February 06, 2023

Meet Ryan Calfee, MD, MSc

Hand & Microsurgery Specialist 

Dr. Calfee received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. He received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Calfee completed his residency at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, RI, where he also completed a fellowship in Orthopedic Trauma. In addition, Dr. Calfee completed a fellowship in Hand and Microvascular Surgery at the University of Cincinnati Hospital in Cincinnati, OH.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Gainesville, Florida. It is small college town and it definitely instilled in me a love for the Florida Gators. 

What made you choose orthopedics and hand surgery as a specialty?

I first learned about orthopedic surgery as a medical student. I was instantly hooked on this field that performed procedures and treated patients to keep them active. I actually first rotated in hand surgery as a fourth-year medical student here at Washington University while Dr. Gelberman was the Chair. I worked with Dr. Martin Boyer while Dr. Charles Goldfarb was a resident on the service. I still remember the morning anatomy sessions and the detailed reviews of the bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves which truly sparked my interest in hand surgery.

What brought you to Washington University Orthopedics?

Originally, I came to St. Louis as a medical student in 1997. When I left to pursue training as a resident in 2001, I did not think that I would return. However, near the end of my residency I was fortunate enough to get a call asking if I would be interested in interviewing for a faculty position in the division of hand surgery. It was truly the best academic hand surgery job in the nation and I eagerly pursued it. Fortunately, I was hired and I have been here now for approximately 15 years since 2008.

What aspect of your practice do you find most interesting or rewarding?

I find two parts of my job to be the most rewarding. The first is being able to care for patients and watch them improve after surgery. Seeing happy patients get back to the activities they love in life after treatment is great. The second part is watching the young physicians in training gain skills and then graduate moving on to do great things themselves in orthopedics and hand surgery. It is such a pleasure to contribute to their education.

Was there a past patient who made a lasting impact on you?

I would say that in general, I am always impressed by the farmers that I treat. I can think of so many that work incredibly hard and are so resilient when it comes to hand conditions and injuries. Whether recovering from cut tendons, arthritis surgery, or severe traumas, it seems like nothing slows them down. I still remember my patient who lost his hand in a severe machinery-related injury, who followed up in clinic with a bunch of peaches he had picked and a prosthesis that was in his words, “just a little banged up as expected since I was using it to work on my mower."

Anything new on the horizon for upper extremity care?

Our field is always advancing. My partners are involved with cutting-edge trials on nerve repairs after injuries. I have participated in our trial on alternative ways to suspend the thumb when doing thumb arthritis surgery. Overall, I think that it is always exciting to see what continues to improve each year.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

Outside of work I really enjoyed exercising. For me, this is mainly a combination of running, playing tennis matches, and weightlifting. It just helps keep me energetic and feeling focused. On the relaxing side of things I also really enjoy Formula 1 racing.

Learn why patient's choose Washington University Orthopedicsrequest an appointment online or call (314) 514-3500.

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