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Friends in medicine ~ Dr Jude Nzeako: Orthopedic Surgeon.


Dr Obi Jude Nzeako (“Dr Jude Rose”) is a Nigerian and the oldest of 5 siblings. I had no choice but to grow up a problem solver he says.  He grew up in London, and went to the North of England (University of Manchester) for medical school. In his final year he went to Yale in the United States to complete some sub-internships, he says that was where he got inspired by Orthopaedics.
Dr Jude says; at medical school, I was a fairly regular slacker, I enjoyed football, parties and the general social side of university. I realized fairly late that medical school actually isn’t that hard, and that if I pushed myself I could probably do whatever I wanted. I therefore moved back to London with a new found zest and belief that I could do whatever I wanted. I chose surgery and the rest is history.

There are lots more Dr Jude has to say in this insightful interview as he shares his experience and inspiring tips for anyone interesting in orthopedics.

What attracted you to orthopedics? 

My first real taste of Orthopaedics was my elective at Yale. It was amazing to see the impact
that surgeons had on patients lives. People were genuinely grateful to be able to return to walking working, sports etc. I loved that Orthopaedics was about restoring function, and that we used cutting edge technology and fundamental scientific principles to solve problems. I also realised that a lot (not all) of surgeons are very cool people. Surgeons tend to be type A’s, but are inspiring people who are constantly striving to be better. I knew that I wanted to be part of that.

Brief summary of the steps you took to getting to the level you are at now and how long does it take to train as an orthopedic surgeon in the U.K.?
Training in the UK is quite complicated. There are several competitive steps, that could slow
or halt progression. Unlike the US where you have a single residency, I have had to complete 3 separate training programmes. Straight after medical school I completed a foundation programme, which is basically several 4 month rotations in various medical and surgical specialties. It is like a 2 year internship. I then complete a 2 year core surgical programme. This is basically surgical rotations, usually 4-6 months each. It is usually themed. i.e if you are interested in Ortho, you will usually do some general surgery, vascular surgery, and plastics. During this time you must complete a bunch of exams, that eventually gives u Membership to the Royal College of Surgeons, its basically a diploma of surgery. After this I completed a 6 year high specialty programme in orthopaedics. During this time I completed all the subspecialties, including trauma. I completed a masters degree, and the FRCS diploma, which means you become a fellow of the royal college of surgeons. Basically its long!!! 10 years later, and I am about to start my fellowship training in Toronto, Canada.

Are there any cultural difficulties in getting to the top as an orthopedic surgeon in the U.K and what has been the most challenging bit so far?
The stats speak for themselves. There has been selection bias at every stage against black and ethnic minority doctors. Hopefully this is changing. The selection process has moved from a subjective assessment to more objective national recruitment. I have already noticed a more diverse medical work force. Orthopedics in particular is somewhat of an old boys club, and breaking in can be slightly daunting. I try to ignore negativity, believe in myself and continue striving for excellence. People can’t deny you when they recognize your conviction.

 What is a typical work day like for you?
My days usually start between 7:30 and 8am. Usually we start with a morning meeting where we discuss the trauma cases. We then try and get to theatre (the OR) by about 8:30-09:00 am. We then will operate till about 5-6pm. I’ll usually do a review of my patients after and will usually leave the hospital between 6-6:30pm. That’s an average day, but it may vary depending on clinics, meetings, teaching commitments, on calls (which are usually 24hrs).

How do you create a work:life balance?
This is very important to me. Very early on I knew that I wanted to be a surgeon but I didn’t want to sacrifice my entire life. So try and go to the gym 2 or 3 times a week (struggling at the moment though). I still try and play some football with my friends. I also like to spend time with the family. So I will usually have at least one day in the week that is for them, and I will keep the work to a minimum. This is usually Sunday. I also try and take on less extra work in the summer, so that I can spend more time travelling, spending time with friends and family and doing other things that are important to me. I tend to work more in the winter, but I definitely try and balance it. Whatever you do as a surgeon you must have a strategy to balance work and life. Its easy to get overwhelmed and neglect friends and family for work, but that makes lonely surgeons.


 Please share 1 of your best and worst experience as a doctor so far.
Best experience
There are too many great experiences to pick one.I genuinely cannot think of a single best moment. Accomplishment is great as it usually feels like a breakthrough after serious juggling i.e passing exams whilst completing busy training programmes. When I passed my FRCS exams I had basically spent that year ignoring my family and friends, and it was great to re-emerge as a human again.

Worst Experience:
During my junior surgical rotation, I worked for an old grumpy surgeon. He was miserable and went out of his way to make my life miserable. For the only time in my career I actually felt bullied, and hated every single day I had to get up and go to work. Thankfully this was a temporary rotation, and he was subsequently reported and disciplined for similar behavior with other trainees.

Any advise or tips for aspiring trainees who will like to be on same path as you.
I have had a fortunate career path, and I honestly belief the key has been belief in self. You must believe whole heartedly that you are capable. Do not fear challenge. Embrace it and raise your game, get out of your comfort zone and do what it takes. Show the world you are who you say you are. People will naturally support you when they see you walking with conviction. I live each day by this philosophy and it has carried me this far.



Cheers.

About Mute Akpomedaye

Mute Akpomedaye
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