The opening ceremonies for the 69th Annual Meeting of the AAOS paid homage to our country and those who serve, recognized the achievements of organizations and individuals and celebrated the future. From the first presentation of the U.S. flag and singing of the national anthem to the final remarks welcoming the class of 2002, the afternoons activities were both inspiring and entertaining.
The welcome by 2001-2002 AAOS President Richard H. Gelberman, MD, was followed by introductions of the International Presidents, Specialty Society Presidents and members of the AAOS Board of Directors. Local chair Robert W. Bucholz, MD, gave a "Big D" Texas welcome to all. A performance by the InFlight Dance Company of San Antonio, an integrated company of both able-bodied and wheelchair dancers, exemplified how movement to music is therapeutic for the body and uplifting for the spirit.
Also uplifting to the spirit were the stories of David Apple, MD, and Charles P. McConnachie, MD, winners of the third annual AAOS Humanitarian awards. Dr. Apple received the award for his work with the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, which originally provided care and rehabilitation treatment for patients with tetraplegia and paraplegia and is now the nations largest catastrophic care hospital. Dr. McConnachie was honored for his efforts to bring quality medical care to the underprivileged of Umatia, in the Transkei region of the Republic of South Africa.
Bonnie Warren, National Pan Hellenic Conference Delegate and a member of the Kappa Delta governing council, and Gary E. Friedlaender, MD, chairman of the Research Committee, presented the Kappa Delta Awards. Victor Goldberg, MD, vice-chairman of the OREF Grants Committee, presented the OREF Clinical Research award.
Richard R. Briggs, MD, chairman of the Membership Committee, introduced the Class of 2002 and International Affiliate New Members, and James W. Strickland, MD, delivered a welcome to the 598 new members.
In his presidential address, AAOS President Richard H. Gelberman, MD, described "an interesting interval" in the Academys recent history. He focused on the changes taking place, not only in society at large, but also within the practice of orthopaedics.
"Two years ago, the Academy recognized that the environment for orthopaedic surgery was changing," he said, "in practice, in research, and in education, that there were challenges we were facing that were unlike those we had seen before and that bold steps would be required if we were to be at the forefront of professional medical organizations in the future.
"A new generation of orthopaedic surgeons was emerging, one that different from previous generations in important ways: in social values, in lifestyle preferences and in technical competence, Dr. Gelberman noted. "They are far more interested in and far more dependent on new technological resources than were previous generations.
"Consequently, 18 months ago, we set forth a plan that had us taking the initiative with a multi-faceted program known as the AAOS in 2005. This program grew over time, to become one of the most extensive evidence-based planning processes we have undertaken. It called for the collection of a great deal of data from a wide variety of sources: from consultants, from surveys, from focus groups, project team meetings and from Board workshops and retreats and from the most authoritative resources in the field.
"In developing AAOS in 2005, it became clear that what mattered most is that the Academy concentrate its efforts on developing programs of sustained value to practicing orthopaedists," continued Dr. Gelberman. "The evidence-based initiatives that evolved underscore the concept that providing information-knowledge is at the core of the Academys mission."
Dr. Gelberman reviewed several new or recently implemented programs that are part of the "multi-year, concentrated effort to raise the level of effectiveness of the AAOS to new heights in education, in research, and in practice, as we approach our position as one of the most important professional organizations in medicine." Among these programs are:
Other programs, including the development of a resource center to provide coding and compliance assistance, the creation of a practice management center on the AAOS web site and the establishment of the Council on Academic Affairs, are designed to assess and report on advances in orthopaedic practice.
One of the major efforts being made is to find a way to increase support for the orthopaedic clinician scientist, according to Dr. Gelberman. He pointed out that Gene Wurth, President of the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation, announced an early and important advance in this area recently. It consists of a new grant, the OREF Clinician Scientist Award, which will provide a salary supplement of $50,000 for up to five years to enable clinician scientists to spend more time in the laboratory. The award was made possible by a significant donation to the OREF by Zachary B. Friedenberg, MD, and his wife, Kathleen, both of whom were in attendance at the Annual Meeting and honored by a long round of applause.
Turning to the future, Dr. Gelberman called attention to other initiatives, including the streamlining of the Board of Directors, the opening up of the resolutions and bylaws processes, the creation of a competency-based knowledge, experience and interest data base, and the introduction of a new leadership and mentoring program.
"Finally," said Dr. Gelberman, "we have invested substantially in the future of print and electronic education so that we can reach new levels of effectiveness in our core mission." Among these efforts are the new relationship with the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, which is now provided as a member benefit to each Academy member, and the new Orthopaedic Knowledge Online program.
Dr. Gelberman noted that AAOS 2005 has had a major impact on AAOS planning. "Its clear AAOS 2005 has altered the core of the Academy," he said. "Through this process we become a highly focused knowledge-based organization, with a governance structure that is founded on the competency and skills of its members and the talent of its outstanding staff, and one which effectively empowers the units that are closest to the action.
"The Academy has truly become a knowledge-based organization, with a governance structure that is founded on the competency and skills of its members and the talent of its outstanding staff, one that effectively empowers the units that are closest to the action," concluded Dr. Gelberman.