President's Perspective

Thanh Dinh

Lifelong Learners
Thanh Dinh, DPM, FACFAS
ACFAS President

As a program director, I am always humbled by the privilege and honor bestowed upon me as I usher these newly minted DPMs into the practice of medicine and surgery. Each year, I observe in awe as these students walk through the doors of our Harvard teaching hospital, ready to work side-by-side with their MD colleagues as they all collectively learn how to care for our patients. Their eagerness to do their best for their patients is balanced by their recognition of the opportunity and the responsibility they wield as they practice their skills. Fear of failing their patients and fear of disappointing their attendings is a constant worry.

But they are not alone because along this educational journey; ACFAS stands alongside these residency program directors and our trainees. ACFAS provided online learning during this unprecedented pandemic. ACFAS supported our trainees to present their research at the always inspiring Annual Scientific Conference. Under the direction of the Post Graduate Affairs Committee, ACFAS again rolled out a highly attended and remarkable Residents’ Day and Residency Director Forum. ACFAS continues to develop programs to ensure all residents have opportunities for hands-on skills training, such as the Arthroscopy Courses and now the Comprehensive Internal Fixation Course.

And after three years of training, the blossoming of confidence and skills always makes me proud to bear witness to the transformation. But what is etched into my memory is not the technical performance of a surgical procedure, but the many times we, together as a team, eased the pain and suffering of a patient. And along the way we laughed a lot. Like the time a resident was so nervous, he attempted to start the surgical incision with the non-sharp side of the scalpel. Or the resident who was so nervous during a case, a small bead of sweat violated the sterile field. Or that resident who likes to sing off key and out loud. And maybe the worse offense, the time a resident put on a country music playlist in the OR.

During these three years of training, we became more than educators and trainees. We witnessed weddings, held newborn babies, celebrated fellowship acceptances and new employment opportunities. At the conclusion of these short three years, we became confidantes, sharing inside jokes, knowing glances and becoming colleagues. The transition is snail-like and swift at the same time. It sneaks up on me each year and I while I mourn the loss of the daily, I am grateful for the opportunity. Congratulations Casey and John and all the 2021 residency graduates. And thank you ACFAS for supporting our residents!

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