August 2002 Bulletin

The AAOS needs and wants your participation

It is popular these days to write or talk about how differences exist between the various generations and how there are differences in goals and values between age groups. As the Academy moves towards its 70th year, it is important for us to look at these differences, as we did in our recent AAOS in 2005 project, and respond appropriately to them. Only then can the Academy do its best to provide the value you want and the growth we need to continue to be a premier professional association.

Decline in association participation

In 2000, Dr. Robert Putnam published his book entitled "Bowling Alone," which addresses the issue of declining social interaction in the United States over the past 50 years. The title emanates from the fact that there are about the same number of bowlers now as in prior years, but the number of bowling leagues has plummeted. In fact, there has been a decline in the number of members of associations of all types, from service organizations—such as the Rotary, to professional associations—such as the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association, which now has less than 30 percent of U.S. physicians as members.

There has been a general decline in interest in volunteering in nearly all associations. In addition to generational differences, Putnam writes that this declining interest in associations is due to many other demands on our time, including television and Internet time, commuting and need for both parents to work.

Despite this widespread general decline in participation in professional associations, the AAOS has been fortunate to have Fellows interested in volunteering for a number of projects and committees over the past 70 years. This is a trend we wish to see continue and grow. I have been asked by some of our Fellows how they can get involved with Academy work; unfortunately, a number of them have the impression that they need to know someone in order to be appointed to one of the committees. I want to assure you that this is not the case.

Volunteer database

In an effort to base committee appointments more on competency and less on friendship, we have instituted this past year the KEI database, with these letters standing for knowledge, experience and interest. The KEI database, accessible through the Member Services segment of the AAOS Web site, allows Fellows to go online and indicate which committee or work group he or she may be interested in joining. The committee positions for which there are openings are listed here and the applicant can select which one he or she would prefer.

The committee chairs and AAOS Committee on Committees will carefully evaluate these applications at its fall meeting and at subsequent meetings, with the goal being to match the competency of the applicants with the needs of the various committees. This process will help the Academy by better identifying our Fellows with skills and experience we didn’t previously know about and will help those Fellows interested in AAOS involvement to be appointed. I strongly encourage those of you interested in volunteering for a role in the AAOS to look into the KEI database and submit your qualifications and interests to us. In the years ahead, we look toward basing essentially all of our project team and committee appointments on this KEI database.

Electronic communications

Electronic communication has become increasingly important to the AAOS in maintaining contact with our Fellows. Many of you currently read daily pertinent medical, legislative and orthopaedic updates on the "AAOS Headline News," which is available to each Fellow as a benefit of membership through the AAOS website. I recommend this highly to those of you not currently receiving it. You may sign up for it through the AAOS Web site. "AAOS Headline News" will be delivered to your e-mail inbox automatically on a daily basis.

Communications about patient and product safety issues are facilitated by e-mail transmission. Not only can we reach you quickly with these important messages, the AAOS saves a significant amount of money if we can communicate electronically rather than using fax transmission or mail. We would like to reach all of you through this communications mode; however, the AAOS office now has e-mail addresses for only 50 percent of our Fellows. If you would provide the AAOS office with your e-mail address, either by contacting the Rosemont office or by signing up on the AAOS Web site, you will help make us a more effective and efficient organization. Let me point out that your e-mail address is kept confidential and is not shared with third parties.

Cast your vote

In Putnam’s book, he notes that there has been a continual decline in the percentage of the U.S. population that votes in each election cycle over the past 40 years. This fact hits home to those of us involved in the Academy, as we have also seen a declining participation in our voting recently. In 1993, 40% of eligible AAOS Fellows voted for the Nominating Committee, but in 2002, this number dropped to 28% of eligible AAOS Fellows.

The AAOS Board of Directors is committed to reversing this trend and increasing the participation of our Fellows in the voting for the 2003 Nominating Committee. The AAOS marketing research department has already conducted focus groups and one-on-one interviews with Fellows at the Annual Meeting in Dallas and during courses at the Orthopaedic Learning Center. Further market research is planned to look at the demographics of those Fellows who do or do not vote in the coming election. Once the 2003 election is over, further information on voting patterns will be available so that we can improve this process more.

I urge all of you to vote for the 2003 Nominating Committee when the ballot comes in the next month or two, so that your vote can be your voice in selecting the future Academy leadership. You may want to alert the office staff that opens and sorts your mail that this is important to you and that you want to see the ballot when it arrives.

How are we doing?

Finally, I personally have an interest in your opinion as to whether or not the AAOS is fulfilling your expectations as your professional organization. I recognize that there is a large group of our Fellows involved in busy orthopaedic practices that use the AAOS as their educational resource and may not be too interested in other Academy or Association involvement. But, it is important to the on-going success of AAOS that we address the pertinent concerns and interests of our Fellowship. If there are issues you think we need to work more on, please e-mail me at or write me.

The true test of the value of AAOS to you is whether we address your concerns and represent your interests in the broadest sense. I think the AAOS can continue to counter the thesis of Putnam and avoid the destiny of many professional organizations over the past few decades. But, we need your input, your advice on the work of the AAOS, and your continued valued volunteer efforts.

Vernon T. Tolo, MD

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