Tipton Leadership Award presented to Stuart A. Hirsch, MD
By Jennie McKee
Stuart A. Hirsch, MD, received the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation’ s (OREF) William W. Tipton Jr., MD Leadership Award during yesterday’s Ceremonial Meeting in Ballroom 20. Richard Haynes, MD, presented the award.
The award recognizes Dr. Hirsch’s many years of service to the orthopaedic community, and is an acknowledgement of his efforts as the guiding force behind the construction of safe, accessible playgrounds and as a mentor who continues to encourage young orthopaedic surgeons to become leaders and advance patient care.
During an orthopaedic career spanning more than three decades, Dr. Hirsch has filled many important leadership roles within the orthopaedic community. Examples of his extensive service to the AAOS include serving on the Board of Councilors, as an officer on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer.
Dr. Hirsch served for many years as chair of the Communications Council; while he held that position, the Academy initiated its annual playground build, which this year was held on Tuesday in Chula Vista.
Dr. Hirsch has also made significant contributions to the AAOS Leadership Fellows Program. The program, which Dr. Hirsch was instrumental in establishing in 2001, combines didactic leadership training with an ongoing mentoring program that matches participants with an established leader within the orthopaedic community.
Dr. Hirsch, a New Jersey resident, has also been a leader within organizations such as the American Orthopaedic Association and the New Jersey Orthopaedic Society, and has served on the U.S. Congressional Health Advisory Panel.
Serving patients and inspiring others
According to William J. Robb III, MD, chair of the Tipton Leadership Award Committee, the committee selected Dr. Hirsch as the second recipient of this award because Dr. Hirsch is “a mentor, an advisor, a leader by example, and above all, a physician dedicated to his patients and his Academy. He embodies every criterion that the committee recognized as important in honoring Bill Tipton’s leadership skills.”
Valerae O. Lewis, MD, assistant professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, believes that Dr. Hirsch’s leadership demonstrates the qualities the Tipton Award is meant to acknowledge.
“A true leader not only leads by example, but inspires others to do the same,” Dr. Lewis said. “I think this is exemplified in Stuart’s devoted service and interactions within the community of orthopaedics and beyond.”
“Stuart has been involved in his local orthopaedic community and has also been very active nationally, working closely with the Academy’s Washington, D.C., office over many years to advocate for orthopaedists,” said Dr. Robb. He also pointed to Dr. Hirsch’s involvement in the AAOS Leadership Fellows Program as an example of how his work helps other orthopaedists.
“Stuart has been a very important leader and contributor in that program over the last five years,” said Dr. Robb. “His commitment to the Leadership Fellows Program will allow new generations of orthopaedic surgeons to benefit from his leadership.”
Dr. Hirsch said that although it wasn’t his most visible leadership activity, creating opportunities for young orthopaedists as a leadership mentor was one he greatly enjoyed.
“Investing in our future leaders is as great an investment as you can make. We recognize that our investment in our specialty, and our personal commitment to research and the future will reward both us, as the physicians, and our patients with new technology and new techniques so that we can respond even better to the conditions we treat.”
Listening, Dr. Hirsch says, is an important part of investing in the future, and he credits his leadership roles with giving him a chance to make friends and learn more about the specialty, but most importantly with teaching him to communicate and listen intently to address the educational needs of orthopaedic surgeons and patients.
“Orthopaedic surgery is so important to our way of life for recreation, health, restoring function after injury and illness, and diminishing the infirmities of aging. With good leadership, we will be recognized as serving vital and important functions that are appreciated by our society,” he said.
Dr. Hirsch draws a parallel between the Academy’s annual playground build and the overarching goals of orthopaedic medicine.
“A 20-something woman who had cerebral palsy spoke from her heart after one of the playground builds. She said that growing up she had never had the opportunity to play with her brothers or sisters at the playground, and if playgrounds like the one we built had been available, she would have been able to play with her siblings,” recalled Dr. Hirsch. “I believe that’s an excellent metaphor for what orthopaedics is all about: we return people to function in a better capacity by breaking down the barriers that prevented them from fully participating in life.”
Dr. Hirsch received his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency at Downstate Medical Center/Kings County Hospital in New York. After serving as captain, orthopaedic specialist in the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Hirsch completed his fellowship at A-O Group, in Switzerland. Dr. Hirsch has held such positions as clinical professor of orthopaedics (surgery) at Seton Hall School of Medicine and consulting orthopaedist for the comprehensive hemophilia care unit at Rutgers Medical School, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and for the New Jersey Post-Polio Support Groups.
Established by friends, colleagues, and organizations through the OREF, the Tipton Leadership Award honors the qualities that Dr. Tipton exemplified—leadership, passion, and dedication to the medical community and fellow orthopaedists.
An orthopaedic surgeon, educator, and former chair of the AAOS Board of Councilors, Dr. Tipton also served as AAOS executive vice president and, for nearly 10 years, led the AAOS as its chief executive officer. The award commemorates Dr. Tipton’s life and accomplishments and encourages others to continue his legacy.
“Bill had developed a talent for bringing together skilled orthopaedic surgeons and opportunities to serve the orthopaedic community,” said Dr. Hirsch. “He was a leader who would use his position not for personal benefit, but rather to benefit the specialty and to empower those who he came in contact with.”
Richard J. Haynes, MD, the recipient of the inaugural Tipton Award, donated the financial portion of his award to the Thomas E. Cain, MD Educational Trust Fund, which supports Medical Student summer research projects at the Shriners Hospital in Houston. With a career that began in the U.S. Army and led him to his current position as chief of staff at Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston, Dr. Haynes is also a model of the ideals the Tipton Award commemorates.
Dr. Hirsch plans to donate the $5,000 Tipton Award to encourage support for developing orthopaedic leadership and to continue supporting playground builds.