AANA celebrates 25 years of progress

Past presidents to gather for silver anniversary

By Kathleen Misovic

Just 25 years ago, when arthroscopy was struggling to be recognized as a promising surgical discipline, a group of about 200 orthopaedic surgeons formed the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA). Today that organization has grown to more than 2,400 members and is the premier provider of hands-on Continuing Medical Education in arthroscopy.

AANA will celebrate its Silver Anniversary this year during its annual meeting, May 18-21 at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Fla. Many of AANA’s past presidents will be on hand to participate in the celebration, with the first president, John B. McGinty, MD, giving a retrospective during the general session. Reflections from other past presidents will be featured during a film presentation.

“We have been videotaping interviews with our past presidents for the last two years,” said Holly Albert, AANA director of meetings. “We plan to create vignettes of these interviews and show them at the meeting.”

Other anniversary festivities will include a presentation featuring photos from the past and present, and a gala dessert reception with dancing.

AANA — Then and now

AANA started out as the North American chapter of the International Arthroscopy Association. In 1981 it branched off from the international group to form its own association in response to a growing need for information and research on the technique that is now involved in approximately one-third of all orthopaedic procedures.

“AANA’s members wanted to meet more often. The international association met every two years,” said Edward Goss, AANA’s executive director, “and that simply wasn’t sufficient.”

AANA faced several challenges in its early years, not the least of which was building a solid financial basis for the organization. “Finances were a challenge in the early days. But because we have consistently offered orthopaedic surgeons a quality educational experience, our courses have been well-attended over the years. As a result AANA has become a financially solid association,” Goss explained. “This helps our members focus on being the educators they want to be.”

The development of AANA’s peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery, is also an indictor of the association’s progress. “When the journal first came out in the mid 1980s, it was a quarterly,” Albert recalled. “Its frequency increased to six times a year, then nine times a year. Now it comes out monthly.”

Celebrating a joint venture

One of AANA’s major accomplishments was its role in the creation of the Orthopaedic Learning Center (OLC). The OLC opened in1994 at the AAOS headquarters in Rosemont, Ill., as a joint effort between the Academy and AANA. More than 4,000 orthopaedic surgeons from all over the world attend classes each year at the OLC, which boasts a custom-designed 5,600-square-foot bioskills lab with 25 workstations.

“AANA members had dreamed of having a fixed facility in which to teach hands-on arthroscopic surgery,” Goss recalled. “While we now have about 2,400 members, we had less than 800 in 1990 — too small an organization to build and support such an expensive and complex endeavor. The Academy had recently purchased the building and a natural cooperative venture developed.”

The OLC will be put to good use tomorrow, the final day of the Annual Meeting, when AANA and AAOS hold a joint shoulder arthroscopy skills course.

“It is shaping up as a popular course with a lot of international members attending,” said Albert.

Looking to the future

What can AANA members expect for the next 25 years? “For one thing, we’re looking to the next generation of members, those men and women just beginning their medical education or perhaps considering a career in arthroscopy,” said Albert. “Out of that group will come AANA’s future leadership.”

Goss said the association plans to continue focusing on education and keeping its cutting edge reputation. “Reaching a milestone such as a Silver Anniversary causes an association to take stock of what it has been doing right (and maybe wrong) along the way. We must continue to provide orthopaedic surgeons with innovative educational experiences that will prove valuable in the operating room. If we do that well, we will be in a position to celebrate a Golden Anniversary.”

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