The chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso recently stepped into a leadership role with a national orthopaedic oncology organization.
Rajiv Rajani, M.D., an associate professor with the Foster School of Medicine and board certified orthopaedic surgeon at Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, was named treasurer for the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society during its annual meeting in Baltimore in October. This puts him on the path to be president of an organization that helps shape national policy-making for orthopaedic oncology services and addresses the needs of orthopaedic oncologists and their patients.
As treasurer, Dr. Rajani is in line to become president of the society within the next three years. The entire leadership track is a six-year commitment. In his position on the board, Dr. Rajani plans to represent the needs of Borderland patients and reduce health care disparities in low-income communities by pushing for high-level care while keeping costs down.
“I have found myself in the type of situation I’ve always strived for: How do you make the most impact in other people’s lives? This is a blessed opportunity to do that,” Dr. Rajani said. “Humbled feels like an overused word, but this is absolutely a humbling opportunity.”
Orthopaedic oncology focuses on the treatment of tumors and cancers that affect the bones, cartilage, fibrous tissues, muscles and related tissues. Dr. Rajani’s expertise includes bone tumors, complex bone reconstruction and Ewing sarcoma, which is a cancer that typically occurs in and around the bones of children and young adults.
“When most people think of orthopaedic surgery, they don’t think about tumors and cancer, which are personal and emotional diseases,” Dr. Rajani said. “That’s what makes what we do so important.”
Dr. Rajani said he is proud to serve in multiple leadership roles with the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society. He hopes his presence raises the visibility of TTUHSC El Paso and helps attract highly skilled surgeons and students to the university to address the shortage of specialists across the borderplex region.
TTUHSC El Paso is the only health sciences center on the U.S.-Mexico border and serves 108 counties in West Texas that have been historically underserved. It is one of only two health sciences centers in the nation designated as Title V Hispanic-Serving Institutions, preparing the next generation of health care heroes, 48% of who identify as Hispanic.
In 2008, prior to the opening of the Foster School of Medicine, El Paso County’s average number of direct care physicians per 100,000 people was 75% less than the national average. Today, that shortage has been reduced to 60%, more than 10 years after the medical school’s opening.
TTP El Paso, the clinical practice of the Foster School of Medicine, provides more than $31 million of uncompensated care annually, ensuring all residents in the region have access to world-class patient care. Every year, physicians conduct more than 200,000 clinic visits for El Paso patients.