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Thoughts On The First AOSSM-AANA Joint Meeting

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And the AANA-AOSSM 2021 combined meeting is over!

This was a great and unique meeting for many reasons. First, this was a combined meeting of the AANA and AOSSM, rather than one or the other. Second, this was the first major in-person orthopaedic meeting since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, it took place in Nashville, Tennessee, a beautiful and unique place on its own.

This was the first combined meeting of the AANA and AOSSM, the two major societies in arthroscopy and sports medicine. Typically, I attend both meetings, so it was great to be able attend one meeting for both societies at the same time. There were numerous sessions that were phenomenal and many outstanding presentations that I could comment on. However, there was one session that definitely stood out: the AOSSM/AANA medical publishing reviewers’ workshop.

This was a meeting during which the editors and editorial board members met and exchanged ideas and thoughts on how we can improve the peer-review process. In plain words, the purpose of this meeting was to update our knowledge on new topics and new types of studies and to identify ways to provide constructive feedback to the authors. All good so far, with one key point… The two societies have two different journals that are “competing” each other on which one will attract the best papers. And here we are together, all major players of the American Journal of Sports Medicine and the Arthroscopy Journal with shared presentations and common goals. What a great example of sportsmanship!!

All of us in the same room with our minds focusing on how we can improve the published studies, how we can further advance orthopedic science, and what we can learn from each other. This workshop was a great victory for science and orthopaedics.

And that leads to the second point that makes this combined meeting unique. After such a long time, this was the first orthopaedic meeting that I attended in person for more than a year. As I was preparing to leave my room the first day, I went over my checklist: 1) Badge for the meeting, 2) Cellphone with the registration email and the meeting app downloaded, 3) Room keys, 4) Mask.

Arriving at the conference center, I was wondering how it would feel to be indoors with such a large crowd for a prolonged period. Most — if not all — of the participants in the conference center were fully vaccinated, so probably this was one of the safest places in Nashville. I must admit that it did feel awesome to be able to see my colleagues’ and friends’ faces, people smiling and reconnecting.  

As the conference evolved over the next days, everything felt that was back to normal. Of course, there were some virtual presentations from our friends and partners from across the world that could not physically be present in Nashville due to travel restrictions. But, hopefully, we are a step closer. We have a long way to go, and we need to be extremely careful, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The last point is more personal. I was born in Greece, and my brother and I are lucky enough that our parents are deep enthusiasts of the ancient Greek civilization and its ideals. And there is no greater symbol of the ancient Greek world than the Parthenon. I still remember as a child my first visit at the Acropolis in Athens and feeling overwhelmed with the magnificence of the monument. Time, though, has taken a toll on its condition and like many other people, I have always tried to imagine how the original monument looked. Luckily, 5,676 miles away from the original Parthenon in Athens lies the Parthenon in Nashville, TN — an exact replica. 

As I saw the monument in Nashville, I had the same feeling of awe. Moreover, this monument has the Parthenon marbles, which are sculptures considered an inseparable part of the temple that unfortunately do not exist anymore on the original Parthenon. In the pediments and metopes, Athena and Poseidon are arguing over who should win the favor of the Athenians; Zeus, Helios and the battle of the Gods, Titans and Giants was taking place in front of our eyes. It was a memorable experience to be able to see the monument as it was supposed to be, though saddened that the original Parthenon is not whole. In all, I am really looking forward for the next combined AOSSM-AANA meeting.

Dr. Paschos is an Associate Editor for the Arthroscopy Journal.

Illustration by April Brust

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