Published 5/1/2008
William P. Cooney III, MD

Enhancing the “E” in OREF

Education grants enable innovative approaches to learning

Clinical and basic research has advanced the understanding of orthopaedic surgery principles and treatment applications. But applying those advancements clinically relies on educating orthopaedic surgeons, residents, fellows, and, indirectly, our patients. The Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) recognizes the importance of funding both educational and research activities.

Online education
Orthopaedists benefit from OREF funding of a wide range of educational projects, such as The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery’s (JBJS) Web-based educational enhancements of peer-reviewed scientific articles.

“I thought OREF would be a good place to apply for this grant because it is striving to fund worthwhile educational opportunities as well as research. This type of grant emphasizes the ‘E’ in OREF,” said JBJS editor James D. Heckman, MD.

In 2007, JBJS applied the OREF grant to Web-based advancements such as podcasts of current issue highlights, audio abstracts, commentaries by an orthopaedic surgeon, and two surgical technique videos.

“The commentaries are important because they provide perspective and help the reader to understand the context of the published article,” said Dr. Heckman. “They often point out weaknesses in the article and provide cautionary notes when appropriate.”

JBJS has added Self-Assessment Examinations (SAEs), approved by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, to its Web site. If completed successfully, the exams can count as 10 SAE credits toward the life-long learning component of the Maintenance of Certification™ process.

Other enhancements include video supplements based on published journal articles with the Video Journal of Orthopaedics and the AAOS, downloadable PowerPoint figures and tables, a search tool for both American and British volumes of JBJS and Medline, an electronic filing cabinet system, electronic letters to the editor, and an interactive image quiz enabling subscribers to determine a diagnosis based on a radiographic image.

Join the club
OREF also partners with JBJS to offer resident journal club grants. Journal clubs encourage orthopaedic residents to engage in and appreciate the value of basic and clinical research through regular review, analysis, and discussion of recent articles. OREF and JBJS have funded more than 245 journal clubs—providing more than $686,000 in support since 2001.

“The journal club grants give universities the opportunity to establish an educational activity that we hope will foster great discussion, generate future research questions, and ultimately lead to the development of new information that may improve patient care,” said Veronica Wadey, MD, an assistant professor in the department of surgery, division of orthopaedic surgery, University of Toronto. “It’s very well received.”

Present research findings
OREF Resident Research Symposia help orthopaedic residents sharpen their skills in presenting and defending research proposals. Held annually in multiple locations, the symposia give residents the chance to present their research papers and posters to a panel of experienced investigators and clinicians. The panels critique and rank the work, and top presenters receive financial awards.

The symposia also provide residents a forum in which they can listen to their colleagues, reflect, and freely discuss current trends in orthopaedics.

“I was impressed by the social experience,” said Peter G. Passias, MD, who won first place at the 2007 New England Symposium for his investigation on spinal imaging techniques. “It was beneficial for all of us to discuss controversial topics after hearing the research; I look back on it as one of the best days of my residency.”

Supported each year by one of OREF’s Corporate Associates, the symposia may also include guest speakers, practice management seminars, or poster competitions.

“It’s a good place to share ideas, and it encouraged me to continue with research,” said Harold J. Schock III, MD, whose research on diagnosing ankle fractures earned him first place in the clinical research category at the 2007 Midwest Symposium.

Department heads, resident coordinators, and residents are encouraged to attend the OREF Resident Research Symposia. The 2008 symposia were held in Chicago, New York City, and Akron, Ohio. Residents should direct questions about abstract submissions to their residency coordinators. Other questions may be directed to Mary Marino at marino@oref.org. Be sure to include your name, program/institution, program year, address, phone number, and e-mail address.

Write fundable grants
OREF also provides a hands-on program aimed at enhancing grant-writing skills. Applying the techniques learned at the program increases the probability of securing National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.

Since Richard A. Brand, MD, a former Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) president, developed the concept, 30 percent of the participants have received NIH funding. Nearly 40 individuals, including participants, invited observers, and faculty, attend each workshop. Faculty members have successfully achieved NIH funding and served on the various NIH review panels.

“The need for this workshop arose when we learned how few orthopaedic surgeons obtained NIH grants, and the amount of NIH funding for orthopaedic surgeons had decreased despite increases in available money,” said Dr. Brand, who chaired the workshops between 2000 and 2006. “We hope that eventually 50 to 100 orthopaedic surgeons will be principal investigators on such grants.”

The program is designed specifically for OREF grant recipients. ORS, OREF, and AAOS share the cost, waiving participant fees. Since collaborative funding began in 2000, the three organizations have hosted 11 workshops.

Attendees must prepare NIH-type grant proposals, which Regis J. O’Keefe, MD, current chair, assigns to faculty reviewers.

The reviewers read the proposals before the workshop begins. In the first session, lecturers review the elements of the grant proposal and how to effectively present them. In the second session, reviewers critique the grants in a mock NIH study section. In the final session, reviewers spend one-on-one time with the participants, helping to improve the proposal, and sometimes, long-term mentor relationships develop.

OREF Research Grant recipients, AAOS Clinician Scientist Development Program participants, and AAOS Clinician Scientist Traveling fellows also attend the program.

Enhance education
Do you know an orthopaedist who has an idea for an educational DVD-ROM, an information lecture, a symposium on a specific musculoskeletal condition, or other educational programs related to orthopaedics?

Encourage him or her to apply for an OREF Educational Grant, Hark Lectureship, or State Society Lectureship. Grant applications are available at www.oref.org/grants

From 1955 through Project Year 2008, OREF has funded nearly $88 million in research and education. To support OREF’s educational programs, such as those described in this article, contribute as I do to the Annual Campaign at www.oref.org/donate

William P. Cooney III, MD, is chair of the OREF Board of Trustees.