Interview: Dr. Stephen Halman, Division Head, Orthopaedic Surgery


March 20, 2019

Tell us a little about yourself!

I am the Division Head of Orthopaedic Surgery and I have been a surgeon at Humber River Hospital for 17 years. Over the years I have seen about 30,000 patients.

How would you explain your job to a friend?

In my clinical work, I am an orthopaedic surgeon operating mainly on shoulders, elbows, wrists. This includes Arthroscopy, a minimally-invasive approach where we use a tiny camera (an arthroscope) to repair the tissues in the joint, and also open procedures such as shoulder and elbow replacements.

As the Division Head of Orthopaedic Surgery, my role is to grow the Program and empower our 14 surgeons to pursue their clinical passions. Our surgeons are self-motivated, care deeply about their patients, and are courteous team players. This makes my job easy!

What is the best part about your work?

I love being in the operating room. Before medical school I was a mechanical engineer. I really enjoy that orthopaedic surgery allows me to exercise spatial awareness and problem solving in a controlled environment.

What are the most interesting technologies at Humber?

As a mechanical engineer, I appreciate technology as an icon of human ingenuity. But at Humber River Hospital, I believe our most important resource is the people who have creativity, drive, intelligence and human touch. In the operating room environment, I admire the clerical staff who do this daily, by answering phones, booking cases, managing the list, phoning the inpatient units, and putting the surgeons in their place. No machine learning can supplant that talent.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the determination and gratitude that many of my patients show throughout their surgical journey. It’s very rewarding to work with people like that.

(In a funny way, it reminds me of my goldendoodle. No matter how he is feeling, he is so determined to do his responsibility of always welcoming people to our home. He is stubborn and has an attitude, but he also shows us unconditional love.)

I also like listening to a spectrum of podcasts. One that has really stood out to me is Radical Candor, which has inspired me to be a better colleague by Challenging Directly and Caring Personally (saying what I think while also sincerely caring about the person).

What is one awesome thing you’ve done in the last year?

Every two years I participate in a charity bike ride in Israel, and our next ride is coming up in April. We raise money so that children with cognitive and behavioral challenges can attend a summer camp, called Camp Ramah. Camp can be a great experience for children and provides a much-needed respite for parents. I am honoured that I can help make this possible for more families.