Professional Profile: Dr. John Fisk, MD

Sandra Smith and Janet Marshall


What event or person inspired or mentored you to become a pediatric orthopaedist?

Robert Winter was Chief at Gillette Children's Hospital when I was a resident. Although he concentrated his practice on spinal deformity the majority of his patients were pediat-ric. He became a mentor and role model for me throughout my training and subsequently as he helped me in my academic pursuits.

What do you like best about being a pediatric orthopaedist?

I like to make a child smile. Often the physician's office is intimidating to a child. I see no reason why their medical care can not be made as pleasant as possible.

Where have you practiced? Describe your different practices and related work environments (i.e. university relationships).

I began after residency with two years with the U.S. Army stationed in Korea. This afforded me an opportunity to see a different culture and different medical needs in that culture. Actually there were two different cultures, that of the Army and that of the Korean civilians. This is when I began caring for disabled children in under developed cultures. Next, I spent approximately two and one-half years on the faculty at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. I experienced an academic orthopaedic practice in a university setting as well as supervising residents at a county hospital and running an adult amputee service at a Veteran's hospital. I then moved to Loyola University in Chicago to advance my pediatric orthopaedic experience. I became embroiled in departmental politics and found that location unsuited for my priorities. I left Loyola in 1979 for eleven years of private practice in the Chicago suburbs. During that time I directed the child amputee clinic at Chicago Shriners Hospital. In 1990, after determining that I knew what I would be doing tomorrow as it was exactly what I was doing the day before, I decided to return to academic orthopaedics and moved to Springfield, Illinois, where I joined the faculty at SIU School of Medicine. This location has been my most enjoyable as it has afforded me an opportunity to concentrate my clinical practice on those areas which I most enjoy and to work with an outstanding group of orthopaedic residents who have been strongly motivated to learn and very enjoyable to work with. While at SIU, I have been able to pursue and develop my own personal interests which primarily deal with international work in prosthetic and orthotic education.

Would you like to share any information about your family and other interests?

I have six children and eight grandchildren. My wife is also a healthcare professional. We share and enjoy each other's interests and look forward to a period of retirement so that we may pay more attention to each other.


How many years have you been a member of ACPOC?

I have been a member of ACPOC for twenty-five years.

Have you served as a host for any of the annual meetings?

Yes, we hosted the Chicago event in 1989.

What Board/Office/Committees have you served on?

I have been President, have served on the board for an extended period of time and have been editor of the Journal of ACPOC.

Which position was the most satisfying or offered the best opportunity for you to make a difference?

I enjoyed my time as President during which we brought professional management to the organization. I especially enjoyed selecting the Presidential guest speakers and Hector Kay speakers for our annual meeting.

What is your present role with ACPOC?

I run a very active orthotic clinic under a team model and enjoy encouraging involvement in ACPOC of other members on the team although this has been an uphill struggle.


What was your first impression of the organization? What is your present assessment of ACPOC?

Because of the team composition in ACPOC's membership I have always enjoyed a very warm and collegial relationship. None of the academic ladder climbing that I see in some of my other professional societies. I think ACPOC needs to continue to be supportive of those teams dealing with orthotic and prosthetic issues as it is an excellent forum for bringing people with similar concerns together.

What other organizations do you belong to and how does ACPOC compare?

I belong to the Scoliosis Research Society, the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics, and the American Orthopaedic Association. Each one of those societies values the team approach and holds the same core values that ACPOC does. ACPOC however goes beyond those organizations in respecting a more equal participation of all of the members of the team in its meetings.

Who in your estimation has been a key contributor to the organization?

Two people come to mind, the first is Leon Kruger as a knowledgeable resource in limb deficiency. The second is Hugh Watts for his insistence on honesty and accuracy as we engage ourselves in discussions at annual meetings.

What is the most valuable benefit of your ACPOC membership?

It introduced me to a resource of expertise and information in caring for difficult and unique pediatric disabilities.


Do you have a favorite conference or conference memory? And why?

The Chicago annual meeting that I chaired and hosted is most memorable because of the symposium that we conducted on upper extremity amelia. There were at least ten young adults from around the country who returned to participate with Harold Wilke in discussing and demonstrating to us their lives with no arms.

Do you remember a "most embarrassing moment" at ACPOC?



Please share any advice to the membership regarding the orthopaedic care provided to children.

Remember that a child's primary interest is their life and their activities. Their disability is generally well accepted by them. However, the reverse priority may be the case with their parents. We need to help the parents and family understand the true potential of their child.

What are your passions, goals, or pet projects for the next 10 years?

My goal is to continue to support the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics and its activities in developing better care for individuals in developing countries. In addition, I hope to pursue a summer time of relaxation at our vacation property in north-eastern Ontario and a winter time of blue water sailing.

What does the future hold for ACPOC and do you feel there are obstacles that may need to be addressed?

I think that ACPOC will always have struggle to maintain active participation of its membership as there are many other professional societies that will be drawing these individuals away. It must strive to keep its educational contribution high in order to encourage meeting attendance and participation.