By Leanne Thomas, Tripler Army Medical CenterAugust 8, 2018
HONOLULU (August 9, 2018) - An advocate for education, a devoted volunteer, and a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Craig Bottoni, chief of Sports Medicine at Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC), is the Regional Health Command Pacific (RHC-P) category III employee of the year, and most recently named the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) employee of the year.
"Dr. Bottoni is a highly sought after orthopedic surgeon whose reputation enhances the reputation for Tripler and military medicine as a whole," stated retired Capt. Claude Anderson, former chief, TAMC Orthopedic Surgery Services. "He is world-renowned for his clinical expertise and surgical skills."
The journey to becoming an orthopedic surgeon for Dr. Bottoni started at TAMC in 1991 as a recently graduating medical student. During this time, he completed a general surgery internship and then, following a tour as a general medical officer, deployed to southwest Asia and entered Tripler's orthopedic surgery residency program. Dr. Bottoni also completed the John A. Feagin, Jr. Sports Medicine Fellowship at West Point, New York, and subsequently returned to Tripler as clinical staff.
From 2000-2006, while active duty, (then U.S. Army colonel select) Bottoni served as the chief of TAMC Sports Medicine before he entered into private practice. It was during this time that he realized the military health system is one of the last true practices of medicine where there is much less influenced by other factors, and where providers can focus solely on practicing medicine.
"I came back to Tripler for the opportunity to care for our military beneficiaries and their families. It is truly a unique opportunity," said Bottoni.
Today, as one of MEDCOM's most experienced sports medicine surgeons, Dr. Bottoni is also a consultant throughout the Pacific region for complex sports issues and the research director for the TAMC Orthopedic Residency Program responsible for coordinating and supervising all research projects within the TAMC Orthopedic Department.
Serving in this capacity, Dr. Bottoni represented Tripler as the chairman of the Medical Board of Trustees for the nonprofit organization, the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF). As part of his responsibilities, he served on the MTF Board of Directors contributing valuable insight of orthopedic surgery.
Dr. Bottoni's research project on shoulder injury was recognized as cutting-edge research in key areas of orthopedic sports medicine and selected for the 2018 American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine O'Donohue Award for Excellence in Clinical Research, the second time he has been chosen to receive this coveted honor.
His publication was selected in 2016 for the Hughston Award, the highest honor of the American Journal of Sports Medicine recognizing the most outstanding study published in the journal the previous year. He has previously received other prestigious research awards for projects completed at Tripler including the Excellence in Research Award, the Aircast Award for Clinical Science, and the Lloyd Taylor Award. In addition, he has won on multiple times, the Richardson Award for the best research presentation at the annual meeting of the Hawaii Orthopedic Association.
Dr. Bottoni expressed that he is deeply honored and humbled to receive the award, and described the profession of orthopedic surgery as an incredibly rewarding experience.
In recognition of the countless contributions and support to advance orthopedic sports medicine, Dr. Bottoni recently received the highest academic appointment, Professor of Surgery from F. E. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
Dr. Bottoni contributes the success of his accomplishments to his mentors from medical school, graduate medical education programs, and even to the TAMC residents and faculty, here.
"If you stop learning at any time, being a surgeon, or a doctor, that's when you are going to run into trouble," stated Bottoni.
Behind the scenes, Dr. Bottoni volunteers his time serving the military community beyond the walls of Tripler. He has also improved medical readiness and access-to-care initiatives for active duty populations and beneficiaries.
For over two decades, Dr. Bottoni has served as team physician for the Radford High School athletics program, a local high school with a majority of students being military dependents. This service provides timely access-to-care for the student-athletes, serving the local military community outside of Tripler.
He also established the satellite sports medicine clinics at Schofield Barracks and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This expansion resulted in 5,000 active duty encounters since its conception and significantly less time wasted for surgical appointments by eliminating the need for active duty members to come to Tripler for their appointments. The satellite clinics have also decreased utilization and resources at the TAMC Orthopedic Clinic, allowing better access for other providers during these times.
As the only federal tertiary care center in the Pacific region, TAMC offers Dr. Bottoni a unique role as the primary referral coordinator for all of sports medicine injuries that are referred through the Pacific Asynchronous Tele-Health (PATH) system, a provider-to-provider teleconsultation platform utilized by military medical facilities throughout the Pacific region.
Dr. Bottoni coordinates the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) air evacuation and referral for sports medicine services to TAMC Orthopedics through the use of the PATH system, resulting in significantly less money spent on multiple trips, lodging, and unnecessary care or treatments on Oahu. This initiative has increased the return-to-duty status for most active duty service members and other beneficiaries.
"A war injury or a sports injury can leave people in the lowest of lows. But we support them through the long process of diagnosis, surgery, and rehabilitation. Watching them get back to full active duty or sports is a truly unique aspect of our profession," he said.
Recently named the MEDCOM employee of the year, Dr. Bottoni was recognized by the entire Army Medicine family for his commitment to excellence as a civilian staff member in the Orthopedic Surgery Department, significantly impacting the region, as well as, the Army Medicine enterprise as a whole.