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Duretti T. Fufa, MD, benefited from an OREF Medical Student Summer Orthopaedic Research Fellowship.

AAOS Now

Published 4/1/2008
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William P. Cooney III, MD

Keeping the “E” in OREF

How OREF Educational Grants give orthopaedic surgeons the opportunity to excel

Clinical and basic research have helped advance our understanding of principles and treatment applications in orthopaedic surgery. But to advance clinical application of those advancements, research must be coupled with education. Since 1955, the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) has recognized the importance of funding educational activities in addition to research.

Fellows and lecturers
OREF funds many lectureships and fellowships within orthopaedic surgery to provide orthopaedists with opportunities to learn more about advances in diagnosis, imaging, and surgical techniques, as well as the business practices that affect our specialty.

The Fred W. Hark, MD, and William A. Hark, MD, Lectureship, for example, provides funding for lectures on topics of educational interest to orthopaedic surgeons. Dr. Fred Hark created these awards, which were named after him and his son, by establishing a special fund within the OREF Endowment. The fund interest is distributed annually as lectureship awards—more than 130, totaling $322,500 since the fund was established in 1982. At Dr. Hark’s death, his wife, Florence W. Hark, MD, continued to support the fund so that more lectureships may be awarded.

OREF’s State Orthopaedic Society Awards also provide funding for educational programs. The awards support resident award competitions and an honorarium for speakers at state society annual meetings.

“When I received the grant from OREF, it was given to the Idaho Orthopaedic Society for education, emphasizing the important ‘E’ in OREF. We used the grant to help fund a speaker for our annual meeting,” said Lynn C. McGlothin, MD, about the Idaho State Society Lectureship Grant. “Our annual meeting has been well attended and I felt that the money was well spent to advance orthopaedic education in Idaho.”

Other State Society Lectureship Grants have funded lecture topics such as “Current diagnostic strategies and treatments for hip and knee joint reconstruction,” “Legal perspectives on liability reform, trauma, and practice management,” and “Overview of state and federal medical, legal, and governmental issues.” Established in 1989, the State Lectureship Awards, sponsored by gifts to OREF for educational grants, have provided $342,000 in educational funding.

Medical students are another important component of OREF’s education equation. The Medical Student Summer Orthopaedic Research Fellowship enables medical students considering a career in orthopaedics to gain experience in basic, clinical, or translational research. In this program, medical students identify an investigator with an ongoing orthopaedic research project who is willing to mentor and accept the student as a research assistant. In the last 10 years, OREF has awarded 56 Medical Student Fellowships, totaling $140,000.

“I had the opportunity to work with a brilliant physician-scientist and role model, which strengthened my desire to enter orthopaedics,” said Duretti T. Fufa, MD, who received the fellowship in 2003 and is now a second-year orthopaedic surgery resident at the Hospital for Special Surgery. “My experience helped me be a stronger applicant for residency. More importantly, it provided me with fundamental exposure to asking—and answering—clinical questions using sound, scientific principles.”

Easing pain
Recently, OREF hosted a survey that sought to summarize trends in pain management for orthopaedic procedures and ailments. Through a collaboration between OREF and the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA), combined with an educational grant from Pfizer Inc, the Pain Management Initiative survey asked orthopaedists to share which pain management therapies, technologies, and techniques they use. Preliminary results from more than 500 completed surveys were presented to an AOA Advisory Panel of orthopaedic surgeons specializing in total joint replacement (TJR), sports medicine, and spine surgery. The online survey remained active for several months after the presentation to gather additional data.

Questions covered practice patterns in pain management for patients who had TJR, sports medicine, or spine-related surgery. The survey also aimed to identify areas in musculoskeletal pain management that warrant additional research and education.

A highlights report based on survey responses was distributed with OREF’s November/December 2007 newsletter Impact and the winter edition of AOA News; it can be downloaded from the OREF Web site. The highlights report includes information on the following topics:

  • Which pain management modalities surgeons prefer to use
  • How satisfied surgeons are with their pain therapy options
  • Which sources orthopaedic surgeons turn to for information on particular pain therapies or medications
  • Factors that influence surgeons’ willingness to switch to new products or therapies
  • Which emerging technologies surgeons believe hold the most promise as pain management therapies

Teaching new generations
Through the years, OREF Educational Grants have supported activities such as clinical consensus conferences, workshops, symposia, and the research and development of educational electronic media. Other OREF-funded educational programs range from lectures on careers in orthopaedic surgery to topical issues such as gene therapy in rheumatology and grant writing workshops and research symposia.

As vice chair of development for OREF, I invite you to support these educational programs, as I do, by contributing to the annual campaign at www.oref.org/donate

William P. Cooney III, MD, is chair-elect and vice chair, development for OREF.