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Trauma Surgeon and Public Health Consultant Receives AAOS Humanitarian Award

Posted in Giving Back | Apr 2016 | Comments (0)

Tags: Editor's Choicemedical pro bonoorthopaedic servicesdisaster recoveryorthopaedic surgeonaaosgiving back


Richard A. Gosselin, M.D., an orthopaedic trauma surgeon, received the AAOS 2016 Humanitarian Award for 36 years of work abroad as both a surgeon and public health consultant. His humanitarian work ranges from surgeries to global teaching and training, orthopaedic research and advocating for improved orthopaedic care around the world.

Gosselin has been to more than 40 countries in conflict areas such as Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Sierra Leone and Somalia, as well as disaster areas following the earthquakes in Haiti and Pakistan. He performs around 200 orthopaedic procedures per year.

His current efforts have him stationed in Lebanon and Jordan to treat Syrian war victims for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), he says.

Richard A._Gosselin_200x252Common procedures in this region include “relatively fresh cases of weapon injuries, or long term complications [from weapon injuries] like non-unions of fractures and chronic bone infections,” Gosselin says.

When asked how he approaches these cases with limited resources, Gosselin says, “You just need to be creative, think outside the box and adjust your expectations to the available resources.”

Upon completing his residency at Montréal Medical School in 1984, Gosselin spent a year in Senegal and six months in Paris, then proceeded to San Francisco, where he stayed to serve as an attending surgeon at San Francisco General Hospital-University of California San Francisco, from 1988 to 1991. He spent the next eight years in private practice in Merritt Island, Florida, retiring from clinical work in 1999 to focus on full-time humanitarian work.

To prepare for his focus on humanitarian work, Gosselin obtained a Master’s in Public Health from University of California Berkeley in 2001, and a Master’s in Science in Public Health in Developing Countries from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2002. He currently serves as co-director of the Institute for Global Orthopaedics & Traumatology (IGOT), spending six to eight months each year with non-governmental organizations.

Gosselin is a lecturer at University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, and has published a variety of research. In 2014, he served as editor-in-chief of Global Orthopedics, Caring for Musculoskeletal Conditions and Injuries in Austere Settings.

Education and research has been a guiding principle of his career.

“You should always be willing to learn and to remain humble,” he says. “You are never as good as you think you are.”

Gosselin shares a few takeaways for American surgeons, based on his humanitarian work.

“Low-tech options do not necessarily lead to bad clinical outcomes; there is no universal definition of ‘acceptable outcomes,’ ” he says. “Defensive medicine is a stupid way to practice. Sound knowledge and application of basic sciences always trumps technological gimmickry. We should never presume patients’ expectations or desires, but remain truthful and realistic in telling them what we can offer.”


Hannah Corcoran is Associate Editor at ORTHOWORLD. Share with her how you give back; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it her your story.

Photo Courtesy of AAOS

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