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Yale Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation Matches With First Total Joint Fellow

June 08, 2020
by Matt O'Rourke

The Yale Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation has successfully matched with Erik McDonald, MD, as its first-ever Fellow in Adult Reconstruction (Total Joint Replacement Surgery).

McDonald is currently completing his residency at the University of California San Francisco Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and will join Yale for the one-year program beginning in August 2021. His first exposure to Yale Orthopaedics faculty was fortuitous: he worked alongside Assistant Professor Michael P. Leslie, DO, who was completing his own fellowship at the University of California Davis while McDonald was in the UCSF’s biomechanics lab.

That exposure was amplified in residency when he worked with Professor Lisa L. Lattanza, MD, who was a professor at UCSF prior to her becoming the Yale department chair in 2019. “I have known Dr. McDonald since he was an undergraduate engineering student in the biomechanics lab at UCSF. I then had the pleasure of participating in his training as an orthopaedic surgery resident at UCSF. We are lucky to have matched him here at Yale for our outstanding arthroplasty fellowship lead by Dr. Lee Rubin.”

"I'd always kept an eye on it since then and was excited to learn a fellowship in adult reconstruction was being developed. I'm excited to be the first fellow and hopefully can live up to the Yale standard and start a legacy of a well-respected fellowship,” Dr. McDonald said. “I wanted to pursue a path in adult reconstruction because I loved how predictable and good the outcomes are for patients. We truly make people better.”

I'd always kept an eye on it since then and was excited to learn a fellowship in adult reconstruction was being developed. I'm excited to be the first fellow and hopefully can live up to the Yale standard and start a legacy of a well-respected fellowship. I wanted to pursue a path in adult reconstruction because I loved how predictable and good the outcomes are for patients. We truly make people better.

Erik McDonald, MD

McDonald, an engineer by training, said the spark for adult reconstruction started when as an undergrad he watched a surgeon discuss total femur replacements for the first time.

McDonald said he’s be in interested in adult reconstruction procedures since his time as an undergraduate. He watched as a surgeon described total femur replacements during a lecture and realized that orthopaedics was the best career-path for his life’s work. Yale provides an additional exposure to surgical innovation and cutting-edge techniques, he said, which combines well with his residency training and mechanical engineering knowledge.

“I would love to continue using my engineering background for the development and refinement of procedures or devices. I think an engineering background helps make adult reconstruction a lot more interesting as there are a ton of engineering principles to apply,” he said.

Associate Professor Lee E. Rubin, MD, the Adult Reconstruction Section Chief and Fellowship Program Director, said that connection to biomechanics work makes McDonald a strong match for the department. “We are truly excited to have matched Dr. McDonald as our ‘Inaugural Fellow’ for the Yale Arthroplasty Fellowship Program,” Rubin said. “He stood out from a highly talented applicant pool with his many academic accomplishments and his unique education and experience working in the fields of Mechanical Engineering and Orthopaedic Biomechanics. He is poised to be an excellent mentor to our Yale Medical Students and our Yale Orthopaedic Residents, and will help us to firmly establish the foundation of the Yale Arthroplasty Fellowship during his year of training here at Yale.”

Submitted by Matt O'Rourke on June 08, 2020