Dr. Jonathan Godin’s “Incredible” Journey at The Steadman Clinic – From Fellow to Staff Surgeon to Mentor
VAIL, CO – All of the surgeons, doctors, scientists, clinicians and researchers at The Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) have their own unique stories about their journeys to the renowned facilities in Vail.
Jonathan Godin, MBA, MD, is one of a handful of surgeons over the years who have returned to the Clinic in a full-time role after serving a year in Steadman’s highly respected fellowship program. What makes Dr. Godin’s rise from fellow to staff surgeon even more intriguing is the timing of his return to Vail.
The list of current surgeons at The Steadman Clinic who previously spent time as fellows there includes Dr. Randy Viola, Dr. Peter Millett, Dr. Tommy Haytmanek, Dr. Jared Lee, Dr. Joseph Ruzbarsky and Dr. John Peloza, who actually served his fellowship for the Clinic and Institute’s founder—Dr. J. Richard Steadman—in Lake Tahoe, before Dr. Steadman moved his practice to Vail.
Dr. Godin, whose primary focus is treating knees, shoulders and hips in the Vail, Frisco and Aspen clinics, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University with a BA in neuroscience and a minor in entrepreneurship and management. He attended the University of Michigan Medical School as a Dean’s Merit Scholar, where he graduated with honors. While in medical school, he also completed a Masters of Business Administration degree with a focus on healthcare management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Godin completed his residency at Duke University Medical Center, where he provided physician coverage for Hillside High School, North Carolina Central University and most of Duke’s varsity athletic teams, including the men’s football, basketball and lacrosse teams.
That strong education and training led Dr. Godin to the fellowship at SPRI and The Steadman Clinic and introduced him to many of the surgeons with whom he now collaborates. He joined the Steadman staff in the fall of 2019 and was just getting acclimated when the pandemic made its sudden impact on the world. How did Dr. Godin respond to the crisis that COVID-19 posed?
“It was challenging in the sense that I started just a few months prior to the onset of COVID,” said Dr. Godin, “and it definitely had some pros and cons with my practice. With the mountains opening that fall and winter, my practice was really taking off and I felt like my legs were taken out from under me in March (when the pandemic started). We’re fortunate to live in a place (the Vail Valley) that has overall a quite healthy population. Everywhere around the country elective procedures were put on hold but we were able to get back into it and catch up with everything in a more reasonable timeframe.
“We were also fortunate because a lot of people who lived in cities in other parts of the country also had second homes in our area,” continued Godin. “And some others moved here to find a healthier and less congested area in which to live.”
While the pandemic was dangerous and damaging in so many ways, Dr. Godin did find some positives that came out of it. “I would say that one of the silver linings for me has been the rise in telehealth. The pandemic has really pushed it to the forefront, and I have embraced it. In my clinic a couple of days ago, I did telehealth visits with people from Alaska, Maine and Oregon. I think that our touchpoints and accessibility to people has never been better. It’s helped me grow my practice.”
Despite the pandemic and the complications and challenges that it provided, Dr. Godin feels good about his first two years back at The Steadman Clinic and SPRI.
“It’s been nothing short of incredible. A little bit surreal coming back. You can’t help but be a little bit starry-eyed coming back,” expressed Dr. Godin. “Having the partners I have, who are legends in the field, is a blessing. I am in a unique position because I aspire to be one of them, and if I have a difficult case, I know I have a handful of people I can immediately turn to. At the same time, as one of the faculty members for the fellowship, I am a mentor for some of our trainees who are going to be the best and brightest of the next generation as well.”
Looking ahead as the world slowly attempts to navigate its way out of the pandemic, Dr. Godin is focusing on taking advantage of being at The Steadman Clinic with the tools of SPRI in the very same building.
“I am really trying to have that triple-pronged approach of clinical practice, teaching and research. I think last year was so productive working with some of the fellows on a range of projects from clinic-based to regenerative medicine to bioengineering. That’s what I’d like to do moving forward and maintain those three aspects of my career here.”
The research part of that three-pronged approach is perhaps the most intriguing to Dr. Godin.
“Trying to integrate and translate that research, working with the scientists here including (Dr.) Johnny (Huard) and our trainees, is one of the more exciting aspects of my role at Steadman,” said Dr. Godin. “It’s challenging and very time-consuming but is so valuable. “You have all that and you balance a young family at the same time,” continued Dr. Godin. He and his wife, also a physician, have two young children, including one born this summer. “You have a lot of balls in the air, and sometimes you feel like you are dropping them. In the end, I’m just trying to do the best I can to represent the people that trained me at this institution where I hold everyone in the highest regard.”