Christopher Hill – Paediatric Orthopaedic Fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.

The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, is one of the leading hospitals in the world for the specialty I love, paediatric orthopaedics. Its prestigious Fellowship offers an unparalleled opportunity at a world-class facility under the tutelage of various leading experts in their fields. I was privileged enough to be selected to undergo my Fellowship there from August 2017 to August 2018. The advantage this timing was that not only did it fit in well with my UK training, but it also meant we arrived to blue skies and glorious sunshine as apposed to the -35°C temperatures and snow that we would later brave in the year, and that certainly made settling in a bit easier!

The Hospital For Sick Children - Atrium
The Hospital For Sick Children - Atrium
The Hospital For Sick Children - Atrium

The Fellowship itself is a generalised fellowship with broad clinical exposure through Neuromuscular, Tumour, Dysplaia, Spine, Sports, Child Hip, Foot and Ankle (including clubfoot) and Deformity rotations, as well as Trauma. Given its vast catchment area, it offers the privilege of treating patients with a variety of conditions including rarer pathologies not readily seen in UK training such as skeletal dysplasias, congenital conditions and bone tumours. I was therefore able to hone my surgical skills on familiar procedures, but also learn new operations, and experience more novel procedures, especially in the reconstructive side after tumour resection, such as vascularized fibular grafting and rotationplasty. I was also able to spend time at the Holland Bloorview rehabilitation centre, an incredible specialist centre for patients with neuromuscular conditions. During my time there I learnt a great deal regarding patient management and gait analysis; skills I will directly translate into my future practice.

Treatment Room decoration inside Holland Bloorview Rehab Hospital
Treatment Room decoration inside Holland Bloorview Rehab Hospital

This Fellowship has provided me with invaluable experience and skills that I can bring into my future practice, and to stand me in good stead as a consultant.  From a non-clinical point of view, I have been exposed to a new healthcare system with new ideas and concepts around patient and hospital management.  My hope is that I can subsequently take the best bits from these ideas and incorporate them into the UK system locally to improve the patient service and experience.

Overall my year in Toronto was hugely beneficial.  It has made me a more competent, confident surgeon having gained experience and techniques that will be immensely useful in my new role as a Consultant at the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire.  On a personal note, my family were able to experience life in another country and all it has to offer, including the many sites and attractions of the city (CN Tower, aquarium, ice-hockey/baseball games) and even managed to take advantage of the winter conditions for tobogganing, skiing and skating.

I highly recommend the Fellowship at Sickkids for any aspiring paediatric orthopaedic surgeon, and will always be indebted to the HCA International Foundation for the financial support they provided to allow this experience.

Travelling Surgical Society of Great Britain and Ireland