Fitz’s clinical interests include minimally invasive hip and knee replacements as well as complex revision surgeries. His research interests include clinical outcome studies, health disparities, periprosthetic fractures, conversion total joint arthroplasty and prosthetic joint infections.
Let’s Get to Know Him:
Q: What were you doing before you came to UW Medicine?
A: I was completing my training as an adult reconstruction fellow at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Q: Why did you join UW Medicine?
A: When I was looking at jobs, I knew I wanted an academic position that afforded the opportunity for research as well as resident teaching. I also wanted a job where I could focus on primary and revision hip and knee replacements in a department with a strong orthopedic reputation. UW Medicine fit these criteria.
Q: How have you adjusted to moving from Massachusetts to the West Coast?
A: My wife and I have really enjoyed it, even though this has been a weird year with the pandemic. The water, mountains and islands are on a much grander scale than they are out east.
We are foodies and have heard so much about the food scene out here, but with COVID-19 we haven’t really had the opportunity to try many places out, so that’s something we look forward to doing in the future.
Q: What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
A: I was a history and literature major in college. A large portion of my college education was focused on historical documents, poetry and novels rather than science. My senior thesis was on literature about the Vietnam War. I had always known that I wanted to be a doctor, but in college I was interested in so many things. The history and literature major at Harvard allowed students to take seminars where you could design your own reading list and shape the class however you wanted — it was such a fun way to develop an education.
My parents were really supportive. They said, “You have the rest of your life to become a doctor.” So I studied what was interesting to me and, with electives and summer school courses, I had enough prerequisites to apply to medical school.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
A: I am a big fan of movies and I like going to the movie theater, which has been affected by COVID-19. So I started a new hobby: baking French macarons. They are such a challenge. I probably have made about six or seven batches since the pandemic started.
Q: What made you want to become an orthopedic surgeon?
A: When I started medical school, I realized I wanted to go into a specialty with immediate results, a problem that I could fix in the most immediate sense. I like taking a problem and finding a direct solution. For example, if a patient comes in with a broken bone, we intervene and it’s fixed.
Additionally, orthopedics gets people back to enjoying sports and other things that they like. I was an athlete and played volleyball through college and had my own sports injuries, so orthopedic surgeon was always on my shortlist of careers. It was when I got to train on different specialties and be on different services that I realized this was really what I wanted to do.
Q: What are some of your areas of interest within orthopedics?
A: My focus is on hip and knee reconstruction via replacements and partial replacements. Partial knee replacements, like patellofemoral or arthroplasty replacements can be, in my opinion, better than a total replacement.
But partial replacements are not for everyone, and I would like to get a research study off the ground to help determine who the best candidates are so that we can start expanding this option to more people.
Q: What are your goals for the department and what you can do for patients?
A: I have been invited to be part of the arthroplasty curriculum for residents and I want to bring a beneficial part of my training to this curriculum. I want students to learn based on challenging patient cases rather than just by lecture. I want to help reshape how we teach arthroplasty in a way that is more beneficial and engaging for them.
Additionally, I am focused on helping patients get back to enjoying the things they love. Whether it’s an athlete getting back to sports quickly or helping an older adult get back to their favorite pastime like hiking, biking or skiing.
My main goal is to get people to the quality of life that they want to live, so I always talk to my patients about all of their options, and sometimes surgery isn’t the only course of action. I try to treat people as conservatively as I can and do what’s best for them.