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from left to right: James Waddell and Santiago Ponce

Santiago Ponce was a medical student in Ecuador in 2006 when he met Jim Waddell at the Orthopaedic Congress in Ecuador (Sociedad Ecuatoriana De Ortopedia Y Traumatologia). The Congress originated as a course started by University of Toronto graduate and Sunnybrook physician Paul Roberts, who made heroic contributions during and following 11 years as a medical missionary to Ecuador from 1949 to 1960. Recognizing the need for orthopaedic training, the Toronto orthopaedic surgeons elected to teach 100 surgeons rather than perform 10 operations, a very productive management decision. Canadian doctors pay for their own transportation and the Ecuadorian doctors provide housing. The teaching program is presented every 2 years.

Santiago: “An orthopaedic doctor on the faculty told me to attend the congress, but the fee was $80, a very large expense for a medical student. My mother, who has been my constant advocate, told me to attend and paid the registration fee. I met Drs. Jim Waddell, Dave Backstein, and Tim Daniels. I contacted Dr. Waddell via e-mail to ask for a chance to come to Toronto as a medical student observer. I spent 6 weeks at St. Michael’s in 2006. It was an amazing experience. Later in 2007, I took the MCCQE1 (Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination) and came again to work with Tim Daniels on a foot and ankle surgery observership.

I hoped to get in to the Orthopaedic Surgery residency program in Toronto, but the paperwork was obstructive, so in 2008 I went to Madrid, settled there, and I did my residency in Orthopaedic Surgery in a 5 year program. I kept in touch with Dr. Waddell by regular e-mail and in March 2012 I asked for a fellowship post. I arrived in July of 2013 for a fellowship position in Lower Limb Reconstruction and Trauma at St. Michael’s Hospital. This has been an amazing experience. When I was here in 2006, I spent time in the operating room, the clinic and the office. I was impressed with how well organized and how well resourced the service was, and how personal the relationship was to the patient. The doctors cared for the patient as a person, and the efficiency was astonishing.”

Santiago attended the Faculty of Medicine in Quito, at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. His mother is the Director of the Language Department at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. His father is an agronomical engineer. “I studied medicine in Quito, at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. I have always been close to my family. I got married in 2010 to Danitza, who is currently doing her residency in Geriatrics in Madrid, and will finish next May. She is currently on an observer rotation at St. Michael’s Hospital. My mother has been an important pillar of my support, and inspiration in everything that I have done. She pushed me to approach Dr. Waddell and he put me in touch with St. Michael’s Hospital, and now serves as my mentor and preceptor. This fellowship has been the best thing that happened to me in my career. It is the “cereza del pastel that perfects my training”.

Jim Waddell: “We have a very good observership program at St. Michael’s, facilitated by Medical Staff Liaison Officer Narisha Jiwa, who does the coordination for observers. It has been great to watch Santiago develop and then take his skills back to Ecuador - that’s what it’s all about. He is well trained and has done good academic work, including a review on hip fractures. The most important part of the educational experience in my view is the life experience living in Toronto, to see the country, the city and meet other fellows.”


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