work and finally two years deep into his orthopedic specialization, Dr. Walton is back in the area completing a three-month rotation in sports medicine at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital with Dr. David Drez. "This rotation is kind of a right of passage for the LSU residents," says Dr. Walton, "we've been coming here for many, many years. Dr. Drez has taught us all and we come out here to work with him."
Since 1982, more than 100 residents have completed this rotation designed to provide clinical, operative and research skills. "The residents' prime focus is to work with me in the office and secondly to work with the athletes at McNeese State University," says Dr. Drez, "through Memorial Hospital, we've been able to allow the residents to be educated by having cadaver labs where they would do dissections that relate to knee and shoulder problems."
The most beneficial aspect of this rotation for Dr. Walton is the one-on-one work with a seasoned pro. "I feel confident after having learned much from Dr. Drez that I can go out and continue my education and treat patients to the best of my ability," he says.
This demanding schedule doesn't come without its sacrifices, though. Dr. Walton has a wife and two young daughters back in New Orleans patiently handling the demands of his residency. "Once you find what you want to do," he says, "no matter how long it takes to get there, the ends justify the means. It takes a long time, but it will be worth it in the end."
And the pay-off isn't just something those completing this program see. Dr. Drez says it's a part of his job that he cherishes. "I think I've probably gained more from the rotation than the residents have," says Dr. Drez, "because they've taught me a lot."
Dr. Walton expects to wrap up his orthopedic specialization in three years and he plans to practice in Louisiana.