March 2002 AAOS Report

Dr. Vernon Tolo: 'AAOS must encourage young leaders, diversity'

Vernon T. Tolo, MD, who became AAOS president on Feb. 17, 2002, pledged to foster leadership skills among younger AAOS members and encourage diversity within orthopaedics and within the AAOS. Addressing attendees at the Annual Meeting in Dallas, Dr. Tolo said the Academy has established a formal Leadership Development Program. The mentoring program involves 15 orthopaedic surgeons under the age of 45 who will be selected annually to receive formal instruction, with a personal and active mentor, and assigned to committees or project teams. With regard to diversity, Dr. Tolo said, "The scarcity of women and minority medical students among those choosing orthopaedics as a career is disturbing. Only 7.5 percent of our current orthopaedic surgery residents are women, despite an annual increase in the number of women medical students. With other orthopaedic organizations, we need to explore innovative approaches, which may include changes in resident training and changing the way orthopaedic groups are organized to practice." He pledged an Academy presence at the minority medical student national meetings annually, and encouraged recruiting through sports contacts. Dr. Tolo also stressed the need for unity, despite the degrees of subspecialization within orthopaedics, and the honest differences of opinion among members on many issues. "There are problems to address: the rise in malpractice premiums, patient protections and access to specialty care, improved communication with our patients, elimination of future cuts in Medicare Part B reimbursements, patient safety and minimizing medical errors," he said. "We need to maintain a unified voice and a strong, vibrant national and international orthopaedic association to make our specialty voice a potent one." Dr. Tolo concluded by noting his own sense of pride with being an orthopaedic surgeon: "There is still much that is personally exciting and rewarding about having the opportunity to care for our orthopaedic patients," he said. "All of us are beneficiaries of the gratitude our patients have when we have had a major part in improving their quality of life."

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