Making Contacts Through Research and SOMOS

by Dr. Chad Krueger

Reluctantly, I completed one research project my intern year. I was not very interested in research, didn’t understand how to move things forward and, more than anything, had no idea how it would benefit my career. Still, the energy surrounding research within my residency was palpable and impossible to ignore. So, I decided to take on a project looking at the contamination of scrubs during a call shift. And that one singular project has lead to doors being opened that I had no idea even existed.

That one project was selected to be presented at a local meeting and while at that meeting, I met David Teuscher. Through my discussions with him at the meeting, I was able to get involved with the Texas Orthopaedic Association. That involvement led me to become involved with the AAOS Office of Government Relations through which I have been able to participate for many years and meet an incredible number of mentors and friends who have assisted me throughout my career.

This brief sequence of events also gave me insight as to the powerful impact that my participation in research could have on my career. This, in turn, led me to apply for the research year which gave me further opportunities to develop my skills as a researcher, learn how to effectively communicate with others, present at meetings and, most importantly, develop personal relationships. It is the latter that has been invaluable to my career. Because of the relatively frequent turnover within the Military, it is very easy for your professional network to grow quite quickly. When someone you have worked with closely in the Military moves on to a civilian position, the number of opportunities expands. Likewise, when a new staff member comes to your Military facility, the same occurs. Every research project provides the opportunity to demonstrate to others your work ethic, ability to think critically and personality. Taking advantage of these opportunities has allowed my career to grow exponentially. Without that initial research project, I’m not sure how much of this would have developed.

My research activities have also given me an opportunity to present at numerous national meetings. It is at these meetings that so many of my other friendships and mentors have been developed. These relationships have most certainly given me opportunities within the AAOS, subspecialty committees and academic entities that would otherwise not have happened. Furthermore, my involvement in research has given me more credibility than I would otherwise have when I have sought to become involved in a new committee or position. Demonstrating the ability to work with others on a question and develop a tangible product (ie a research paper) is no different than what many committees work on as well.
In short, research has been invaluable to my career and individual growth. I have made lasting friendships, met incredible mentors and been granted precocious opportunity secondary to my involvement. I had no idea what I was doing as an intern. But thanks to some patient mentors and a supportive structure, one simple project has allowed me to have a career I would have never thought possible.