Professional Profile: Newton C. McCollough III MD

Introduction by Sandra Smith


Dr. Newton McCollough III, MD, is the featured member for this installment of the Professional Profile series. Dr. McCollough is well known for his contributions to the fields of Prosthetics and Orthotics through hundreds of publications and lectures, as well as serving on the American Board for Certification in Prosthetics and Orthotics and the board of the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics. He is a past President of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and Director of Medical Affairs at Shriners Hospitals for Children until 2000. As a founder, board member and president, his contributions were instrumental in the development of present day ACPOC.

What inspired you to become a pediatric orthopedist? Can you identify a mentor that influenced your career path?

During my orthopaedic residency at the University of Miami, I spent a year in pediatric orthopedics under the tutelage of Robert P. Keiser, MD. We treated a lot of polio patients from Cuba during that time and I found the pathomechanics of residual polio and the orthotic and surgical correction of these deficits fascinating. This foundation in biomechanics, and kinesiology served as a sound basis for understanding and treating many other orthopaedic problems of childhood, including cerebral palsy, spina bifida and importantly, child amputees. My father, also an orthopaedist, had a keen interest in pediatric orthopaedics and especially in the child amputee. He was one of the original 13 Child Amputee Clinic Chiefs organized under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Prosthetics Research and Development.

Throughout my orthopaedic training and later in practice with my father, I had the opportunity of attending many of the Clinic Chiefs meetings and getting to know the then experts in the field of child prosthetics: Tom Aitken, MD, Charles Franz ,MD, Claude Lambert, MD, Ernie Burgess, MD, Leon Kruger MD and many others. In addition, my interest in rehabilitation and prosthetics and orthotics was stimulated by Drs. Augusto Sarmiento, Clinton Compere, Vernon Nickel, and Jacqueline Perry; also by Ben Wilson, Hector Kay, Sid Fishman, Tony Staros, Colin McLaurin, Dick Lehneis, John Glancy and Chuck Fryer. All of these folks led me to an increasing interest and involvement in pediatric orthopaedics and in the prosthetic and orthotic fields.

What do you like best about being a pediatric orthopaedist?

The challenges encountered of correcting deformities in a growing ever changing organism, and the satisfaction of having given a disabled child a better chance of living an active, productive life as an adult.

Where have you practiced?

Private practice with my father in Orlando, FL; US Navy with the Marines in Vietnam and Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital; Academic Practice at the University of Miami; and Administrative Medicine as Medical Director for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

How many years have you been a member of ACPOC and what has been your involvement with ACPOC?

Presently, I am retired and inactive in the Association. However, I was involved with ACPOC at it's inception in 1977-1978. I was on the organizing group for the Association after the Amputee Clinic Chiefs meetings were de-funded by the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council along with the prosthetic and orthotic education and research centers in 1976. In 1978 or 1979, following the first meeting in Memphis, I hosted the meeting held in Miami, FL at the Americana Hotel. I have served on the Board of Directors and as ACPOC's President I felt I had the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the Association.

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

We had great hopes for success as a truly interdisciplinary organization for the sharing of knowledge and ideas; not just in the care of the child amputee, but for the care of other children with rehabilitative needs which no previous organization had effectively addressed. Our greatest hopes were realized as the organization grew over the years, became a respected professional Association and unquestionably has contributed much to the well being of thousands of children with limb deficiency and deformity.

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

I belong to AAOS, POSNA, SRS, ACS, and ABA, among several others. With the exception of the American Burn Association, no other of these organizations can compare with the truly interdisciplinary nature of ACPOC, and great benefit of improving knowledge and understanding among disciplines for the ultimate benefit of the patient.

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

I don't think ACPOC would have happened without the vision and driving force of Dr. Sid Fishman who spearheaded the organizing group back in 1976-1977. Other members of the organizing group, as I recall were Dr.Yoshio Setagouchi, Dr. Charlie Epps, Dr. Robert Tooms, Dr. Leon Kruger and Dr. Hector Kay. Others, too numerous to mention, have also been significant contributors to the organization.

What is the most valuable benefit of your ACPOC membership?

Getting to know folks from all over the continent with similar interests and learning from other disciplines caring for the unique needs of our patient population. I have learned from the experience of others how to manage unusual and rare conditions. I especially enjoy the camaraderie of those who are caring for the same group of patients and faced with similar issues.

Do you have a favorite conference or conference memory?

For me the first meeting in Memphis was a historical and uplifting event.

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

No. If I had one I am sure I have long since repressed it!

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

I was married in 1968 to Mary Semanski, a Navy nurse. We have two children: Peter and Amy, and three grandchildren. My interests are enjoying family in retirement, boating, fishing and golf.

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

Staying alive and being able to enjoy my family, boating and other interests in retirement.

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

Caring for the handicapped child is a complex and protracted undertaking for which interdisciplinary care is essential. The orthopaedist who attempts to care for these problems without the participation of others in a team effort is not likely to be successful. Mutual respect for the capabilities of disciplines other than one's own is the key to effective teamwork.

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

Even though I am not really up to date on the organization, the future should be bright. I would advise, however, that the membership should be careful not to succumb to the common problem of interdisciplinary organizations i.e. creating separate sections for each discipline within the meeting. This would eventually fragment the organization and may lead to its demise.