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Profile: Crash test doctor

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 01 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:030364
  1. Clare Hughes, fourth year medical student1
  1. 1Guy's, King's, and St Thomas's Medical School, London

What have simulated car crashes got to do with orthopaedics? Clare Hughes talks to Jane Madeley to find out more

Imagine amputating a cadaveric limb or dissecting a joint so that it can be pushed to the limit of its mechanical strength by being crushed in a car crash. This type of work is typical for Jane Madeley, a research registrar at a biomechanics and automobile safety laboratory in the United States.

A team of engineers at the University of Virginia uses Jane's surgical skills and medical knowledge to help them simulate vehicle incidents so that they can improve car design and safety. She hopes that her work at the laboratory will help her to become one of Britain's few female orthopaedic surgeons.

Jane's aspiration to become an orthopaedic surgeon is a far cry from her original motivation for studying medicine--reading a book about forensic pathology. She explains: “After starting medicine I realised there was so much I could do but I didn't think I'd end up doing surgery. But when I got into an orthopaedic theatre I was absolutely fascinated and I wanted to do orthopaedics from then on.

“Forensic pathology would have been interesting but I'd much rather …

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