For most of his medical career, orthopedic surgeon Elliott Leitman has lived three existences—as a practicing physician, a medical consultant with amateur and professional sports teams, and as a medical officer in the military.
As a member of the medical staff at First State Orthopaedics for the past 11 years, he has “treated professional athletes, military service members and the good people of our community,” he says.
A graduate of Abington High School in Pennsylvania, Leitman received his bachelor’s degree from Boston University in 1988 before graduating from its school of medicine in 1992. “In general, one decides early on whether to be a surgeon or not to be a surgeon,” Leitman says. “I wanted the intellectual and physical challenges of being a surgeon because you use both your knowledge and physical expertise.”
The decision to specialize in orthopedics, he says, came because “you get to see immediate results, which is very rewarding.” Not to mention he’s a lifelong sports fan and, as a young doctor, soon discovered that sports teams need the resources.
Leitman served his internship and residency at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. In his online blog, he recalls his introduction into the world of sports medicine shortly after. “I was six weeks out from my orthopedic residency training when I got the call from my sports medicine fellowship director to meet him up at Lehigh University for the start of the Philadelphia Eagles training camp,” he writes. “As a lifelong Eagles fan who was only a mediocre high school football player, this was as close as I was going to get to the NFL.”
“As a lifelong Eagles fan who was only a mediocre high school football player, this was as close as I was going to get to the NFL.”
Since then, Leitman has served in medical roles at the World Maccabiah Games in Israel and with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Delaware 87ers of the NBA D League and teams at the University of Delaware. He currently works with Lincoln University.
During his military service, Leitman also found that wartime practice of medicine often provides improved medical results in peacetime. As an officer in the U.S. Army, he says, “I was at Walter Reed hospital during Desert Storm in 2003, and we were treating trauma patients for soft-tissue injuries and fractures with new methods, including the use of negative pressure. …When I returned to my own practice and to ChristianaCare, we didn’t have some of the required trauma medical equipment, so I had to order them.”
Currently, Leitman serves as chief of medical staff of the 166th MDG Delaware Air National Guard, although he notes that his service time is up and that he might seek to enlist in one of the other service branches. Additionally, he says, he had a blood clot in his leg, “so I am now not deployable. I’ll have to figure out what I’m going to do next.” Whatever it is, count on it to be something beneficial for patients—and a new challenge for Leitman.