Who are we? Who do we want to be?
Societal changes have effected monumental changes in medical care, tending toward the less expensive, resulting in a loss of quality and fewer dollars paid to the practitioners of medicine. Shrinking payments for our services have caused us to make choices in the way we practice our art. This decrease in compensation has negatively impacted our practices, and our Academy, as it has with every medical discipline. Sadly, it has also had an effect on the quality of patient care.
As is true with our individual practices, the resources available to the Academy are limited. We, as physicians, even as the powerful group that the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has grown to be, must prioritize. We can no longer use the "shotgun" approach to "be all things to all people." It is now time to cull from our priorities those Academy-supported programs which are ineffective, and use those saved resources for programs which will better benefit our patients, our members and the Academy as a whole. We have supported some areas in the past which were, in retrospect, of marginal value, but at that time we had sufficient resources to encompass all areas. We can no longer afford that luxury. We need you, our membership, to clarify which educational programs will be of value to you and your patients and which we might table-until better times.
We can all agree that the primary mission of the Academy is to continue support of the highest quality education and research. This ultimately leads to the highest quality in patient care. The Academy is about to undertake an extensive education program for our members and our patients. This will serve to improve the patient/physician relationship, restoring the trust between us, so prevalent in the past but which has since eroded. This effort to improve our communication skills and educate us in comprehensive musculoskeletal care and preventative programs will be extensive. This inclusive education program for our fellows and our patients, which will be facilitated through the Academy office, will require significant financial resources. Given that the resources available to the Academy in the future will diminish, we simply cannot support everything we have in the past. What should your Board of Directors be doing to insure that the character, quality, strength and uniqueness of the Academy are preserved for the next generation?
I invite you, our members, to log on to the "Member Sevices" section of the Academy home page www.aaos.org and tell us what you believe makes the Academy unique. We would like to know the reason you are a member, and which programs and initiatives make a positive difference to you, so that the Academy can concentrate on those programs and initiatives. I am especially interested in hearing from our younger members, those whose needs and wants may be different from those of my generation. I strongly feel that the Academy needs to connect with you to secure its relevance in the future.
Please communicate your thoughts to your Board of Directors.
Robert D. D'Ambrosia, MD