Academy's primary mission is continuing medical education
The primary endeavor of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is education-most importantly, continuing medical education. While we are engaged in many research and socioeconomic issues, more than 75 percent of the budget of the Academy is dedicated to education-your education.
While the organization is undergoing some structural changes, the primary mission, education, will not change. The new federal restrictions placed on the lobbying activities of organizations such as the Academy necessitated our creation of a new 501(c)(6) organization that will enable us to continue to have the same level of socioeconomic presence in Washington as we have had in the past.
However, this structural change in our organization(s) will not alter our mission. Indeed, we have created an overall strategic plan that will drive the activities of both the new 501(c)(6) and the 501(c)(3) organizations. The strategic plan focuses first and foremost on education of the orthopaedic surgeon as the keystone of our endeavors. This emphasis will never change.
I just returned from a very successful Summer Institute held this year for the first time in Rosemont, Ill. in conjunction with the Orthopaedic Learning Center. By all accounts, it was a resounding success. Surgical skills education, as conducted at the Summer Institute and the Orthopaedic Learning Center, is a very expensive endeavor.
Over the years, many of your fellow Academy members have volunteered their time, away from their practices, to provide expert instruction in these courses. While relying on these volunteers helps to keep the costs low, the equipment, supplies and other resources needed to put on a first class surgical skills course continue to drive up their cost.
In order to offset the increasing cost of surgical skills education, in March, the Board of Directors created a board-restricted fund of $6.5 million. The interest generated from this fund will be used exclusively to help underwrite the Summer Institute and the Orthopaedic Learning Center and to maintain course registration fees for members at the current level for the next five years. This is but one example of our strong commitment to your education.
Watch for the new and innovative continuing education courses that will be offered by the Academy during the coming year. The Committee on Educational Programming has worked hard to create courses that are relevant to your practice and will add value to it. As we acquire more outcomes data, the information is being fed directly into the courses so that you can enhance the care of your patients. This past spring, concurrently with the annual meeting of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, we jointly sponsored a review course focused on the shoulder and elbow. This course sold out; not all who wanted to could attend. This joint-sponsored course will be repeated in two years, and we hope to joint venture with other specialty societies in a similar way in the near future.
Continuing medical education online clearly will grow in importance in the future. In some respects, the future is already here. Check out the Academy web page at www.aaos.org. You will be amazed to see the educational resources available to you today. In addition to facilitating course and meeting registration and giving you immediate access to purchase all the Academy's educational products, our first online courses are now available. We expect to see this method of CME grow dramatically over the next couple of years.
While it is impossible to list all the ways we are committed to enhancing your education, let me just close this column with an invitation to you to attend our upcoming Annual Meeting in Orange County, Calif., Feb. 4-8, 1999. It is going to be fantastic-both academically and socially. Watch for the registration materials coming in the mail and plan to bring your family and join my wife Susan and me for a very rewarding and enjoyable time. This will be the best Annual Meeting ever!
Education has been the overriding commitment of the Academy for more than sixty years. This commitment will continue into the future, undiminished, indeed, enhanced in many ways. If you feel that you have any unmet educational needs, please let me know because I am committed as a highest priority to meet any such need. We look forward to seeing you in Anaheim.
James D. Heckman, MD