Often we determine or talk about a surgeon’s learning curve in terms of how many procedures need to be performed to gain proficiency in the procedure. The number is a general guide or an average. The acquirement of new skills that are built on a foundation of experience is steeper for someone at the outset of a career. Yet, even the most experienced surgeon embarks on a new learning curve journey when a technique is first introduced, working through a number of cases to become comfortable with the approach or instrumentation and learning the nuances. Learning is a never-ending process and must last a professional lifetime. Knowledge is incessantly enlarged, and skills are honed and honed again. Every patient is a teacher, and every encounter an opportunity to learn incidentally or cumulatively. “The amateur practices so that he can get it right. The professional practices so that he cannot get it wrong.”
A number of things can facilitate the surgeon’s journey by flattening the learning curve: from serving as an apprentice to viewing a video to practicing on cadavers or sawbones. In this issue, experts provide the complementary approach of providing the finer details of the techniques and with carefully chosen images about the complex and sometimes daunting problems encountered in foot and ankle surgery. In addition, Techniques in Foot and Ankle Surgery (TFAS) will begin to offer continuing medical education material in each issue, starting with Chopart’s Joint article in this December issue. We hope that all articles will help foster the skills and continued education of both novice and seasoned foot and ankle surgeons.
Vinod K. Panchbhavi, MD, FRCS, FACS
University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX.