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Patients can appreciate it if a doctor can feel their pain. As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Aaron Omotola can meet that qualification - especially for athletes. Dr. Omotola, 39, joined the staff of Alton Memorial Hospital as well as the BJC Medical Group on Aug. 15, 2010. He was a strong safety at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in the Chicago area when that team won the Illinois Class 6A football championship in 1994. Almost any student-athlete, even at that level, becomes familiar with the bumps and bruises that someone in orthopedics deals with all the time. "I have always had an interest in medicine," Dr. Omotola says. "My uncle is an orthopedic surgeon, and he inspired me to pursue orthopedics as a career. Orthopedic surgeons don't just treat patient issues, we resolve them. That is something unique and extremely rewarding about our field." Though he's originally from Chicago and has trained in Los Angeles and more recently in New Orleans, Dr. Omotola does have an area connection. He earned his medical degree at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. His local connection runs even deeper than that, if for only one day. The 1994 Homewood-Flossmoor football team that won the state championship defeated Alton High School in the first round of the Illinois High School Association playoffs. Dr. Omotola earned his undergraduate degree in Biology at Xavier University of Louisiana in 1999, spent two years of residency in Los Angeles after medical school and completed his orthopedic surgery training in New Orleans in 2009. He was one of the few orthopedic surgery residents in the country selected to participate in the Clinician Scientist Development Program sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), the Orthopedic Research and Education Foundation and the Orthopedic Research Society. He also represented the LSU Health Sciences Center at the American Orthopedic Association (AOA) Resident Leadership Forum. Dr. Omotola has been a member of the AOA Emerging Leaders Program since 2010 and is also involved in the Arthroscopic Association of North America as a master associate instructor and has served the AAOS as a member of the Annual Meeting Committee. As a former athlete, Dr. Omotola is getting involved with helping young athletes in the St. Louis metro area. He has become involved in the community volunteering as team physician for Alton, Civic Memorial, and Edwardsville High Schools, Lewis and Clark Community College and SIU Edwardsville. "I am holding a Saturday morning clinic during football season for area athletes to make it easier for them to get diagnosed and receive treatment," he says. "Student-athletes have full schedules, and sometimes it is difficult for parents to get their kids to the doctor during a busy workweek. I want to make myself as accessible as possible for those experiencing orthopedic issues." During a sports fellowship with the Ochsner Clinic Foundation Program in New Orleans, Dr. Omotola also had the opportunity to work with the New Orleans Hornets and the Superbowl Champion New Orleans Saints. "That was a great experience," he said. "Being on the sideline in the NFL was humbling. It was great to work with the players to treat their injuries and watch them get back out and play. We took care of the whole team, from Reggie Bush to Drew Brees." "I really enjoy teaching residents and medical students," he said. "I hope that I can inspire young athletes to strive for excellence in everything they do and maybe even pursue careers in medicine."