Physician Profile: Dr. Richard Milford, The Center for Joint Surgery & Sports Medicine
The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics is the largest private provider of orthopaedic care in the country – and we’re growing! At our Center for Joint Surgery and Sports Medicine care center, we recently hired three new physicians. We’ve already introduced you to Dr. Thomas Amalfitano and Dr. Michael Stowell. Here, we are proud to introduce you to their colleague, Dr. Richard S. Milford, a hand and upper extremity surgeon at the care center. We spoke with him about his specialization and training, his experience providing care in underserved regions, his thoughts about the future and more:
What made you choose to specialize in hand surgery?
Many young physicians are inspired by doctors and professors that they are exposed to during their education, which is exactly what happened to me. I met bright, talented and enthusiastic hand surgeons while I was in medical school and during my rotations, and decided to follow in their footsteps.
However, my advisor in medical school, who was randomly assigned to me, was a renal pathologist who treated the kidneys. I remember observing a kidney biopsy procedure when I was in medical school, and even though it was simply a needle extracting a tissue sample, it was the most major surgery I had seen at the time. After that experience, I considered pursuing renal pathology but I later had an orthopaedic rotation and I was brought back to my initial interest in orthopaedics.
When I was younger, I really only remember my experiences seeing orthopaedic doctors, so I used to think that was the only path for a doctor to take. I broke my arm four times and also broke my collarbone and some fingers, so I spent a lot of time with my orthopaedic doctor. When it came time to start thinking about medical school and the type of doctor I wanted to become, my first choice was orthopaedics because of those experiences.
My specialty in hand surgery has expanded to focus on the upper extremity. I treat the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder, but I am most interested in the complex anatomy of the hand and treating conditions and injuries in the hand.
What are some of the most common injuries that you treat in the hand and upper extremity?
One of the most common conditions I treat is carpal tunnel. In fact, rarely does a day go by that I don’t see a carpal tunnel patient. I also commonly treat trigger fingers, ganglion cysts and arthritis of the thumb, as well as other upper extremity issues in the shoulder. However, I do see a wide variety of patients with differing needs.
Do you have any specific interests within your specialty?
There is a lot we don’t know about the wrist, which really intrigues me. We are continuing to learn more about the small bones within the joint, how they are all connected and the ways the bones work together, which isn’t something we always understood in the past. I do see wrist patients but this is an area that we need to study more, and I’m very interested in the joint.
Tell us about your experience working at the local trauma center.
Along with my colleagues, Dr. Amalfitano and Dr. Stowell, I provide orthopaedic care at the Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, which is a level three trauma center in our community anchored by the University of Maryland Medical System. We are equipped to treat many trauma injuries onsite at the community hospital. We are fortunate to have access to skilled physicians in one of the top medical systems in the country through the University of Maryland Medical System, and can make referrals for additional specialty care as needed. We see a lot of fractures and other emergency treatments, and working at the center keeps us on our toes.
I enjoy treating trauma patients and find that type of work very rewarding. In fact, I traveled to Haiti a week after the earthquake to volunteer and treat patients. During my week-long visit, I mostly saw general orthopaedic cases but did see some hand cases as well. A lot of the trauma we saw as a result of the earthquake was different than what we typically see back home due to the nature of the trauma.
The trip was coordinated by a church that already had a health clinic in the area to provide basic medical care, and we set up what looked like a mini orthopaedic specialty clinic there. We brought in medical supplies and equipment through an airlift that the community still has access to at the clinic today. It was such a great experience both for me as a physician, and for patients in underserved areas to have access to quality care during such a difficult time. I would like to continue providing this type of care to patients in underserved areas and am looking for opportunities to continue to do so through the American Association for Hand Surgery’s outreach program.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in private practice?
Even when I first started my career, I was drawn to private practice employment. The private practice model of care gives physicians and their team the ability to direct the patient and to make independent decisions on their behalf, which I believe is the best way to provide care.
What has been your experience over the last few months as you’ve transitioned to The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics?
It has been a great experience thus far. Of course with any transition, there is always some confusion and catching up to do, but it has been a smooth process and I’m enjoying this new experience.
What do you see as the future of hand surgery?
Like I said, there is still so much we don’t know about the wrist and wrist surgery. I also expect that we will make strides in caring for tendons and tendon tears. We are learning so much, and I think as technology continues to advance, there are a lot of improvements we can anticipate – and a lot we won’t be able to anticipate!
Is there anything else about yourself that you’d like us to know?
I’m New York born and raised!
Dr. Richard Milford was raised and educated in New York City. He attended Columbia University, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and was an orthopaedic resident at Albert Einstein Hospital. He spent a fellowship year studying and performing hand surgery in a program affiliated with the University of Connecticut and Yale University. He treats a variety of hand and upper extremity patients. He is board certified in orthopaedics and in the subspecialty of hand surgery with a Certificate of Added Qualifications – Hand.