Fellows train with ten surgical foot and ankle specialists, each with different areas of expertise in foot and ankle pathology:
Douglas Blacklidge, DPM, FACFAS
Hi. I’m Doug Blacklidge and I have been with American Health Network now Optum since 1997. I did my residency at the Detroit medical center. And then I was with a single specialty group briefly in Indianapolis, before I joined American Health Network in 1997. During the past 24 years, we’ve built a very well-respected group of now nine surgeons and two fellows in Central Indiana. The fellowship, we started in 2004, and my partner, Mike Miller, has been the Fellowship Director since we started it. My practices are in both Kokomo and Lafayette, which are both north of Indianapolis, about 45 minutes or so each, and I do some surgery on the north side of Indianapolis, but my primary locations are Kokomo and Lafayette. In Lafayette, I work at an Indiana University hospital and surgery center, and in Kokomo, I do most of my procedures at a community hospital surgery center.
My job, as far as the fellowship is concerned, I’m the Medical Director of the foot and ankle group with American Health Network, and now Optum. We were purchased by Optum several years ago, so we’re gradually going through the name change. But I’ve been our Medical Director since our group formed, and I provide training for our fellows, both in surgery and in the office two or three days a week. My primary areas of interest, as far as surgery is concerned, my practice is mostly reconstructive surgery, revision reconstructions, which I really enjoy, total ankle replacements, and nerve procedures. I like to take on the non-routine things, and offer my patients solutions to problems where they’ve often sought multiple opinions before I provide them with mine. And I enjoy that kind of challenge and practice that keeps me engaged.
And, I think our fellows and the residents that we work with, I like to challenge them to think about always why we do things or why we do what we do, And it’s that type of practice that I have. I’ve asked myself that, why I’m doing this or why I’m doing that, or why I’m doing it this way or that way, and I like to have this kind of conversations throughout the times that I get with our fellows.
What makes our fellowship unique, we have a group, a diverse group of people that are very dedicated to educating the future of foot and ankle surgery. It started with myself and Mike Miller, and it’s evolved now to a much bigger group. And I’m very proud of the group that we have, and I’m proud of our fellowship program. I think that we provide an incredible opportunity and a top-tier level of training for a one-year fellowship after somebody has completed a three-year residency in foot and ankle surgery.
So, we appreciate your interest in the program, and if you have any questions for any of us, feel free to reach out. Thank you.
J. Michael Miller, DPM, FACFAS
Hello, welcome to American Health Network’s Foot & Ankle Reconstructive Fellowship. I’m Dr. Mike Miller, I’m the director of our program. Just thought I’d give you a little introduction about our program. Here, sunny Indiana, a beautiful day out here. We started our program back in 2003. Basically we had a group of foot and ankle fellowship-trained pediatric surgeons in our group, and we were doing some nice reconstructive cases but weren’t really able to share that experience with anyone. We had residency programs in the area, but we were all just geographically dispersed. So we established the fellowship, one of the first foot and ankle fellowships in our profession back in the day. Since 2003, we’ve matriculated 20 fellows. The most recent history, we’ve had two fellows the past few years. It’s a wonderful opportunity and ministry for us to give back, and that’s why we established it.
Myself and Dr. Doug Blacklidge kind of started our group, American Health Network, which is a large multi-specialty group, probably 60% family practice primary care and 40% specialty. We were one of the first specialists or specialty programs within our group. Since then, we’ve been acquired through Optum, which has given us a great opportunity financially to really do what we want to do with the program and with our practices. It’s been a blessing. The physicians that we have, there’s 10 of us, they’re foot and ankle surgeons. Again, most of us are fellowship-trained, myself, Dr. Doug Blacklidge, Dr. Brian Elliott, Dr. Christopher Winters, Dr. Scott Hoffman, who was actually one of our fellows about 10 years ago, we kept him with our group. He’s excellent. Drew Kapsalis and Will Adams are some of our most recent fellows. Drew’s with our group. Will Adams is with a different hospital, but he is part of the program.
Colin Blackburn and Charles Sisovsky are some of our partners. One is down in Southern Indiana and then one up in Kokomo. And then Lizzie Chan just recently joined us as well. So there’s 10 foot and ankle surgeons. We do over 2000 reconstructive procedures a year. So great volume. Both of our fellows this year will get over 400 cases. They have opportunity for research. We encourage that. This is the window in your life to do research and, again, give back to the profession. And what I encourage you to do is each fellowship offers different parameters of education. Ours is a fellow first program. Basically I direct the fellows into what their interests are. If it’s trauma, if it’s reconstructive surgery, we all do kind of some specialty foot and ankle procedures, from total ankles to, I do mostly reconstructive and pediatric. Brian Elliott does a lot of trauma, so does Will Adams and Drew.
So nice variety. And basically the week consists of the fellow picking out what cases that they want to do based on their interest. We’ve had fellows come in with wonderful skills and education background. We’ve had some from three-year programs that maybe aren’t as educated or as well-versed in surgery. So my job is to take them sometimes from one level to huge experience and improvement, and sometimes it’s just fine-tuning those skills. So look into these fellowship programs and what’s best for you. Please reach out to us, either myself or most importantly the current fellows, to really get the scoop on what the fellowship’s all about. And I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.
Brian Elliott, DPM, FACFAS
Scott Hoffman, DPM, FACFAS
Hello, my name is Scott Hoffman and I am one of the attendings here at the foot and ankle reconstructive surgery fellowship program in Indianapolis. I’ve been with the program training fellows since 2015. And I have somewhat of a unique experience in that immediately prior to that, I served as the fellow for a full year. So I have insight both as the fellow and now as an attending. I think one of the things that sets this fellowship program apart is the freedom that’s given to fellows. So with that, you’re able to focus on the things that are most important to you.
On any given day, there could be a number of different surgeons involved with our program that are operating and as the fellow, or if there’s two fellows, the two of you will get to pick and choose what surgeries do you want to be at? Where do you think that you’re going to gain the most at? And basically over time, then that’s how you will acquire your skills and benefit the most for your career. Another advantage of our fellowship program, I believe is that we have multiple attendings, the overwhelming majority of which are fellowship trained either through our own one-year fellowship or through other fellowships including in Europe. Because of that they’re very well-trained doctors, they come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives. So you’re going to see quality cases, but you’re also going to see different ways to approach those quality cases. And the more and more of that you guys see throughout your training, the better you’re going to be equipped, filling up your toolbox for practice.
I can tell you having been in practice after my residency and my one year in fellowship, there hasn’t been a single case or a single patient that I’ve seen in clinic where I wasn’t able to come up with some sort of plan. I may not have performed that exact case in the exact same manner before, but at least I had seen so many different ways to approach different pathology and the feeling of being prepared and confident coming into cases is something that I attribute very, very much to this fellowship program. My personal interests, I guess, span the whole gamut. I do a lot of elective surgery, elective reconstructive, whether it’s forefoot or a rearfoot. But then just a little bit of everything. I like to consider myself a hybrid of some of the other attendings in our group that were around to train me. I have a big background with sports medicine as well.
I’ve been a competitive runner for most of my life. So that’s part of my passion that drew me to the field of podiatric medicine, just having injured myself many times and gone through that process. So that’s one area of interest for me. I may be biased but having participated in this fellowship, I can’t say enough about how great of an experience it was. It basically set my life forward so many years ahead of where I had thought I might be. Starting day one of practice I felt confident, prepared that I’d be able to handle anything that came into the office. The diversity of attendings, all the different strategies, ways of approaching cases, different ways of fixating, different ways of dissecting everything. It allowed me to pick and choose what works best for me, what works best in my hands.
Andrew Kapsalis, DPM, AACFAS
Hi, my name is Drew Kapsalis. I’m with the American Health Network Foot and Ankle Reconstructive Surgical Fellowship here in Indianapolis area. My practices are based out of Greenfield and Muncie, which are kind of East Side, Northeast side of central Indiana. I am a research coordinator here at the fellowship. In a past fellow, I graduated in 2018, alongside co-fellow, Will Adams who works in Greenfield as well. The one in a different location. My areas of interest within the program are reconstruction, deformity correction. I enjoy pediatrics and nerve surgery, as well as some sports medicine here and there. Otherwise, how long I’ve been with the program? I kind of stated I graduated here in 2018, joined right afterward, and have been here ever since.
Why I think this fellowship is unique compared to others? It’s fellow first, fellow driven, so you get out what you put in, ultimately. It’s run and organized by a ton of attendings who are extremely ethical, very cost-effective, and very family oriented. I grew up in a big giant Greek family, and all I know is family has the code, just like Vin Diesel, family is my mantra in life. And so, I just felt like I really fit in here and that’s a big thing for most people, I believe. And so, ultimately, all the attendings here have been trained through fellowships, whether it’s within the nation here, East Coast, West Coast, this fellowship itself, or even in Europe, such as in Germany or Austria.
So, we don’t just have national ideals, we have global ideals. And even those trained here at this program, such as myself or Dr. Hoffman, we are technically hybrids of all of the above. However, we still practice completely independently of each other and have different ideas. And so, you’re getting different training from each attending, without any sort of inbreeding, which is pretty outstanding to me. Otherwise, having done this fellowship, it a 100% changed my life. I cannot imagine going through what I’m doing without having done the fellowship. It’s not meant to be an additional residency year, it’s meant to be fine tuning certain skills and honing certain things and getting out of it what you need. And so, not doing dictations and documentation and the mumbo-jumbo that residents are made to do. You get to focus on the surgery and your learning and your research and you get out of it everything that you possibly can. So, we hope that you want to stop by and learn some things in person and actually join our fellowship. Thank you.
Wil Adams, DPM, AACFAS
My name is Wil Adams. I work at Hancock Regional Hospital. I practice in the orthopedic group here at the hospital, and I’ve been doing so since I finished my fellowship at American Health Network in 2018. I’ve really enjoyed getting to participate in the fellowship, both as a fellow myself, like I said, four years ago, but now as an attending., It’s been really fulfilling and enjoyable to get to be the fellow, and then train the fellows, and get to see both sides of the coin, so to speak.
I think one thing that sets our fellowship apart from some of the other fellowships around the country is that it is a multi-surgeon fellowship. Fellows come in and they get to train with multiple attendings that have multiple different ways of doing things. And I think that that is a big benefit for somebody that is coming in and looking to advance their skillset and to learn, and to see a different way of doing things. I think that it’s important for somebody to learn the ability to think on the fly, and to see how multiple different people do that, and not just get habituated to the way that one person does that. And so I think that anytime there’s opportunity for somebody to receive education and training from a multi-surgeon fellowship, I do think that makes us unique and sets us apart from some of the other programs, where there’s only one attending or two that is available to scrub surgeries with.
I think another unique aspect to the fellowship at American Health Network is that the attendings practice in a variety of settings. Myself and Dr. Brian Elliott both worked for orthopedic groups. The other attendings all work for American Health Network. And so I think that, as a fellow, it’s not only important to learn surgical skills, but it’s also neat for fellows to have the opportunity to come to clinic when they have time off and they’re not doing research, for them to see how we function on a daily basis and interact with staff, and see patients in different settings.
Lastly, in terms of what I focus on and what I enjoy on a day-to-day basis, is probably the high volume of revision cases we do. I think myself and the other attendings get to see and do a lot of cases that are coming to us as either a second opinion or looking for answers maybe that weren’t provided to them somewhere else. And so, I think that that provides the fellows a good, unique opportunity to be involved with cases where we have to come up with a little bit more innovative ways to fix things and to approach them, that you may not necessarily find somewhere else. We tend to be pretty spread out around the Indianapolis areas, and so there’s a unique and diverse patient demographic that we’re able to draw from. And so I think all of those are things that make our fellowship unique and special, and make it a really great process and thing to be a part of.