AAOS meetings draw participants worldwide
By Carolyn Rogers
While most AAOS members are aware of the Academys reputation as a world leader in orthopaedics and orthopaedic education, some might be surprised to learn the degree of international participation in Academy programsthe Annual Meeting, in particular.
Physicians from 102 different countriesmany as remote as Estonia, Kenya, Macau, Bahrain, Nepal, St. Lucia and Tongatraveled to the United States in February to participate in the 2002 Annual Meeting.
"Of the total number of physicians attending Annual Meeting, the international physician component is between 31 to 35 percent," reports Lynne Dowling, director of the Academys International Programs department. "Thats a significant amount."
Even with attendance down this year, more than 8,300 international orthopaedic surgeons attended the 2001 and 2002 Annual Meetings combined. Of the Academys 2,200 international members, at least half attend the Annual Meeting in any given year.
"The majority of orthopaedic associations around the world simply do not have the wealth of resources the Academy is able to offer its members," Dowling says. "They dont have the infrastructure. As a result, while most groups hold their own yearly meetings, the Academys Annual Meeting is still viewed as the premier orthopaedic meeting of the world. People really do want to participate."
Large contingents arrive each year from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Spain, Mexico and Sweden, giving the meeting an "astounding international quality," Dowling says.
At the 2002 meeting, for example, a symposium on the arthritic knee in middle-aged patients featured an all-international faculty, drawing a crowd of 400 participants.
"This was an opportunity to hear the worlds top experts in the field," Dowling says. "It was very well received."
Not only do international attendees instill the Annual Meeting with a diverse, global flavor, they generate significant revenue for the Academy in terms of meeting, course and event registration fees. "International attendees also are responsible for more than one third of book product purchases made at the meeting," Dowling adds. "These additional revenues are used to support a number of domestic Academy initiatives."
OKO to go global
One of the unique educational resources the AAOS is able to offer its members is Orthopaedic Knowledge Online (OKO) the Academys ambitious new educational Web site.
A demonstration of OKO was provided at the 2002 International Presidents Breakfast, earning a highly enthusiastic response. As a result, AAOS international staff is now working with international societies to work out appropriate financial arrangements and fair market values in individual countries to allow them access to the site. In time, parts of OKO will likely be translated into other languages, as well.
Clearly, the participation of international physicians in the AAOS Annual Meeting provides rich rewards to the physicians themselves, as well as to the Academy.
"This substantial international participation allows Academy members to learn about advances in orthopaedics that have been developed outside of the U.S., and visa versa," Dowling says. "And of course, the meeting provides physicians from across the globe the opportunity to learn new skills and information that will help them and their patients."