Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life. We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare, how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future. This award is our way of recognizing that courage.
We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:
Russell was part of the “Katrina Class;” he was a 1st year medical student during Hurricane Katrina, one of the nation’s biggest natural disasters. His class was torn apart and sent around the state unclear of what would become of the school and their medical careers.
Russell was part of a unique class who formed a strong bond given the disaster and was able to finish the year in another city, then triumphantly return to New Orleans the next year to continue their medical education. Clinics were set up in old department stores ruined by the flood. The first floors of all the medical education buildings were not reopened for years, but the medical school thrived anyway in the post-Katrina New Orleans, and they thrived because of people like Russell, who despite losing 25% of their classmates to other schools and family displacement issues, kept the closely knit medical students together to complete their year without an issue.
Cadaver labs became animal labs at the vet school in Baton Rouge. Housing was a run-down Finnish cruise ship that was sailed over to settle in the Mississippi river for all the students to have a place to stay. Yet with all this, the medical students of LSU-New Orleans ’09, anchored by Russell Russo, never missed a beat and graduated an incredible class of physicians, with a high number staying close to home in Louisiana.
The orthopedic surgery program at LSU-New Orleans is “the right fit” for Russell because, like medical school, it is the closest knit group of residents in the country. Given the high number of athletes who become orthopedic surgeons, it is not surprising to see such a great team mentality in this residency program.
Russell is a positive, upbeat person who keeps this team of residents working for a common goal and enjoying every minute of it. Residency can be a stressful, difficult, and emotionally draining experience, but having seen this group of residents, you would think they are having the time of their lives. Russell fits right in with this team of smart, young, eager residents who manage to enjoy every minute of residency while continuing to pump out important research and thrive in a clinical setting as highly well-respected residents.
Russell has always had a deep interest with both science and sports, the reason he went into orthopedic surgery. His goal has been to build a career which allows him to care for his fellow athletic enthusiasts, in particular, high school athletes. As a high school athlete, he sustained a serious season ending injury that led him to see an orthopedic surgeon, and it has been his goal since to engage in that career path.
Caring for high school athletes allows him to help those young student athletes who may not go pro in sports but use the discipline and teamwork earned in playing for their endeavors later in life. He also strongly believes in the importance of protecting student athletes from injuries such as concussions that can have a profound impact on the rest of their lives. This as well as other reasons is why he has begun to build a career in medicine.
One large sacrifice Russell made, came during his first few years of medical school. Sadly after 3 years of helping care for his ailing mother, she passed away from metastatic cancer. Throughout his first few years of medical school, he spent many days in the chemo infusion center studying for medical school tests and chatting with his mom as she received chemo. He did his best to keep her upbeat throughout the tough time, but he knew what Stage 4 cancer meant; although, always praying for a miracle.
While most medical students had their special spot in the library or the local coffee shop, he had his spot in the corner chemo infusion chair where there was an extra socket for his laptop. With 2 younger siblings to keep upbeat as well, Russell had his work cut out for him. Despite the challenges and sacrifices that had to be made, Russell thrived and was awarded AOA status his 4th year and was accepted to his #1 choice in the match for orthopedic surgery.
Vote for Russell here.
If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.