When K. Keely Boyle, MD, was accepted into the adult reconstruction and joint replacement fellowship at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City — the No. 1-ranked orthopaedics hospital in the country for 11 straight years by U.S. News & World Report — she wasn’t intimidated in the least.
Her training in the five-year orthopaedics residency program at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences had prepared her well.
“It was a wonderful learning experience. The best part about the Jacobs School program is that you receive autonomy very early on,” Boyle says.
She trained at Erie County Medical Center (Western New York’s only Level 1 Adult Trauma Center) as well as Buffalo General Hospital under gifted surgeons.
“By the time I got to fellowship, I was one of two fellows who could really operate from day one. It was great to have the confidence from residency to be able to walk into one of the best fellowships in joint replacement in the country and have them say ‘wow, she’s really good at what she’s doing and we trust her enough to make important decisions,’” Boyle says. “They turned me loose pretty early on.”
At the end of her fellowship, she was granted the prestigious Hospital for Special Surgery Research Excellence Award.
Boyle credits her mentors — now colleagues — at the Jacobs School and UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine — Leslie J. Bisson, MD; Thomas R. Duquin, MD; and Christopher A. Ritter, MD, — with helping her grow as a surgeon, a researcher and a person.
Now she is giving back — in her role as a clinical assistant professor of orthopaedics, in addition to her practice.
“I wanted to do what Tom Duquin and Chris Ritter and others did for me. I was able to get a great residency, a great fellowship and a great job coming back,” Boyle says.
She is now paying it forward.
“Now I’m the one training new residents. It is amazing to see somebody go from not knowing how to hold a knife in the operating room to where they’re putting implants in — and they’re doing it well. It’s very fulfilling and it gives me purpose,” she adds.
Boyle has a love for orthopaedics and wants to bring more female physicians into what has traditionally been a male-dominated field.
She is one of the female surgeons within the Department of Orthopaedics who have been tasked by Bisson — the June A. and Eugene R. Mindell, MD, Professor and Chair of orthopaedics — to find ways to attract more female residents into the program.
“We talked with women within the field of orthopaedics who are already practicing surgeons and also young women in medical school to learn what the barriers are to entering orthopaedics. When we interviewed female medical students, they told us there are limited female mentors,” Boyle says. “We’re working to address that. We want to become much more visible to female medical students — to show them that this is actually a wonderful field for women.”
Boyle, a native of Washington, D.C., earned her medical degree at George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences. But while she grew up and went to school in D.C., Buffalo now feels like home.
“I love Buffalo. It’s incredibly exciting to see not only the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus spring up, but also downtown being revitalized. My partner, who is also a joint replacement surgeon, and I bought a house downtown, so we’ve seen the change,” she says.
After experiencing big city life in D.C. and New York City, she has found that the “City of Good Neighbors” truly lives up to its name.
“In Buffalo, it’s so different. It’s the little things. People hold the door for you, they smile, they say good morning. It’s just a totally different feel. The patients I’ve operated on are so thankful,” she says.
She found that out when she operated on an ultramarathoner, giving him a new hip. He couldn’t thank her and her team enough.
“The level of appreciation from our patients brings me to tears at times. That’s an underpinning of what I see in Buffalo. And 90 percent of the people I see in the office are that way. It’s wonderful. It makes me love my job,” Boyle says.