September 9, 2019

Craniofacial Surgery Fellowship Reflection

Dr. Raquel Ulma reflects on her experience in the Craniofacial Surgery Fellowship.

Department of Surgery News
Plastic Surgery team members

Craniofacial Surgery at Michigan Medicine

Coming to the University of Michigan for the prestigious Craniofacial Surgery Fellowship was the most important move of my academic career. Within the span of a one-year fellowship, I participated in the care and treatment planning of hundreds of patients. I learned new techniques and honed my surgical skills in complex craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery, while developing life-long mentorships.

The University of Michigan Craniofacial Surgery Fellowship is one of the few ACGME-accredited craniofacial fellowships in the United States. It offers an impressive teaching curriculum and extensive clinical experience in cleft and craniofacial surgery. The fellowship is embedded within the University of Michigan Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, one of the top plastic surgery programs in the United States.

Fellowship Impact

I worked with world class craniofacial and pediatric plastics faculty, that are dedicated to trainee development. Their one-on-one mentorship has been instrumental for achieving my academic and career goals. I also developed working relationships with our colleagues in Neurosurgery, with bi-monthly combined clinics with Pediatric Neurosurgery and Plastics. I worked closely with our Orthodontic faculty and their Craniofacial Orthodontics Fellow for the treatment planning of complex cases. Our fellows also participate in the Cephalometrics course, in conjunction with the University of Michigan Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry residents.

The University of Michigan Craniofacial Anomalies Program exposed me to a variety of craniofacial conditions with interesting pathology. Fellows also participate in the Cleft Team and Vascular Anomalies multidisciplinary conferences. We performed an impressive number of intracranial cases, including fronto-orbital advancements, cranial vault reshaping and hypertelorism correction, distraction osteogenesis and complex facial trauma. This program is one of the few in the nation that offers orthognathic surgery in cleft and craniofacial patients. A full dental lab is available to fellows for setting up orthognathic cases and fabrication of dental splints. The skills developed from orthognathic model surgery easily translate into model-based planning for otherwise difficult mandibular and panfacial trauma.

Craniofacial Fellowship team

Our sheer volume of cases, extensive clinical data and multidisciplinary collaboration allows our craniofacial team to lead numerous clinical research projects. We developed surgical techniques that resulted in manuscripts and presentations at national and international meetings.

I am grateful to have been a part of the University of Michigan Craniofacial Surgery family. This training was truly the capstone to my training in Plastic Surgery. I will continue to draw from the rigorous clinical instruction and close faculty mentorship I experienced at the University of Michigan. I would highly recommend this prestigious program to all aspiring fellows desiring the best craniofacial training available. I am happy to further discuss my experience with any future applicants.

By Raquel Ulma, MD