This edition of AAOS Now addresses a topic that is both the foundation and a major focus of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons this year: physician education and life-long learning.


Published 5/1/2007
James H. Beaty, MD

Across the President's Desk

Education was the original purpose of our Academy and is what we are all about. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with other orthopaedic societies and associations, and I’ve seen how the AAOS serves as a role model for continuing medical education (CME) for all of medicine. I believe that our CME offerings are among the highest quality in the world, and the Academy offers thousands of opportunities for life-long learning, ranging from the AAOS Annual Meeting and courses at the Orthopaedic Learning Center, to online CME, publications, and comprehensive review courses.

Improving physician education
The Academy is a leader in physician education, but this field is constantly changing and increasingly competitive. Academy CME programs face competition from orthopaedic industry, many private offerings, and university proposals, as well as from other orthopaedic organizations.

At this critical time, the AAOS leadership is reviewing and assessing all options available to us to improve our education program during the next decade. At a workshop in December, we put our current offerings “under the microscope” to lay the groundwork for collaborative efforts and future changes. (You can read about the results of this workshop on page 15.)

One of these collaborative efforts will focus on coordinating with orthopaedic specialty societies. We want to work together on our cosponsored courses, recognizing

that the annual meeting for each specialty society must remain the “crown jewel” of its education programs, much as the AAOS Annual Meeting is for all of orthopaedics.

In addition, we are continuing a very meaningful dialogue with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery on how the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program will affect the practicing orthopaedic surgeons in our Academy and what we can do within the AAOS to assist the practicing orthopaedic surgeon in fulfilling the MOC process. One step is to help ensure that fellows understand the requirements, so the article on page 13 focuses on the specific MOC requirements for the initial class of 2010.

Other changes are also underway, including an expansion of our educational offerings for both Board preparation and MOC.

Shifting from CME to CPD
All of these steps underscore the importance of shifting physician education from a CME model to a CPD model. CPD, or Continuous Professional Development, is more than just a skills-based effort. In essence, physician education will evolve from being “teacher”-driven to self-directed, learner-driven professional competency.

CPD programs may include didactic lectures, but they will also incorporate many other learning experiences that are driven by the student’s realistic self-assessments of his or her competencies.

Orthopaedic surgeons tend to migrate toward education courses and offerings in which we already have a high interest and knowledge base. That may be the natural outcome of specialization within orthopaedics. We need, however, to maintain our primary knowledge base as orthopaedic surgeons while we continue our education as specialists—and that is the function of CPD-based learning models.

An exciting future
As the Academy’s physician education programs evolve, I believe they will become more exciting and engaging. We will see multiple varieties of learning formats—multi-media, surgical skills, increasing use of the Internet, and small regional groups for learning—in addition to our Annual Meeting.

The model for the future will move toward continuous professional development that is learner-centered, covers a range of professional topics that extend even beyond clinical activities, and is tailored and customized for and by each of us based on personal self-assessment.

I urge each of you to commit yourself to personal life-long learning for your own professional career and for improved patient care. By moving from CME to CPD, your Academy will be in the forefront of this endeavor and ready to support you.

My personal thanks to all of you for your kind comments as I begin this year’s leadership on behalf of the AAOS. I look forward to serving all of you in our profession and will do so to my best abilities.