Limb fractures, dismemberment and other severe injuries suffered in combat can impact a soldier’s life immensely. Many undergo amputations and have to adjust to living with prosthetics.
Throughout his career, Paul Dougherty, MD, has taken a particular interest in combat wounds and the effects they have on military servicemen and women. He’s conducted extensive research on the topic and has had numerous papers published in peer-reviewed journals. Now, as he balances his new responsibilities at UF Health, he looks to keep that interest in high regard.
Dougherty is professor and chair of orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville. He’s been part of the UF Health family since September, coming to Jacksonville from the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University in Michigan, where he was a professor and director of its orthopaedic surgery residency program.
Dougherty said he was drawn to the UF COMJ orthopaedics department because of, among other strengths, its faculty and existing training partnerships with other institutions in the region.
“I’m enjoying being here,” he said. “The department has a great foundation, and we’re just looking to build on what’s already in place.”
A chief goal is to expand the department by hiring more faculty. Within the next year, Dougherty plans to bring on three new faculty members — one for each of the adult reconstruction, foot and ankle, and trauma surgery divisions. Meanwhile, Dougherty, who directs the orthopaedic surgery residency program, wants to see more emphasis on training and research — all in an attempt to further UF Health’s educational mission.
He speaks of an “osteoporosis epidemic” that’s affecting men and women at alarming rates. Bone health experts say more than 53 million Americans either have the disease or are at high risk due to low bone mass, and the numbers are expected to keep rising.
To address that, Dougherty wants to develop a special “one-stop” UF Health clinic that will provide comprehensive bone care for at-risk patients in the area. In addition to offering conventional orthopaedic services, specialties would also include radiology, endocrinology and internal medicine, among other disciplines. The idea is to house the clinic at UF Health North, which is soon opening an inpatient bed tower to complement the existing medical office building.
“I think it’ll be a really good clinic to set up in the north. It’s something that’s not available here,” Dougherty said. “It’ll be a much-needed service to the city.”
A passion for orthopaedics
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Dougherty received his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland. He completed orthopaedic surgery residencies at Letterman Army Medical Center and the Naval Regional Medical Center, both in the Bay Area. He later completed a fellowship in orthopaedic trauma at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
Dougherty served as an orthopaedic surgeon in the U.S. Army, a position that gave him the opportunity to treat wounded soldiers in Somalia and Afghanistan. During his second deployment to Afghanistan, he helped establish a new medical facility that provided comprehensive services to injured military personnel.
Dougherty, who retired from the Army in 2012 as a colonel, has taken a particular research interest in the care of military amputees. He conducted a nearly 30-year follow-up study of service personnel who lost limbs during the Vietnam War due to combat injuries.
Some of his notable research papers have examined how orthopaedic education for physicians is conducted in countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, India and China. He’s now editing a book titled “The Orthopaedic Educator,” which explores differences in orthopaedic surgery training around the world. It details the history and progression of orthopaedic graduate medical education in the United States and outlines the elements that make for a successful training program.
He authored three of the 12 chapters of the book, which is set to be published later this year.
Dougherty is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and a member of the American Orthopaedic Association, Orthopaedic Trauma Association, and Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons. He is also a board examiner for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons.