Today's News

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Weinstein pledges: "Nothing about you without you."

By Mary Ann Porucznik

Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, became the 72nd president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons on Friday. Richard F. Kyle, MD, assumed the position of first vice president, and James H. Beaty, MD, was elected second vice president.

In his address to the fellowship, Dr. Weinstein recalled an incident that occurred when he was elected second vice president. "A member I hadn't met before approached me. What he said resonated with what I already knew about the importance of the office. He said, 'Don't forget about me.'"

Not only has Dr. Weinstein not forgotten the incident or the member, he has adapted the message as his theme for the year. Nothing about you, without you, is, he said, both a commitment and a call to action.

"For the coming year, as your president, I am committed to building upon the existing strengths of our organization. By redoubling our efforts to meet your needs, we will continue to set the pace for other societies in other specialty disciplines.

"This year I will be asking you to work with me, and with the Academy, to create a culture of patient-centered care-in our organization and in our individual practices," said Dr. Weinstein. "Nothing about you, without you reflects the dual nature of this responsibility: the responsibility that the Board and I have to you as leaders of the Academy, and the responsibilities we collectively bear as a profession to our patients."

AAOS a model for others
Dr. Weinstein recalled his experiences with other groups and coalitions, noting that the Academy frequently served as a role model for other medical societies.

"Other organizations admire the breadth and depth of our member commitment, involvement and leadership; our staff dedication and commitment; and the actual tangible value that members derive from their dues," he said. "Our goal, through continually assessing your needs, is to ensure that we maintain our leadership in member benefits and organizational pre-eminence in the medical community.

To accomplish this goal, Dr. Weinstein encouraged his fellow surgeons to express their views through state orthopaedic societies, the Board of Councilors representatives and specialty society leadership. He pointed to the recent member needs assessment survey, which "will serve as the basis and framework for our strategic planning process that will chart the course of the Academy for the end of the decade."

Dr. Weinstein addressed the issue of specialization, saying that it offers unique opportunities, provided that it is not accompanied by "parochial thinking." He encouraged the development of partnerships with specialty societies, saying, they would "bring synergy to our educational, advocacy, and communication efforts, as well as eliminate needless and expensive duplications."

Physician competence
A better-educated public and a focus on medical errors and accidents are fueling the move toward quality assessments, including physician performance. Dr. Weinstein noted that a recent Gallup Poll found that the public highly valued certification and maintenance of certification of physicians.

He assured members that the Academy will help them "meet the commitment to life-long learning and periodic self-assessment mandated by the Maintenance of Certification process…through a variety of programs and formats to suit every preferred learning style."

Dr. Weinstein also addressed the challenge of funding for musculoskeletal research. Working with the Bone and Joint Decade, the Academy is developing compelling burden-of-disease information to raise the profile of musculoskeletal conditions.

He paid homage to the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. "I cannot over-emphasize the importance of supporting OREF for the future of our specialty," he said, "While we all can't do research, we all can contribute to the future of our specialty by making an annual contribution."

He also pledged that the Academy would maintain its leadership role in advocacy. "The efforts and the political capital developed by the Academy over the last 25 years must be strengthened by developing a unified, specialty-wide advocacy agenda," he said.

Medical liability reform
"The current medical liability crisis is profoundly changing the landscape of American medicine and health care delivery by limiting patient access to care in a growing number of states," noted Dr. Weinstein.

Already, the AAOS has devoted financial resources and made a commitment to achieving meaningful federal medical liability reform and constitutionally sustainable state-level reform. "We will continue to help state orthopaedic societies in their quest to obtain meaningful and constitutionally sustainable medical liability reform during the next election cycle."

As the recently elected chairman of Doctors for Medical Liability (DMLR), Dr. Weinstein noted "that, through a coordinated effort by the member associations of DMLR, physicians have had a voice on behalf of their patients for the first time in American history." The DMLR is a coalition of medical specialty societies, representing more than 230,000 physicians.

"The next two years will be our window of opportunity to achieve federal medical liability reform, but we will have to mobilize considerable resources," he said, calling on the fellowship to contribute to this effort.

"My first-hand experience in fighting for medical liability reform these past two years has taught me the important lesson that even when we have the medical liability crisis behind us, we must develop a culture of yearly contribution to the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee."

Patient-centered care
Dr. Weinstein called attention to a "newly-evolving health care paradigm, patient-centered care," which he defined as "quality health care achieved through a partnership between informed and respected patients and their families, and a coordinated health care team."

Patient-centered care puts the patient in control, involves a free-flow of information, evidenced-based decision making and cooperation among physicians. Noting that it would require a cultural change within the Academy and in individual practices, Dr. Weinstein proposed that the result would be increased physician job satisfaction, decreased liability risk, increased patient satisfaction, better outcomes and lower health care costs.

"Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned over the years as a physician and as a member of this Academy is that success and accomplishment come only through partnership," concluded Dr. Weinstein. "We cannot be successful physicians unless our focus is on our patients, their needs and their wishes. We cannot be successful professionals unless our focus is on our mutual needs and development of our collective talents. I appreciate our past and present achievements and I promise to guide us as well as I can into our future success."

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