Special Place in the Heart: Orthopaedic Residency at McLaren Flint

Published on Tuesday, November 22, 2016

While Dennis Callahan, MD, trained at a number of hospital systems, he always retained a warm spot in his heart for the unique approach of McLaren's orthopaedic residency program. 

"McLaren seemed to focus more on intellectual curiosity than on my training elsewhere did.  The focus was on learning what happened, and how we can do better.  At other systems, it was more a matter of "just get it done," with no one questioning why we were doing it this way. "Life often seems to have subtle dividing points, the magic moment when we have matured from a past state into a new one.  It may well be that instant in your life when you stop fretting so much about gaining and accumulating, and realize it's time to begin giving back.

Dr. Callahan recalls McLaren physicians such as Drs. Bernie Harris and Melvyn Wolfe as leaders in shaping this intellectual curiosity among McLaren residents.  "They pushed us to do research and think about the mechanics of care, why an injury happened and the engineering involved.  There was a variety to the learning."  Today, Dr. Callahan sees much more specialization in orthopaedics, with resident focus on one area rather becoming a true generalist.

"I'm coming to the end of my career, and looking back over the hill - I'd like to help the folks who've helped me," says Dr. Dennis Callahan.  An orthopaedic surgeon based in Minnesota, he's retired from practice now, but remembers how his time as a young resident at McLaren Flint opened his mind to new possibilities.  "The program gave us a basis of seeing people from other places, a chance to compare, to see what others do in different ways."

However, Dr. Callahan wants to do more than wax nostalgic about the past glories of orthopedic residency at McLaren.  He intends to do his part to give back some of the lessons he learned years ago.  He has set up a fund specifically for residents to purchase books on orthopedics, a valuable reference too often overlooked in today's digital world.  "In my day the go-to book was Campbell's Orthopedics, but whichever references they choose are up to them."  Since the current four-volume set of Campbell's Orthopedics starts at a price of over $500, helping young residents start their professional library should be a great benefit.

"I hope other people will consider donating to this," Dr. Callahan concludes.  "The people at McLaren did a lot for me, and gave me something unique, and I appreciate their hard work.  I hope this will help carry on into the future."