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UNC Department of Orthopaedic Surgery thanks Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Robert (“Bob”) Ostrum, MD, for his 10 years of faculty service and congratulates him on retiring from a 35+-year career in academic orthopaedics. Dr. Ostrum’s impact as a leader and educator was felt widely across UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health. Until his 2022 retirement, he most recently served as the Department’s Vice Chair of Inpatient Operations and the Orthopaedic Service Line Medical Director for UNC Hospitals.  

Over three+ decades, Dr. Ostrum enriched multiple institutions as an educator, teaching the fundamentals of musculoskeletal trauma and post-traumatic reconstruction to graduate (residents/fellows) and undergraduate (medical students) learners. At UNC Orthopaedics, he led creation of the Department’s “boot camp” that annually equips first-year residents with specialty-specific OR and clinical skills/techniques in their first week in training. Dr. Ostrum is credited with incorporating simulation (SIM) at UNC’s Orthopaedic Surgical Skills Lab as an essential means of procedural teaching in orthopaedics training. For his excellence in guiding learners toward skills mastery, senior residents named Dr. Ostrum as the Frank Wilson, MD Faculty Teaching Award recipient in 2014. 

Dr. Ostrum noted: “Being involved with resident education, selection, and training was the highlight of my long career. I was fortunate to do some important research which I was able to continue at UNC and had many publications.

My time as a service leader, although sometimes frustrating, was a great way for me to be involved in bettering the overall hospital system for our patients. Restarting and energizing the [SIM] lab to the juggernaut it is today for learning and simulation was a great thrill.” 

Esteemed as an expert in orthopaedic trauma, Dr. Ostrum impacted this area of his field both in teaching and research. Prior to UNC, he served as Orthopaedic Trauma Fellowship Director at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ (2007-2012). Over three decades, he taught Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) as chair of national educational courses sponsored by musculoskeletal medicine professional societies ( eg, OTA, AONA, AAOS) that guided residents and faculty through fast-response assessment, stabilization and management of musculoskeletal and other injury types. 

A leading clinical researcher, Dr. Ostrum built a strong scholarly portfolio of textbooks (Editor/Co-Editor), book chapters, journal articles, and scientific exhibits over his career. He presented worldwide on orthopaedic trauma-related topics ranging from procedural innovation to value-based practice to treating lower extremity complex cases. Funded by federal, industry, and orthopaedics-focused organizations, over his career, Dr. Ostrum led (PI/Co-PI) a range of comparative, true experimentation/cause-effect and cost-effectiveness studies on procedural approaches related to orthopaedic trauma. 

Dr. Ostrum reflects: “After 35 years of orthopaedic practice and 10 years at UNC, it’s strange to not have a schedule. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UNC, and it was a terrific way to end a long career.” 

Frank C. Wilson Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and UNC Orthopaedic Surgery Chair Dr. James (“Jim”) Sanders noted: “Dr. Ostrum retires after a distinguished career as a clinician, educator, and scholar. Internationally known for his orthopaedic trauma scholarship, he has led our students, residents and young faculty in developing their own careers and research. We wish him well in retirement.”