The Academy's growing international presence may get a major boost at the Annual Meeting in San Francisco next month when the fellowship votes on a bylaws change to create an International Affiliate membership.
If approved, the new membership category is expected to not only increase Academy membership and boost an already significant attendance of international orthopaedic surgeons at the Annual Meeting, but it also will underscore the Academy's dedication to education of orthopaedists everywhere.
Theodore R. Waugh, MD, chairman of the International Committee, points out that in the beginning the Academy's overseas activities involved mainly humanitarian activities. These continue, Dr. Waugh said, in the form of the decade-old Visiting Faculty Programs, led by Charles A. Rockwood Jr., MD; support of Orthopaedics Overseas; and donations of educational books, videos, CD-ROMs and patient education to almost 20 nations.
Over the years, the Academy has seen a significant increase in attendance at the Annual Meeting and in purchases of Academy educational resources. Since 1993, international attendance at the Annual Meeting has grown at a compound annual rate of 15.8 percent. The repeat attendance figures also are impressive; more than 35 percent of the international attendees at the 1996 Annual Meeting also were at the 1995 meeting.
Almost 11,000 of 47,638 orthopaedic surgeons in 20 other nations have attended the Annual Meeting in the last three years. In 1996, international orthopaedic surgeons accounted for 27.5 percent of all physician attendees.
The Academy's educational resources are highly valued by international orthopaedic surgeons. Between fiscal 1993 and 1996, international revenue from Annual Meetings and sales of publications and other educational resources has grown 116 percent to $2,148,000. International revenues accounted for 6.9 percent of the Academy's total revenues in fiscal 1996.
While the emphasis of the international effort is on providing educational resources to the world, the revenue stream is important to the Academy efforts to develop additional educational resources. Expanding the international membership will generate more revenue which could be increasingly important as the changes in the health care delivery system and the impact on orthopaedic surgeons in the U.S. evolve.
If approved, the International Affiliate membership will allow international orthopaedic surgeons to become non-voting members for $300 a year. However, they also must be members of the orthopaedic organization in their own country, said Dr. Waugh. Benefits will include free Annual Meeting registration and the member-rate for the purchase of publications and other educational resources. The international members will receive at no cost the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: A Comprehensive Review.
Dr. Waugh said the Academy's international presence has grown substantially since the expansion of the charges, membership and budget of the International Committee two years ago and the addition of a full-time Academy staff person.
The Academy has been represented at international orthopaedic society meetings in Europe, Central and South America, Australia and Japan, the first annual International Medical Books and Journals Exhibition in Beijing, China in 1995 and the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1995 and 1996. The Academy's Journal now includes an Italian edition of selected articles which is circulated to 3,000 orthopaedists in that country.
In 1997, the International Committee hopes to develop a surgical skills course in Germany and a satellite transmission skills video program in Indonesia. The programs will be developed in conjunction with private, for-profit educational firms and the local orthopaedic societies in Germany, The Netherlands and Indonesia. The Academy also will be partners with the Australian Orthopaedic Association in an arthroscopy course in Canberra and with the Brazilian Orthopaedic Association for a course at the Orthopaedic Learning Center in Rosemont, Ill., or in Brazil.
It is important for the Academy to develop programs that meet the special needs in other countries, Dr. Waugh said. That means separate custom-designed courses to meet the needs of the international orthopaedists. This philosophy will be applied to all non-Annual Meeting educational programs developed for international orthopaedists, for delivery in the U.S. or abroad.
The International Committee will launch a new educational exchange program immediately after the 1997 Annual Meeting when nine orthopaedic surgeons from Japan, Brazil and Spain will spend two- and three-day observerships with individual and group volunteer hosts in the San Francisco area. If successful, this could become an annual event.
More than 40 fellow volunteers, the International Committee and the Board of Directors will host a business breakfast for the international presidents attending the Annual Meeting.