My experience as an AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation Fellow

Paula Sotelo from Chile on her AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation fellowship in Switzerland.

21 March 2007


In 2005, AOClinical Investigation and Documentation (AOCID) began a new program toallow young motivated surgeons to train and to gain experience in clinicalresearch. This program has become so popular that it is completely booked upuntil 2009.

Paula Sotelo from Chile recently moved to Switzerland for several months tocomplete an AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation Fellowship and in this piece she outlines the work sheundertook as well as how the whole experience affected her.

Paula surrounded by her AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation colleagues along with Theddy Slongo (top row, 2 from left) and Jim Kellam (top row, far right)

Paula Sotelo’s Fellowship experience

Being involved with a cost effectiveness project in my hospital in Chile in2002 was an eye opener for me. It acted as spur for me to learn techniques tomeasure more precisely exactly what we do in a clinical environment. 

When I first learned about the AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation Fellowship I knew straight away thatthis was what I had been looking for in order to fulfill my wish to know moreabout measurement and clinical studies in general.

I began my fellowship in December 2006 by participating on the Davoscourses. There I met leading orthopedic and trauma surgeons and learned a lot.I participated on the Minimally Invasive Surgery/Computer Aided Surgerycourse.

In January 2007, the period of learning with the AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation associates started inDübendorf, Zurich.

The friendly work environment and my colleagues’ willingness to share theirknowledge with me, despite their own heavy workloads, is what I will remembermost. I learned what is involved in developing an evidence based investigation,the different types of information required, the details needed to carry outhigh quality research, and the methodology of data search, storage, andcontrol.

I was involved in writing three papers based on the cost effectivenessreport I was part of in Chile. These three papers are all at an advanced stage.I also participated in the initial phase of the Proximal Femur NailAnti-rotation (PFNA) Spain project, by conducting literature research andcollaborating with Marta Marent-Huber on the PFNA project’s protocol. I alsoworked with Isabel Diterich in completing a pre-project questionnaire for spineresearch in Latin America.

The AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation Fellowship offers an introduction to the statistical software STATA for data managementand analysis under the guidance of Laurent Audigé. I learned about datamanagement and quality control, and was able to process data on scaphoidfractures that I had collected in my hospital back in Chile.

There were also many hours dedicated to literature research on health costs,cost effectiveness, and their application to trauma and orthopedics.

In summary, this has been a fruitful experience which enabled me to deepenmy research knowledge in a unique way. Besides this, I made new friends whowill not be soon forgotten. I am very thankful for this opportunity and expectto put what I learned into practice as soon as possible in Chile as well asthroughout Latin America.


Paula Sotelo, orthopedic and hand surgeon


AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation collaborators on Paula’s work


Laurent Audigé (AOCID Fellowship Coordinator):

Paula’s work entailed working on each of the four major AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation pillars ofstudy planning, data management and analysis, medical writing, and providingsupport to AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation . We enjoyed the collaboration with her very much.


Isabel Diterich:

Paula provided very valuable support while she was here and we are lookingforward to her continued input to AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation projects as a Chilean based medicaladvisor. It will give her the opportunity to put the tools she learnt with usto good use as well as being a boon to our work. Paula’s language skills alsoproved to be helpful in assisting me with some studies planned for LatinAmerica. On a personal level, her enthusiasm for work and life in Europe wasinfectious.

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