How do I succeed in trauma surgery?

Prof. Dr. Renkawitz: "Make medicine your passion"

Aerztestellen.de talks to successful doctors about important experiences, insights gained and unusual requests. This time Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz our questions. He has been Medical Director of the University Clinic for Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery in Heidelberg since September 15, 2020.

Professor Renkawitz, why did you actually become an orthopedic surgeon?

Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz: Orthopedics is movement, dynamism. Musculoskeletal medicine offers an incredibly wide range. High-tech surgical procedures shape my specialty as much as conservative orthopedics, preventive medicine and rehabilitation - and everything from infancy to life-experienced patients. In addition, I have a particular passion for sports medicine and the care of top athletes. That, too, focused my compass on orthopedics early on.

What is essential for you so that you can work well?

Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz: A team with whom I can work in a professional environment and the opportunity to offer my patients the best orthopedic supply concepts without any restrictions.

What's the best advice you've gotten on your career path?

Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz: In surgery, situations often have to be reassessed intraoperatively. You prepare for this and discuss alternatives with the team before the operation. I started in general and trauma surgery. An experienced senior surgeon always ended this meeting with the sentence "Failure is not an option!" Later he gave me a book with the same title, "Failure is not an option" by Eugene Francis "Gene" Kranz. The philosophy and advice to continue working in a solution-oriented and concentrated manner in a team, even under difficult conditions, has guided me since then. It is very important to me to pass this on to young doctors.

What do you value most in other people?

Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz: Commitment in dealing and reliability in implementing common goals. Regardless, I like people with a fine sense of humor. That makes collaboration easier.

What is it that drives you?

Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz: For more than a decade I have been working on joint-preserving and replacing procedures on the knee and hip joint. When I think about the progress we have made for our patients over the past five years through our new surgical techniques in these two focus areas alone, I find it extremely motivating. But I'm interested in the whole range of our subject. For example, it is now possible to enable children with congenital malformations or patients with severe paraplegia to use complex hand-surgery operations to regain a grip function. That’s fascinating. In addition, for me personally, the cooperation between our university sports orthopedics and the Rhine-Neckar Olympic base, the Bundesliga and national teams is a great pleasure and a source of regenerative energy.

Who would you like to spend an evening with?

Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz: Angela Merkel, Jürgen Klopp and Barack Obama - but not with all three at the same time, but each individually.

What is your advice to young doctors?

Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz: Three things. First: make medicine not only your profession, but also your passion. Second: Find teachers who can develop not only their technical competence, but also their personality. Third, study evidence-based medicine. The method is certainly not beyond reproach, but it makes you feel good. This is because it offers a tool kit for everyday medical use with which it is possible to identify and quantify the patient benefit of diagnostic and therapeutic measures.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?

Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz: I always find relaxation in sports. I am fascinated by ball sports and, as a native of Bavaria, I grew up on a mountain bike.

What is the German health system lacking?

Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz: The corona pandemic has shown us the strengths but also the limits of our health system. Despite the criticism, which is certainly justified in many places, I am still convinced that we have one of the best health systems in the world. In order for it to stay that way, we have to focus on promoting the human component in the system. In my area of ​​expertise, the system-immanent revenue models still offer too many false incentives. On the other hand, meaningful therapeutic measures with a misguided benefit assessment are misinterpreted and regulated. It would be important to correct this development.

When are you happy?

Prof. Dr. Tobias Renkawitz: Even if it sounds stereotypical: The greatest happiness for me is when my family is healthy and I can help my patients. But friendships, sporting successes, new challenges and an active everyday life with time in the mountains and on the water also make me happy.