By Dr. James Ficke
I have been an orthopaedic surgeon for more than two decades, but I’m also a retired U.S. Army colonel. It was my 30-year career in military medicine that instilled a passion for studying outcomes related to limb loss, limb salvage and lower-extremity trauma—conditions I saw in Mosul that I now treat and research at Johns Hopkins.
As director of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, I have the privilege of leading more than 50 orthopaedic surgeons, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, as well as hundreds of committed professionals who support these providers. We care for patients from around the world and throughout the nation who come to us for leading-edge orthopaedic care.
Together, we have built a top 10 nationally respected department, with many subspecialists in virtually every aspect of orthopaedic surgery and in every location we call Johns Hopkins. We believe having a multidisciplinary approach is important—my philosophy of patient care is that it takes an entire community to get the best outcomes.
We also believe in taking a holistic approach that includes addressing cultural habits that affect health. As one example, we have seen that the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles has led to increases in body mass index, obesity and inactivity-related diseases. For decades this health crisis has been spreading across the globe. As physicians and scientists, we want to know exactly how.
When patients come to my office, I listen to their story and try to understand the conditions that led to their problem. I’m looking at the bigger picture, not just the direct injury that likely led the patient to seek treatment. I talk with the patient about goals and next steps, be it surgery or rehabilitation. We believe rehabilitation can be highly effective in preventing and treating disease. But when rehabilitation is not effective, we introduce surgery and reconstruction. I walk the patient through the care plan and talk about what everyone on the care team will do.
In my years of practice, I have learned that the most important part for patients is to feel good about their outcomes. It may be a long journey, but patients can trust that our team will accompany them every step of the way.
James Ficke, M.D., is the Robert A. Robinson Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He graduated from West Point in 1983 and earned his M.D. from Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in 1987. He completed a transitional internship at Madigan Army Medical Center and finished his residency in orthopaedic surgery at Tripler Army Medical Center. Dr. Ficke is nationally renowned as an expert on the treatment of complex foot and ankle patients, lower-extremity trauma patients and amputees. He supports Johns Hopkins Medicine’s global health care mission by speaking on the health system’s behalf at leading industry events around the world, including the recent Arab Health Congress, the largest health care conference in the Middle East.