One of the first things I do, after I check into the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Annual Meeting, is to find and sign up for the following year's hotels, as there is a strong belief in the future value of the event vis-a-vis the organization itself. It was surreal doing this at the 2021 AAOS Annual Meeting in San Diego, as we — as an organization — had not met in person since March 2019 in Las Vegas. We waited 18 months to gather again.
There was excitement and the joy of seeing friends. Soon after I’d secured my hotel for Chicago in 2022, my good friend Dino Damalas, COO of the AAOS, walked up. We heartily embraced in a safe way for the pandemic. The crowds were less than usual, given a third mild surge in America. The meeting was planned for safety, and I had to provide proof of vaccination to enter the Convention Center spaces. Masking was utilized inside. None of this seemed to dampen the enthusiasm for the moment of the Annual Meeting.
The Academy meeting is a great event, which allows the participants to learn and teach. There is so much scholarship that occurs, and this meeting was no different. Some participants could not attend due to last-minute changes in travel advisories by institutions, but the AAOS was nimble and pivoted without difficulty. Some of the lecture halls were less full, but the presenters of podium and poster as well as symposia and instructional courses were not deterred. Excellent speakers abounded as acceptance of scholarly activity to this meeting is hard-earned.
Each Academy meeting has its own flavor, which is partially created by the host city. San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter are easily walkable. During a night at dinner, you can bump into academics, AAOS Presidential Line leaders, and old residency buddies. Beyond this, the special relationship of industry to orthopaedic surgeons has provided much innovation in our medical discipline. It is commonplace to see many old friends of the industry and enjoy each other’s company.
During each day, there was a combination of academic pursuits, Academy committee meetings that accomplish the business of this volunteer organization, and discussions with industry partners in the exhibition halls to understand developments in the products that help us care for our patients. It is dizzying at times as there is much to do day and night. I had a bit of the fear of missing out as there are a multitude of rooms where something is happening. I felt that this meeting was a nice way to ease back into the work we must accomplish for our patients and this organization.
I was encouraged by so many things. I was buoyed by the support of residents via mentoring opportunities. I feel we have made great strides in the attention to increasing the numbers of women and other under-represented groups in Orthopaedic Surgery. I also met new industry partners with exciting and innovative products. This meeting was a hopeful start for our next years.
Dr. Navarro is employed by SCPMG