The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery was founded in 1962 by J. William Hillman, MD, the department's first chairman. Prior to that time, it was a section of the General Surgery Department of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Following Dr. Hillman's death in 1970, Paul P. Griffin, MD chaired the Department for four years. Arthur Brooks, MD carried forth the spirit of Dr. Hillman and began a tradition of teaching and impassioned patient care until he was followed by Dan M. Spengler, MD in 1983. Dr. Spengler chaired the department until 2009. Herbert S. Schwartz, MD was named chairman in 2009. Dr. Schwartz served as chair for 10 years.
Rick W. Wright, MD became Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in 2019. There are currently 46 full-time orthopaedic, attending faculty positions in the department, 25 resident positions and eight orthopaedic fellowship positions. Ten orthopaedic surgeons from the Nashville area serve on the clinical faculty. Forty-five therapist providers complement the clinical enterprise in which approximately 110,000 outpatient visits are recorded and 11,500 surgical cases are performed annually. Additionally, the department remains committed to outstanding clinical and basic science research with several NIH funded researchers. Education is key to the department’s culture represented by a commitment to medical student, resident and fellow education.