Introducing Christina A Kabbash
Christina A Kabbash is an orthopedic surgeon with specialization in foot and ankle surgery. Due to her expertise she is a medical member of the Lower Extremity Global Expert Commission and the Foot and Ankle Expert Group of the AO Technical Commission.
Christina was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1968, and grew up in Old Saybrook, a small costal town in Connecticut. After graduating from medical school at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, her initial plan was to join the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), travel the world, and fight tropical diseases. She pursued a Master of Public Health and a medical degree simultaneously at Columbia University. To acquire research experience, she also worked in a laboratory investigating possible cures for bacterial infections and became so captivated by the research that she enrolled in the school's MD/PhD program. Wearing a "spacesuit" while handling the life-threatening tuberculin bacteria, she and her colleagues discovered a drug that killed all the drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis tested in the laboratory by a different mechanism than existing antibiotics. However, they could not get the industry enthusiastic about the compound. Still, she ended up with a PhD in cellular, molecular, and biophysical studies at Columbia University, and having her name on three patents.
Christina met her first husband in college, and they married in 1991 during the summer between her first and second year of medical school. They decided to have children, which meant she would not be traveling around the world, nor living in foreign countries for long periods, nor studying tropical diseases. Instead during a third-year medical school rotation in orthopedics, she was fascinated with that specialty and switched tracks. She appreciated the variety of cases, the ability to fix a multitude of problems, improving patients' lives, and enjoyed all the equipment and tools available to accomplish this.
In 2007 she returned to Connecticut to join the Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center staff at Greater Hartford Orthopedic Group. She still managed to travel the world, working for a period in Dubai while her daughter was studying there, and teaching foot and ankle orthopedic courses in destinations as far as Australia. As a member of the AO Trauma Foot and Ankle Education Task Force from 2011 to 2014 she was developing and producing teaching materials for the AO Foot and Ankle Courses and served worldwide as international faculty for AO Foot and Ankle Master Courses. In 2018 she moved with her second husband to Naples in Florida and joined the Physicians Regional Medical Group. Here she found a better climate for her passion, which is swimming, biking, and running as an elite triathlete. She trains rigorously, averaging between 12 and 14 hours per week, and it would not surprise anyone knowing her that she has already run an early morning half marathon before she would start working in the clinic, teaching in an AO Course, or helping to develop new technologies in an AO Technical Commission Expert Group Meeting. She qualified for the nationals in the Olympic distance category in 2016 and has completed several Ironman races. No wonder she is also experienced in treating sports athletes, as she is familiar with their demands. One of the benefits of treating athletes is that they tend to be fairly compliant because they are motivated to get back to their sports. In fact, in her experience this applies to most orthopedic patients because they know what it is like to be injured and they would like to get back to their preinjury functional status.
Christina is not only drawn to foot and ankle surgery because of its intricate nature but also because of the variety of cases. Even when doing eight surgeries in a row, none is the same. She is also grateful that she can sit while performing surgery.
During her residency, she spent a year as the only woman after her fellow female students graduated. It was then that she learned the value of having female coworkers to simply “hang out” with. Without that, she was missing out on valuable information shared informally. You need people to talk to, to bounce ideas off and to discuss issues with, she would say, and it is really nice having other women in a similar field who understand what the problems are. Currently, there are not many women in a position like hers.