Interview with FAMI co-director Dr. Laitman

Interview with FAMI co-director Dr. Laitman

220px-Laitman_image_for_Leakey_LectjpegNow that the FAMI 2014 dates are out (December 18-21- registration opening soon!), we’re so excited to start indulging in our annual FAMI social media love fest! This year we’re kicking things off with an interview between FAMI co-directors Matt McCulloch & Dr. Jeffrey Laitman. We hope it sufficiently whets your appetite ūüôā Get excited!!

Matt McCulloch: What was it about teaching anatomy to future physicians or teaching anatomy in general that inspired you to choose it as a profession?

Dr. Jeffrey Laitman: Helping people in physical or emotional need – as physicians and health professionals do – is, in my belief, the highest calling.¬† By teaching these good folks anatomy I feel that I am “opening the door” to their understanding of the majesty of human form, and aiding them in beginning their journey.¬† I feel that I am doing my small part in helping people who will do the ultimate good.

MM: Anatomy can be very complicated and difficult to learn. What are some of your basic recommendations to students that will enable them to avoid becoming overwhelmed with the learning process?

JL: Enjoy the big picture rather than becoming mired in, and fearful of, all the minutiae.¬† One can never completely “know” anatomy as it spans from the gross (observable with the naked eye) through histology, to cell biology, and molecular biology.¬† Try to always frame what you wish to learn (say, the knee joint) and then gradually add that which you most need to know, little by little, from bones, to ligaments, to joints, muscles, nerves and so on.¬† You can’t know every piece, so try to prioritize, and focus on that which is of major importance rather then trying to “memorize” every little piece.¬† Unlike people, who are all created equally, body parts are not. They have a inherent hierarchy of importance, and you will need to learn how to learn if you will be most effective.¬† Most of all, never get “angry” at the material – or angry with yourself because you may not “remember it all.”¬† Always remember, when learning anatomy you are an explorer uncovering the most fascinating discovery of all time, the human body!

MM: This is the 8th year of FAMI. What is its value to you and what role do you think it plays in the educational process of the fitness professional?

JL: I adore FAMI and look forward to it every year.¬† For me, my greatest joy is sharing with my students, and FAMI affords me an opportunity to meet yearly a cohort of bright, inquisitive, and highly knowledgeable biomedical professionals.¬† I learn enormously from my FAMI students and hope that we are able to open for them a great appreciation, respect and love for human form that perhaps they did not have before.¬† My hope is that each one leaves with a “taste of the apple” and a passion to become a life-long student of the human body.

MM: What makes FAMI  such a unique experience?

JL: FAMI is unique on a number of fronts,¬† First, it is an extraordinary “team” approach to learning that brings together physicians of many specialties, anatomists, and a range of fitness professionals.¬† Second, our teaching is not on a “me-professor-you-lowly-student level” but rather among colleagues who each have expertise that they bring to the table.¬† While I may know some more of the secrets that lie within the body, my FAMI/fitness professional students are “front-liners” that see individuals on a daily basis with musculo-skeletal and other injuries, and have a huge depth of knowledge in this areas.¬† Third, the 4-day “immersion approach is extraordinary.¬† It is intense, exhilarating, challenging and fun all at once.¬† Our FAMI students and faculty all really love this,¬† Indeed, most don’t want to leave when it’s over!

MM: Do you have any advice for future FAMI students that will be enrolling in this years December course?

JL: First off, if you have never experienced New York around Holiday Time you are in for an unparalleled experience!¬† Christmas trees all decorated, shoppers shopping, silver bells ringing, and chestnuts (yes, we do have them) roasting on open fires!¬† It’s my favorite time of the year to be in the Big Apple.¬† So you will need to save a little time outside of FAMI.¬† For us, my advice would be prepare a bit if you can.¬† As Matt can tell you, we have developed a number of iPad Apps on the major joints that would be great for you to entertain before FAMI, use during FAMI, and revisit after FAMI.¬† Our team has created these and they are designed to mesh with, and reflect, what we teach.¬† Other than that, come rested, open-minded, and energetic! You will be in for a treat!

MM: What is your favorite anatomy structure and why?

JL: Now, Matt, that is an unfair question.¬† You might as well ask me which of my children is my favorite!¬† Having said that, there are some areas I am extra fascinated by.¬† I’ve worked on the Larynx – voice box – for 35 years and am always fascinated by how little we know about this extraordinary structure, how it changes from babies to adults, and all the problems that can occur if it isn’t working well (did you know that if your vocal cords weren’t working correctly you couldn’t lift a heavy object or have a bowel movement if you were constipated?).¬† And then there’s the foot! What a majestic, abused, under appreciated work of art (if you come, you’ll hear me talk on this over and over).¬† Oh, there’s the inner ear, with it’s internal gyroscopes that largely determine our balance (you probably thought balance was controlled solely by your muscles; think again!!).¬† Then there’s the incredible knee joint; and don’t forget the remarkable Eustachian tube that connects your nose and ear; or your incredible bony sinuses that occupy some of the major real-estate in your head and fill constantly‚ĶAh, so, so many wonderful and wondrous features of our anatomy!

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