OrthoIllinois, a leading bone and joint provider in northern Illinois, has been a long-time partner with Rush University Medical Center, which was recently ranked No. 5 for Best Hospitals for Orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report.
One of the most unique aspects of this partnerships is that Rush’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery sends its fifth- and fourth-year residents to OrthoIllinois in Rockford for 10 weeks at a time as part of their training, said Dr. Marc Zussman, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in trauma at OrthoIllinois.
Zussman serves as Rockford Site Director for the Rush Orthopedic Residency Program and said OrthoIllinois and Rush initially linked up nearly 11 years ago. Rush wanted to give residents access to a larger variety of trauma cases, especially blunt trauma, which the Rockford region could provide.
Residents live in Rockford during their 10-week rotation. Five fifth-year residents and five fourth-year residents rotate through OrthoIllinois, with one of each here at a time year-round. They work Monday through Friday and two weekends during their time here.
They see patients alongside OrthoIllinois physicians in the clinics and emergency rooms, they assist with surgeries and they round with the doctors to check on patients in the hospitals.
“Their primary goal is to get more experience in taking care of orthopedic traumas, fractures and other similar injuries,” Zussman said. “When they’re not working, they participate in local activities, whether that’s dining or working out. They enjoy this experience and it really opens their eyes about Rockford.”
Several OrthoIllinois physicians – Zussman and Drs. Jeffrey Earhart, Scott Ferry, Brian Bear, Scott Trenhaile and Geoffrey Van Thiel – also serve as Rush University faculty members.
The partnership is mutually beneficial and a nice recruiting tool – Dr. Van Thiel and Dr. Brian Braaksma were both fifth-year Rush residents who completed the Rockford program and ended up joining the OrthoIllinois medical team.
“It gives a direct connection between us and Rush, which means we get to learn some of the most current developments in the field and it’s easy to pick up the phone to consult on cases,” Zussman said. “It’s also a feather in our cap that one of the top orthopedic residencies in the country trusts us to help educate their residents and we have such a good experience for them.”