Academy joins Argentine orthopaedists for first AAOT-AAOS Congress
By Carolyn Rogers
International orthopaedic societies routinely petition AAOS to partner with them on educational programs, and each year the Academy plans and implements at least four such programs around the world. In December 2005, however, AAOS broke new ground by holding the first joint annual meeting outside the United States.
The Academy’s long-standing relationship with the Asociación Argentina de Ortopedia y Traumatología (AAOT) led AAOS leadership to agree that the 42nd AAOT Annual Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was the ideal occasion for the first AAOS annual meeting to be held overseas. “Over the last decade, AAOS has enjoyed a long, productive relationship with our Argentine counterparts,” said Miguel E. Cabanela, MD, chair of the AAOS International Committee. “We were very excited when they approached us with this innovative, concrete proposal for a combined meeting.”
The event—held Dec. 5-8, 2005—was an unqualified success for both organizations. The meeting broke AAOS records for the largest contingent of orthopaedic faculty outside the United States and the highest number of international affiliate membership applications ever received at one meeting.
“AAOT was extremely well prepared for this congress,” said Pietro M. Tonino, MD, AAOS program chair. “Their organizational abilities were on a par with our Academy meeting.”
The turnout for the congress was very strong, attracting 3,644 registered attendees. This represents a 13 percent increase in attendance from the 2002 AAOT Congress—the last time AAOS faculty participated.
The increased attendance was partly due to the record number of prominent U.S. orthopaedic instructors teaching courses. Dr. Tonino recruited a stellar cast of 20 cutting-edge researchers and orthopaedists for the meeting. The contingent included AAOS President Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, who was honored at the AAOT/AAOS opening ceremonies and spoke at three educational sessions.
“The fact that Dr. Weinstein was there throughout the meeting indicated just how important an endeavor this was for both societies,” Dr. Tonino said. “AAOT members were very proud and appreciative that the Academy had chosen them as our partner for the first combined annual meeting we’ve ever done.”
Visiting faculty and staff agreed that AAOT leaders and organizers—including Ivan Gorosito, MD, AAOT president; Luis Muscolo, MD, president of the 42nd Congress; and others—were extremely gracious and attentive hosts.
The AAOS program
The Academy’s educational program included eight instructional course lectures (ICLs), 16 joint AAOS-AAOT symposia, and five guest speaker presentations—all very well attended.
All AAOS presentations, ICLs and symposia were simultaneously translated into English and Spanish. “The doctors just picked up headsets as they walked into the meeting rooms, plugged into the audio system and selected a channel for English or Spanish,” said Lisa Cohen, manager of international education programs.
Topics were selected by AAOT, and included Sports Medicine, Joint Reconstruction, Musculoskeletal Tumors, Shoulder and Elbow, Spine, Revision Total Hip Arthroplasty, Fractures and Cartilage Surgery.
“Programs such as this are important because they enable U.S. orthopaedists to see what’s happening in the field in other parts of the world,” said Dr. Tonino. “It’s both a teaching and learning experience for us. We’re able to learn from other nation’s societies and orthopaedists, which ultimately will lead to better education for our members.”
AAOS booth a “hit”
The Academy was provided with complimentary exhibit space for an AAOS membership booth, as well as a booth for the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS). The centrally located AAOS booth attracted more than 1,000 attendees, with staff fielding questions on the 2006 Guest Nation Program, the Spanish edition of JAAOS, Orthopaedic Knowledge Online (OKO), AAOS member benefits and more. Nearly 1,000 Guest Nation/Annual Meeting postcards were given away, and Preliminary Programs for the 2006 Annual Meeting were quickly snapped up. Staff also distributed more than 1,000 issues of the Spanish edition of JAAOS, and sold several AAOS publications.
Aside from its prime location, another major draw for the AAOS booth was the special International Affiliate Membership offer, which was available to AAOT attendees only at the meeting. The “two years for the price of one” membership offer included free registration for the 2006 and 2007 AAOS Annual Meetings in the United States, a two-year subscription to JAAOS and two years of access to OKO and the members-only section of the AAOS Web site.
An AAOS membership raffle also attracted attention. Attendees who submitted their course evaluation and received their certificate of attendance were eligible to enter a raffle for:
• Free AAOS membership (two-year special offer), provided by AAOS
• Free airfare to the 2006 AAOS Annual Meeting, provided by AAOT
Nearly 1,000 attendees submitted raffle tickets, and Dr. Weinstein drew the names of the two lucky winners during the closing ceremony.
As a result of these promotions, interest in international affiliate membership was extremely high. AAOS staff sold five times the number of memberships that were anticipated, accepting a total of 100 applications over the course of the congress. This represents a 148 percent increase in the number of international affiliate members from Argentina.
The Academy established several goals for this program, many of which have already been met, including: (1) increasing the number of international affiliate members from Argentina, (2) creating awareness of the Spanish edition of JAAOS, (3) increasing the number of attendees at the 2005 combined congress, and (4) creating awareness that Argentina is the Guest Nation at the 2006 AAOS Annual Meeting.
The success of other program objectives—including increased attendance by Argentinean surgeons at the 2006 AAOS Annual Meeting and greater international demand for AAOS courses and educational products—should become apparent in the coming months.
Participants: Let’s do it again
According to the 942 completed participant evaluations, 93 percent of respondents felt that their learning objectives had been met, and 99 percent indicated they would attend another AAOT/AAOS program in the future.
Many of the participants focused on a desire for more interaction with AAOS faculty and more time for AAOS speakers.
All of the faculty members commented on AAOT’s impressive on-site organization of the program, calling the meeting “truly first-class” and “a tremendously positive experience.”
The lively afternoon Q&A discussion sessions were noted by faculty, who were uniformly impressed by the quality of challenging and thought-provoking questions. Several faculty members cited the opportunity to interact and exchange knowledge with the participants as a highlight of the experience.
Most important, all faculty members “strongly agreed” that the AAOS should continue to develop more joint programs with AAOT in the future.
“The meeting was an outstanding effort by the International Committee and will certainly enhance the AAOS’s standing in the Argentine orthopaedic community,” said Dr. Weinstein. “The bridge of friendship built during this week will pay dividends for AAOT and AAOS for many years to come.”
Seventy exhibitors—including the top names in orthopaedic industry—were represented at the congress. Major industry sponsors were Zimmer, Stryker, Johnson & Johnson and DePuy.
The Argentine association funded the congress largely through industry donations, Dr. Tonino pointed out.
“We carefully reviewed the program in advance to make sure that no specific products would be mentioned during the courses or symposia,” he said. “The success of this meeting demonstrates the ability of industry and the orthopaedic community to cooperate in providing education that is top-rate, that doesn’t come out in support of one product over another and that allows us to educate orthopaedic surgeons worldwide.”
The funds required to transport and house the 20 AAOS faculty members were provided entirely by the orthopaedic industry, Dr. Tonino added. “Without that industry support, this course would never have taken place.”
2006 Guest Nation
AAOT’s well-thought-out proposal for the joint meeting and the associations’ excellent working relationship convinced the International Committee to recommend Argentina as the Guest Nation for the 2006 Annual Meeting.
While you’re in Chicago, welcome Argentina to the Annual Meeting by stopping by the prominent “Guest Nation” exhibit in Hall B. The Guest Nation program also will include recognition of AAOT during the opening ceremonies, a reception, poster presentations and other special events and activities focused on Argentina and the issues facing Argentinean orthopaedic surgeons.