Public service announcements like this can be used effectively to build your practice.

AAOS Now

Published 7/1/2007
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Annie Hayashi

Five ways to put PSAs to work for you

If all you’ve ever done has been admire the AAOS public service announcements in airports, you’re missing out on a valuable resource.

No doubt you’ve seen the large airport posters featuring public service announcements (PSAs) from the AAOS. The striking images—an elderly woman on a tightrope, a smashed all-terrain vehicle (ATV) in an emergency department, a woman with three knees—are hard to miss. Whether in English or in Spanish, the PSAs—with their provocative headlines and pithy messages—are a great way to deliver orthopaedic information in manageable doses to patients and the public.

But don’t think that the Academy’s PSAs are just for airport viewing. Here are five ways that AAOS members have put them to work in their communities and in their practices.

Take the message to legislators
David Peske,
director of governmental relations for the North Dakota Medical Association and informal liaison with the North Dakota Orthopaedic Society, found true power in the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.” As described in the May AAOS Now (“Public service messages work—even at statehouse,” available online at
www.aaos.org/now), he used the ATV postcard PSA during a recent debate in the state legislature.

“A bill was introduced that would allow children as young as 8 years old to ride ATVs,” Peske said. “Unfortunately, the bill passed the House and moved to the Senate. In the meantime, I received the AAOS set of PSA postcards and posters. At the Senate hearing, I gave the committee members the ATV postcards. They were not only a great visual, they helped reinforce the message of concern from North Dakota physicians.” The bill was eventually defeated.

Bridge the language divide
Many practices and hospitals serve populations that are economically disadvantaged or speak languages other than English. Esther Corpuz, who supervises community outreach at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Ill., believes that the PSA materials in Spanish will be useful in communicating important medical information.

“We serve a very diverse community of several ethnic groups, including Latinos who are often economically disadvantaged. The AAOS materials have lots of pictures,” she explained, “which will help us communicate with some of our patients who read at about a fifth-grade level.”

When doctors at MacNeal see patients with osteoporosis, they will use osteoporosis bookmarks to help educate the patients about bone health. The “Bone Up on Bone Loss” fact sheets provide information for the entire family and explain how exercise helps build strong bones, giving specific examples of the types of exercises that are particularly good for building strong bones. The piece also includes how much calcium kids need each day and lists some foods that are high in calcium.

Give back to the community
Matthew S. Shapiro, MD,
chair of the AAOS Board of Councilors, had a major presentation in January 2007—to a group of third-to-fifth graders. For any orthopaedic surgeon, that’s a tough audience. Dr. Shapiro went well armed—with bone pens (a big hit with the children), frisbees, and jump ropes. He also brought in plastic bones, some drills, plates, screw, and rods. As the students practiced fixing broken bones with the plates and rods, Dr. Shapiro explained what an orthopaedic surgeon does.

Build your practice
The Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group will have 21 orthopaedic surgeons by the end of this summer. Kirk Blad, operations manager for the practice, uses PSA materials to help build the practice through community outreach. “We attend health fairs on a quarterly basis. We inform the public about the role of orthopaedic surgeons,” said Blad.

“Colorado Springs is an area with a very active population. People are not always aware that orthopaedic surgeons are specialists in sports injuries. We use AAOS materials to educate people about orthopaedics because they complement our own practice’s literature,” he explained. “We also use AAOS materials in our reception room. When people see that something is from the AAOS, they know the information is top-notch.”

Offer a riveting experience
Several years ago, Gregory S. DiFelice, MD, showed the AAOS film “Wounded in Action” at Grand Rounds for the Montefiore Residency Program at his hospital, Jacobi Medical Center. The film, part of the Legacy of Heroes program, describes the efforts and innovations of orthopaedic surgeons in treating the wounded during World War II and how their work has affected treatment options today.

The son of a veteran who landed with the Second Ranger Battalion on Omaha Beach on D-Day, Dr. DiFelice has always been keenly interested in WWII. His father is still alive, but as Dr. DiFelice says, “It certainly seems that our current society forgets the sacrifices others made so that we could enjoy what we have today. This documentary helps those in our profession to remember and is greatly appreciated.”

Dr. DiFelice reported that a group of about 30 attending physicians and residents were in attendance. “In fact,” he said, “It was one of the few times I have seen every last resident awake for an entire Grand Rounds presentation!”

Now it’s your turn
The 2007 PSA campaign includes five different messages—available in both English and Spanish. Whether you are building your practice or performing community service, these postcards and posters, with their four-color pictures and eye-catching headlines, can help. Most importantly, they provide information you want your patients or the public to have. Use them in your reception room, on your exam room walls, at health fairs, or in meetings with community leaders and legislators.

You’ll find all of the AAOS PSAs on the Academy’s Web site, at www.aaos.org. In addition to the PSA materials, you can also obtain a full complement of educational resources for your office, health fairs, schools, or any other forum where people need to learn about orthopaedic surgeons and musculoskeletal health. Soon, educational posters, showing the muscular and skeletal systems and designed for use in the classroom, will be available.

For a complete listing of free materials available through the AAOS public relations department, visit the AAOS Web site or contact Pat Julitz at julitz@aaos.org. All of the materials described in this article are offered at no cost to AAOS members.

Annie Hayashi is senior science writer for AAOS Now. She can be reached at hayashi@aaos.org