Dr. Michael Ries is an orthopedic surgeon and director of arthroplasty fellowships at Reno Orthopedic Clinic. He received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from MIT, and his medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School, and has been in practice for more than 25 years.
Dr. Ries has a practice limited to hip and knee replacement surgery and the treatment of arthritic hip and knee conditions. He was on the full-time faculty at the University of California, San Francisco from 1997 to 2013, where he was Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Chief of Arthroplasty. During this time he also regularly participated in clinical and laboratory research. Dr. Ries has published 210 peer-reviewed journal articles and 52 book chapters on topics related to clinical outcomes and biomaterials used in hip and knee replacement.
What most sets D. Ries apart from his peer group is that he has helped develop various hip and knee replacements and is the inventor of 45 US patents for hip and knee replacement devices. He is also the father of three active children, the husband of a beautiful Russian wife, an avid skier, and a housekeeper.
Welcome Michael, and thank you for joining us today! Why don’t you start by telling our readers a little about your journey to becoming a published author?
I am an orthopedic surgeon and most of my career has been in academic medicine. That means I travel and speak at many medical conferences. The topics presented and discussed at these meetings address medical issues and generally do not include the newest hip and knee replacement inventions. For the past five or six years, it seems, some of the younger surgeons who attended these meetings asked me how to develop ideas for improving knee and hip replacement devices. When I answered these questions, I noticed that some of the non-medical people in the audience seemed very interested in the discussion, and I thought that perhaps others would be interested in reading a book about it.
What is it The joint kitchen about?
This book is a story about the origin of ideas for inventions. It describes how wonderfully efficient normal hip and knee joints really are, and why we can’t make hip and knee replacements as perfect as the normal joints we were born with.
Then a doctor who found himself simply cleaning the kitchen, preparing food, opening a bottle of wine, unscrewing the lid of a jar, riding a chairlift, fishing, skiing, or watching snowflakes fall, drew similar pictures on a piece of paper that became patents for new knee replacement models. History suggests that when our mind is in a state of peace and quiet, the creative and problem-solving parts of our brain can magically connect and create a new idea.
What inspired you to write? The joint kitchen?
I have helped develop various hip and knee replacement devices over the years. I didn’t really know why the ideas for these inventions popped into my head, but I did know exactly where I was and what I was doing when so many of them happened. It turned out that where he was and what he was doing were directly related to images that became new hip and knee replacement patents. I never really thought that anyone would be interested in this, but from time to time someone would ask me how I got all these ideas. When I responded with some simple examples, it seemed perfectly logical. I believe this process happens to all of us on various levels, and I hoped that writing about my story would inspire others to develop their ideas.
What a great title, obviously inspired by your revelations in the kitchen! How did everyday kitchen / food items spark your ideas and when did you realize that your kitchen was a source of inspiration?
I’m not a great cook, but I end up in the kitchen a lot, usually to make something quick and easy to eat for my kids or myself, usually in the morning. It is a time of peace and quiet, even if what you have to do that day is in the back of your mind. It seems that’s when the ideas come to him, when he’s not trying to come up with one.
The whole process of taking an ordinary orange and seeing its potential as part of a new hip replacement procedure, creating and developing the idea through drawings, etc., requires great artistic expression. Tell us a little about your artistic nature. Did you even consider yourself an artist?
I really admire and respect the artists. I don’t consider myself much of one, but I like to take photos especially of landscapes or nature more than of people. I have also attended many medical conferences, and when I see a slide full of words, my mind becomes glassy, but when I see a simple diagram or picture that makes sense, I understand. There are many images in The joint kitchen.
The subtitle of his book: “A Handbook for Orthopedic Inventors and Scary Cats Facing Knee or Hip Replacement” indicates that the information is ideal for physicians, inventors, and people in need of knee or hip replacement. How does your book address such different audiences?
The book is about how ideas for inventions can be created, but since it specifically describes medical devices, I think healthcare professionals in the orthopedic field would have a lot in common with the story. The joint kitchen It also shows how the normal hip and knee function, and the differences between normal joints and replaced joints. That’s something that anyone considering a joint replacement, and perhaps their friends and family, generally want to know. There is also a description of how our mind thinks by connecting pictures, which I think is similar to what scientists and academics studying the brain have discovered. I hope those smart people can also find The joint kitchen useful to better understand how we create ideas.
What was your biggest challenge when writing The joint kitchen?
Writing The joint kitchen It wasn’t too difficult, I just put pictures of what I normally do in the kitchen and the corresponding patent drawings side by side and they were pretty much the same. The biggest challenge was overcoming my fear that people would not like me. I guess most authors probably go through that, so for me the issue was whether or not to post it for everyone to see.
What do you like to do when you are not working, inventing new medical advances, and writing?
I really treasure every moment that I have with my family. We do a lot of things together, like skiing, walking, and spending time outside. Some of the best moments for us have been traveling in motorhomes to new destinations we have never been to before. My wife and kids also tolerate me going away for a week or so every year to go skiing, golfing, or fishing with my friends.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten about writing, inventing, or life in general?
When I’m not sure if an idea is worth pursuing, the best advice I’ve ever had is to go ahead and do it. That’s the only way you’ll find out.
What advice would you give aspiring authors and / or inventors?
For inventors, that is what the last two chapters of The joint kitchen they’re about to. Describe a way to see if your idea works, protect it, and turn it into reality. Many books have been written on the basics of how to file a patent and start a business or sell your idea, but mine is more of a story about discovering your own way forward.
For writers, I may not be the best at giving advice, as I’m relatively new to it. However, there is much in common with publishing and invention, and the same challenges that inventors face also happen to writers.
Whats Next? Do you have another project in process?
Not yet. I want to see how this one goes, so far it looks good, but I have some ideas about another book. Writing for me is kind of like having an idea for a new invention, you just have to let it happen. So we will have to wait and see.
Where can readers connect with you on social media to learn more about The joint kitchen?
I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and an easy way to get started is the author’s website www.michaelriesmd.com.
What kind of information is available on your website?
There is a description of the content in The joint kitchen with a little video showing what it’s all about. There is also information about me, links to my patents, and some recent book chapters and magazine articles that I have written.
Do you have anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Writing and publishing a book was never something I planned to do or on my wish list, but I’m glad I did. I have received a lot of nice comments from people who have read it and I highly recommend doing so to anyone who is thinking of telling their story to others.