ASES celebrates 25 years of progress and education

ASES celebrates 25 years of progress and education

By Peter Pollack

In 2007, the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) celebrates its 25th anniversary. Established in 1982 through the efforts of Charles Sumner Neer, II, MD, who also served as its founding president, the ASES adopted the following mission statement: “Through educational programs and by encouraging research, the organization seeks to foster and advance the science and practice of shoulder and elbow care.”

“We have a huge debt to pay to our founding members,” says the society’s current president, Wayne Z. Burkhead Jr, MD.

Making an impact

Membership in the ASES is by invitation only, and with just about 200 members, the ASES is among the smallest and most exclusive orthopaedic specialty societies. Despite its size, the organization works hard to make a wide impact.

ASES members make great efforts to reach out to the international orthopaedic community—especially to other shoulder and elbow surgeons. Toward that end, ASES took the lead in the founding of the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery (JSES), now in its 15th year of publication. JSES serves as the official journal of 10 shoulder and elbow societies around the world.

Additionally, ASES cosponsors an Exchange Fellowship program with the European Society for Surgery of the Shoulder and the Elbow (ESSSE). Every other year, a young and promising orthopaedic surgeon with a special interest in shoulder and elbow research is chosen to spend four to six weeks in Europe, visiting multiple facilities and studying surgical techniques. In alternate years, ESSSE sends a candidate of its own to work with ASES surgeons. Each Exchange Fellowship is timed to conclude with the national meeting of the sponsoring society, and the recipient is also given an expense-paid trip to the next ASES closed meeting in order to deliver a presentation on his or her experiences.

The ASES annual open meeting—held each year on Specialty Day at the AAOS Annual Meeting—gives ASES members a chance to share their work with surgeons from other specialties. Keeping the ASES connected with the AAOS and other orthopaedists was part of the association’s initial plan.

“From the beginning, we made a tremendous effort to not give the idea that there was fragmentation,” says Robert H. Cofield, MD, a founding member and past president of ASES. “We were all Academy members, and this society was developed to enhance the communication and education amongst members and interested people.”

Educating specialists

The ASES is an educational body responsible for development of scientific programs, for organization of current knowledge, for standardization of nomenclature and for publication of scientific materials. During its annual closed meeting, shoulder and elbow surgeons get together and focus on enhancing the state of the art in their specialty. It’s a chance for members to meet, present materials about projects they’re working on, and connect with their peers.

“People can talk informally, get to know the other members and recognize their practice patterns and what they can contribute. It’s a great setting for personal interchange for those of us who focus on shoulder and elbow,” says Dr. Cofield.

With 25 years of progress behind them, ASES members now have the opportunity to reflect upon their achievements. The organization is planning a symposium dedicated to the history of shoulder surgery, which will take place at the closed meeting in Dallas later this year. Looking forward, the ASES has no intention of resting on its laurels.

“Our goal is to continue to live up to the incredibly high standards that were set by the founding members, not only in their scientific endeavors, but also the degree of integrity with which each of them have lived their lives,” says Dr. Burkhead. “Going forward, that’s our challenge.”

For more information about the ASES, visit the society’s Web site at:

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