April 2002 Bulletin

Spotlight on success: How one surgeon uses community presentations to tell the orthopaedics story

Orthopaedic surgeon John Lindstrom, MD of Appleton, Wisc., is spreading the word to his local community about orthopaedic topics, incorporating AAOS community orthopaedic awareness program (COAP) resources. Using a local hospital’s community and newspaper contacts and other infrastructure resources for publicity, Dr. Lindstrom offers free public educational programs covering such topics as osteoporosis and ACL injuries. He uses COAP and AAOS continuing medical education (CME) materials because they "help save me from doing some legwork," in preparing for and presenting his talks.

Public Education Pays

It pays to educate the public about common orthopaedic conditions, Dr. Lindstrom says, because musculoskeletal topics might not otherwise get the same level of community attention as subjects like heart disease or cancer. "Community presentations tell the orthopaedic story," Lindstrom explains. "When we present useful information to people, it helps them to become better health care consumers." Among other benefits, he says his efforts help people to know when they do, or do not, need to see the doctor. "This means the local population base can use orthopaedic resources more efficiently and effectively," he advises.

The public responds positively to Dr. Lindstrom’s efforts; in many instances these community lectures become social outlets for seniors in the community. A related benefit for him is the chance to spread the word about his orthopaedic services and further market his practice. Dr. Lindstrom’s advice to fellow orthopaedic surgeons: start talking to your communities. "If your market is over-served, you need to make yourself more visible to the public. If, on the other hand, your practice is already busy, you should not become complacent."

Developing more topics

Dr. Lindstrom is excited about the prospect of AAOS developing more community orthopaedic awareness programs. He’d especially like COAP resources to cover the topic of "What is Orthopaedics?" "Although COAP program modules already introduce the general topic of orthopaedics," he says, "patients would really benefit if they had more information about the specialty." He would like to educate the community about the variety of musculoskeletal conditions orthopaedists treat.

"I am convinced that patients do not understand who we are and what we do," Dr. Lindstrom explains. "An in-depth presentation would help because a lot of people don’t realize the variety of conditions that orthopaedists treat." He cites a recent example of a total hip replacement patient who was surprised to learn that Dr. Lindstrom could also help her carpal tunnel syndrome.

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