JPOSNA® Reviewer Profile
The goal of the JPOSNA® Reviewer Profile Series is to periodically recognize an outstanding member of our volunteer JPOSNA® peer reviewer board. We aim to highlight the exceptional work these individuals do for our Journal, without whom JPOSNA® would not be possible.
Volume 5, Number 1, February 2023
Walter Truong, MD
St. Paul, MN
What are your subspecialty interests within Pediatric Orthopaedics?
Pediatric Spine Deformity represents the majority of my elective practice. This is so complex and rewarding, as more than half of my spine patients have neuromuscular, syndromic, or congenital diagnoses. These are higher-risk patients and surgeries, and higher stress for me but that makes it more fulfilling. The other part of my elective practice revolves around mostly neuromuscular hip reconstructions and general pediatric orthopaedics.
Twenty percent of my practice still involves pediatric orthopaedic trauma. I spend a day a week at our level one trauma hospital doing either clinic or covering the trauma room. This is a respite from my spine practice, as the patients are generally healthy and the recovery is so immediate.
Teaching and research are also priorities for me in my role as site director for residents at Gillette from three different institutions and I lead multiple studies related to spine deformity and trauma. I am proud to be part of great multicenter groups such as CORTICES, IMPACCT, and PSSG.
Where did you complete your pre-medical, post-graduate, and medical education?
I grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where my parents settled our family after being accepted as refugees after the Vietnam war. Our family was in a Malaysian refugee camp for 18 months where I was born, and my brother was born 12 months later. We both have United Nations birth certificates. My parents are amazing people and built a great life for us in Calgary. I went to the University of Calgary for undergraduate work and studied genetics. I really wanted to go to the U.S. for medical school to get a different perspective on medical care, and I chose the Ohio State College of Medicine and Public Health. It was a great fit for me.
Where did you complete your residency and fellowship training?
I did my residency training at the University of Minnesota. I already knew I wanted to go into Pediatric Orthopaedics, so I chose it because of the strong pediatric orthopaedics at Gillette Children’s and trauma exposure at Hennepin County and Regions. Also, the weather didn’t bother me.
Fellowship was at SickKids in Toronto (Hospital for Sick Children/University of Toronto). It was a great year with two North American fellows (myself and Emily Dodwell who is now at HSS in NY) and three other co-fellows from overseas. I shared time with amazing people and their families from Israel, the UK, New Zealand, Portugal, and the Netherlands. Still great friends today. Such great mentors and a great city for my wife to take care of our newborn son.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Coaching my two kids in basketball, baseball/softball, snowboarding, and playing pickup basketball myself. I also dabble in yoga and spin classes with my wife where she gets to destroy me and keeps me humble. Another thing that keeps me grounded is a Central American medical mission trip that I participate in each year. It really helps me step back, gain perspective, recharge and appreciate all the things I take for granted.
What was/were the most influential factor in your decision to pursue a career in Pediatric Orthopaedics?
I always knew I was going to go into a pediatric field when I went to medical school. I was the oldest of 12 cousins and really enjoyed taking care of the younger ones and helping them out. This carried over into medical school where I considered Pediatric Neurosurgery and Pediatric Cardiology. In fact, I had my ERAS application up for Med/Peds so I could be a cardiologist from birth to death. I just loved the pathophysiology. But then I did my peds ortho rotation at the beginning of my fourth year and things just clicked. The surgeons were happy, the residents were like me, and the surgeries were fascinating. I had great mentors in Columbus, including Dr. Martin Torch and Dr. Alan Beebe. They set me on this path that I’ve never regretted going on and hope to lay the brickwork for future generations.