The Importance of Fellowships

There’s a lot you can learn in a classroom or in a university lab. Those books and exams are an essential part of any surgeon’s training. But the transition from the world of academia to the operating room requires plenty of real-world, hands-on training. For this reason, fellowships are absolutely crucial for a surgeon who wants to gain experience and specialize in a particular area of medicine. I’m speaking from personal experience here, because I know that I am a better Pocatello area plastic surgeon because of the knowledge and practical experience I gained through my fellowships.

What is a Fellowship?

After a doctor graduates from medical school, the first step toward becoming a surgeon is the completion of an internship, typically one year in duration. Following this internship, the doctor will embark on multiple years of surgical residencies, during which he or she gains practical experience under the observation and guidance of a fully-trained doctor. It is only after the completion of the residency that a doctor is ready to undertake a fellowship.

During the fellowship, the doctor will work under experienced professionals in their chosen field. As a fellow, the new surgeon is able not only to watch, but to have hands-on involvement in plastic surgery procedures. It is a time to learn new techniques, methods, and skills while finding practical application for all the knowledge gained through medical school and residency.

It may be helpful here to give examples from my fellowship training, because it was so pivotal for me. I was able to pursue a fellowship with surgeons who became great mentors, surgeons who I admired and whose innovative spirit matched my own. From Dr. Grant Stevens in Los Angeles, for instance, I was able to learn some valuable techniques including those I continue to use for my Idaho Falls, Jackson Hole and Pocatello liposuction patients. When I combined that experience with my general plastic surgery and facial aesthetic surgery fellowships, I truly felt that I had the comprehensive experience to give my patients excellent results in a wide range of aesthetic enhancement procedures.

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