ISSUE 144: Special Section

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The Right Fit

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LEXINGTON Brent Morris, MD, has landed his dream job. To join the Lexington Clinic Orthopedics – Sports Medicine Center means three things to him: For one, this Powell County native and UK medical school graduate is coming home; secondly, he gets to practice in close proximity to renowned shoulder specialist W. Ben Kibler, MD; and finally, Morris’ abundant energy for moving his field forward collaboratively will find fertile ground in the proactive professional culture of Lexington Clinic. “I fell in love with the people and the culture they have created here at Lexington Clinic,” he proclaims.

Such enthusiasm parallels his sentiments about his field, particularly his work on shoulder replacement and revisions. Morris was drawn to the work because “It’s a very complex and rapidly evolving aspect of orthopedics with lots of research opportunities.” After residency at Vanderbilt, he landed a prestigious fellowship in shoulder and elbow surgery at Texas Orthopedic Hospital in Houston. He calls this “a unique opportunity to work at one of the top orthopedic-only hospitals in the country.”

Value Added at Lexington Clinic

Besides his youthful enthusiasm, Morris brings considerable strengths to the Lexington Clinic Orthopedics – Sports Medicine Center. He is already well-versed in the complexity of upper body joint repair; the mentorship and training he received in Houston was first rate. He was the sole shoulder and elbow fellow working under a staff that includes three senior shoulder specialists and two senior elbow specialists. He notes that Texas Orthopedic was “a great environment for learning about particularly complex orthopedic cases, as so many are referred there from all over the country.”

His work on awareness of opioid abuse among orthopedic patients will also be of value, as many Kentucky communities continue to struggle with this issue. As lead author of the paper, Narcotic Use and Postoperative Doctor Shopping in the Orthopaedic Trauma Population, Morris presented data showing that one-in-five of such patients were abusing the system in search of additional opioids after surgery. Morris notes, “Pain management is a large and important aspect of the work of the orthopedist. We feel that the orthopedic trauma population is particularly vulnerable.” The study also concludes that greater use of objective data correlating patient profiles with abuse tendencies and diligent use of the electronic registries kept in many states will help orthopedists reduce opioid abuse.

Morris already has ample experience with anatomic and reverse total shoulder replacements, and many other arthroscopic and open procedures, so he anticipates being an integral member of the shoulder and elbow staff at Lexington Clinic. He knows he will have to be patient, starting with broad-based duties and a diverse patient population. In his words, these will span “from the young throwing athlete to the elderly patient with a fracture or shoulder arthritis.” Eventually, he expects “to build toward a practice consisting primarily of complex arthroscopic and open shoulder surgeries.”

That eventuality will be greatly enhanced by his proximity to Dr. Kibler. Morris says, “It’s an honor to learn from one of the greatest thinkers in orthopedics. The way Dr. Kibler approaches specific orthopedic problems is affecting how orthopedists across the world think about them.” Dr. Kibler is a Vanderbilt alumnus, and Morris first met him during Morris’ residency there. Morris says, “The mentorship and teaching that Dr. Kibler offered was extremely valuable.” Their mutual interest in shoulder work has left a deep impression on Morris: “It’s rare in life to find someone who shares such a passion for a specific thing. He will certainly be a great influence on me as I start practice.”

Moving His practice and Lexington Clinic Forward

Morris is excited about the future of orthopedics at Lexington Clinic. Its promotion of sub-specialty care and the support for clinical research suit him well. He anticipates multiple opportunities to bring innovations to the practice, particularly in elbow arthroscopy and improved techniques for Tommy John surgery.

He also sees an activist role for himself. He anticipates helping colleagues take advantage of the lessons of his research on opioid abuse. Outreach to young athletes who might suffer the elbow injury repaired by Tommy John surgery will be a part of his practice. This will take the form of promoting reduced pitch counts among the youth baseball population. Morris says, “I think that part of our job is to educate parents, coaches, and players about preventing such injuries. Any young people we can keep healthy and out of our offices, is a success.”

Lexington Clinic, with its culture of professional growth, will be an easy place to do this. Morris values the “culture of improving patient care by looking at results and trying to be better with every patient encounter” that he has already observed there. He also values the system-wide EMR for its ability to produce prospective registries. These produce validated outcome measures, which physicians share with patients to show how their department is doing. Morris sees a bright future at Lexington Clinic, concluding, “I believe Lexington Clinic will continue to lead the way in outcomes-based orthopedic care.”

Enthusiastic and energetic, Morris knows he has found the ideal repository for his talent and aspirations. The Lexington Clinic Orthopedics – Sports Medicine Department continues to grow and serve the community effectively, and bringing in physicians committed to innovation and collaboration like Morris is key to its success. Facilitating mentorship by Dr. W. Ben Kibler will ensure Lexington Clinic that Morris’ many attributes are maximally utilized.