Why I'm Optimistic About the Future of Orthopaedic Surgery

The annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is a prestigious forum for innovation, education, and advocacy in musculoskeletal healthcare. It is a time for orthopaedic surgeons to “reboot and refresh” their professional lives by convening with orthopaedic experts, colleagues, leaders in industry, and longtime friends. There are educational sessions, scientific symposia, and technical exhibits for the orthopaedic community as a whole, and also every subspecialty. While the sheer size (more than 30,000 attendees) and scope of activities (more than 300 hours of educational content) at the meeting can be overwhelming and disorienting, I found the 2019 meeting in Las Vegas to be particularly spectacular and meaningful as I enter my 30th year as an AAOS Fellow.

This month our AAOS leadership articulated an exciting new Strategic Plan for 2019-2023. The updated mission and vision statements resonate: serving our profession to provide the highest quality musculoskeletal care, and being the trusted leaders in advancing musculoskeletal health. The commitment of the AAOS to support and educate the orthopaedic workforce to provide the very best musculoskeletal healthcare to patients has made it the most respected professional society in the USA, if not the entire world (more than 39,000 members worldwide). The AAOS will equip its members to thrive in value-based environments and advance the quality of orthopaedic care. It will evolve the culture and governance of AAOS's board and volunteer structure to become more strategic, innovative, and diverse. And the AAOS will accomplish its strategic goals through advocacy, communication, partnerships, and technology. The successful implementation of the plan will promote the professional aspirations of every orthopaedic surgeon to provide the best evidence-based, high-value musculoskeletal healthcare for each and every patient. I am personally grateful to the countless AAOS members who have donated their wisdom, talent, and leadership skills to make all of us better for the benefit of our patients.

And for the first time since it was founded in 1932, the AAOS has a woman as President, Dr. Kristy L. Weber, MD, of Philadelphia. She is Professor and Chief of Orthopaedic Oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Her opening statement “I stand here today as a proud woman in a profession that is 94 percent male” drew a long standing ovation. She went on to remark “I ask all of us — myself included — to acknowledge our biases, appreciate a different point of view, lean into the discomfort of change, and let go of the stereotype of what orthopaedic culture has been.” Her speech was truly inspiring and motivational — the entire crowd in attendance embraced her enthusiastically with multiple rounds of applause. It is clear to me that the AAOS and its members are in great leadership hands with Dr. Weber at the helm. And frankly, she has made me far more optimistic about our future.

David E. Attarian, MD, FACS, FAOA, Professor and Executive Vice Chair, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University School of Medicine


Image by Jackie Niam / Shutterstock

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