Dr. Richard J. Smith
25th Annual Richard J. Smith Residents/Fellows Conference
May 30, 2014 - Massachusetts General Hospital
Smith Day is in honor of Dr. Richard J. Smith, MD, who served as the Chief of the Hand and Upper Extremity Service from 1972 until 1987. Smith Day is a time for hand surgeons to present their original research and discuss this research with their peers. Dr. Smith was devoted to education, the pursuit of excellence and the advancement of the specialty of hand surgery, and Smith Day commemorates his legacy.
About Richard J. Smith, MD
Richard J. Smith, M.D. was an extraordinary individual and one who will not be easily replaced. Henry Mankin, MD, in writing Richard Smith’s obituary in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in 1987, stated so eloquently, “his capacities, talents, and commitment made him, in the eyes of man, our finest flower and the thirty years he gave to hand surgery, one of its finest periods.”
Dr. Smith was born in the Bronx, New York, attending the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. He received his college education at Brown University, graduating in 1951. His medical education was obtained at New York Medical College, where he was elected to AOA and graduated in 1955. Following a surgical internship at Bellevue Hospital, Richard began his Orthopaedic surgical training at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City, completing the program in 1960. During his training at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, he became a disciple of Emmanuel Kaplan, M.D., a then leading authority in anatomy of the hand and became determined to pursue a career in the relatively new field of hand surgery.
Following a two-year obligation to the Public Health Service in Boston, Richard Smith spent a year of Hand Fellowship, divided between Mr. Guy Pulvertaft in Darby, England and Dr. Joseph Boyes in Los Angeles, California. In 1963, Dr. Smith returned to the Hospital for Joint Diseases to join Dr. Kaplan and later in 1968 to succeed him as the Director of the Hand Service. During this time, he began to quickly establish himself as an outstanding clinician, surgeon, and most of all, educator.
In 1972, Richard moved to Boston along with Henry Mankin, M.D. to become the Chief of the Orthopaedic Hand Service at the Massachusetts General Hospital and, in 1980, was named Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School. During his tenure at the MGH, which ended tragically with his untimely death in 1987, he expanded his activities in hand surgery to an international level and in 1982 served as President of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Despite all his commitments, he somehow found the time to be a devoted husband to his wife Jane and a devoted father to his daughters Lisa and Tracey, and late son James.
For all who had the unique good fortune to have known Dr. Richard Smith, studied under him, or worked with him in any capacity, what will endure most of all was his remarkable skill and devotion to education, the pursuit of excellence, and the advancement of the specialty of hand surgery.
Dr. Thomas J. Fischer
2014 Richard J. Smith Memorial Lecturer:
Thomas J. Fischer, MD
Thomas J. Fischer, M.D. graduated from Butler University, earned his MD from the Indiana University School of Medicine and completed his Orthopaedic training at the University of Washington in Seattle. After his hand fellowship at the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center, he requested an additional six months of microvascular surgery training at Duke University and six months of hand education at multiple centers in Switzerland and Germany.
Dr. Fischer is an avid educator, with a primary focus on skeletal fixation. Residents from the Indiana University Department of Orthopaedic Surgery rotate with Dr. Fischer for their hand surgery exposure for the last 25 years. In addition, he is an active and highly visible part of our fellowship training program. He has been Chairman of various hand and wrist AO advanced courses both in North American and Europe.
In addition to publications in scientific journals and presentations before physicians, Dr. Fischer has been recognized for his written and spoken contributions to industry, insurance company and safety organizations alike.
Currently, Dr. Fischer is the Department Chairman of Hand Surgery at St. Vincent Hospital and Health Services, a Trustee Board member at Butler University and chairs the Academic Standard Committee for the University. Dr. Fischer serves on numerous committees such as the North American Hand Education Committee starting in February of 2008, the American Orthopaedic faculty member starting in April of 1990 and the Hand Expert Group starting in January of 2005.
Dr. Fischer and his wife, Maribeth have four children who are their pride and joy. He loves spending time with them watching Butler sports, camping, hiking, fishing and his most favorite, bike riding. Along with those activities, Dr. Fischer is an avid photographer.
He sees patients in Indianapolis and keeps a satellite office in his hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana.