June 2001 Bulletin

AAOS extends orthopaedic education globally

Initiatives reach 13,000 orthopaedists; generate $3 million in annual revenues

By Lynne Dowling

In the past six years, the Academy has launched a series of global initiatives designed to expand world access to quality orthopaedic educational programs and products, and to expand revenue sources for the Academy. These initiatives have been a resounding success, and have generated more than $3 million in annual revenue for the Academy.

These initiatives are focused primarily on five areas of activity:

Academy books have been translated into eight different languages: Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Arabic and Turkish. Distribution of English and translated editions of Academy works is now available on every continent. Academy revenues from these sources are more than $500,000 a year.

Because of the agreements that the Academy has been able to negotiate for the translated products, it is possible to price the products at fair market value for the local economic environment. As a result, more orthopaedists have access to quality education products than ever before. In turn, this access has enhanced worldwide awareness of the Academy, demand for its products and desire to participate in the Annual Meeting. On average, 3,200-5,000 international orthopaedic surgeons participate in the Academy Annual Meeting each year.

International Affiliate Membership status, incorporated into the Academy Bylaws four years ago, is now enjoyed by an average of 2,000 international members per year; this provides another important revenue source for the Academy. As a result of membership status, more physicians worldwide are aware of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and are spreading the word about the quality and value of this publication.

One of the most rewarding successes among the international initiatives has been the growth and geographic reach of international education programs, which fall under the aegis of the International Committee. In 1997, the Academy took its first bold step into this arena when it convened two multiday, comprehensive orthopaedic review courses for Brazil and Egypt. Today, international program activity has mushroomed to include four to six major programs per year.

To date, these programs have reached more than 13,000 orthopaedists in Mexico, Central and Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern and Western Europe, North Africa, Taiwan and India. Nearly 100 Academy Fellows have had the opportunity to participate as faculty in these programs.

According to the U.S. faculty, the experience tends to be very satisfying because registrants are totally dedicated to the program and pay rapt attention to the presentations. The Q and A sessions demonstrate remarkable attention and interest. Further, many of these programs are comprised of 8-10 hours of lectures per day, yet the overwhelming majority of the audience participates in the full day’s program each day.

A recent program chairman, Lowell Gill, MD, summed up the experience very well, when he said, "The most outstanding feature of this international course was the enthusiasm of the attendees. They are polite, attentive, sincere, intelligent and dedicated. The sheer volume of their numerous questions after virtually every lecture attests to their very strong desire to learn. Their questions reflected excellent insight."

But it’s not just the international participants who benefit from these programs. The majority of Academy Fellows who have participated in these courses confirm they would welcome the opportunity to do so again in the future. The following has been said of the international programs: "Such (activities) involve a tremendous amount of work on the part of many people.... One of the things that makes this all so worthwhile is that there is a very definite humanitarian benefit in sharing knowledge among caregivers...and this is what really makes all the effort worthwhile."

To support the expanded international initiatives, the Academy has increased the role and charges of the International Committee, and has hired professional staff with strong international business, linguistic and inter-cultural skills.

The Academy is proud of its efforts to expand worldwide access to quality orthopaedic education, increase access to international education and volunteer opportunities and to expand Academy revenue sources in a way that is beneficial to all parties.

Lynne Dowling is director of the AAOS department of international programs.

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