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Published 9/1/2008
Mark Wieting

AAOS announces Center for Orthopaedic Advancement

At its June meeting, the AAOS Board of Directors voted to establish a new not-for-profit entity—the Center for Orthopaedic Advancement. Initially, the Center’s role will be to solicit and receive funds from industry and elsewhere, to receive and review grant requests from orthopaedic organizations, and to make grants to the best education programs that need funding.

“Establishing the Center gives us some flexibility we have not had in the past,” said Tony Rankin, MD, AAOS president. “Although as a 501(c)(3) organization the Academy has received contributions from industry and individuals over the years, we did not have a focal point for the activity within AAOS.

“We’ve had a long-standing, productive relationship with the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF), and that will continue,” said Dr. Rankin. “More than 1,400 AAOS members support OREF at the Order of Merit level, which is tremendous. We have worked closely with OREF to secure industry funding for many of our research and education programs.

“In discussions with a number of orthopaedic companies that support educational programs with grants, however, it became clear that several of them were seeking a new means to fund worthy educational programs. They sought an organization with a governance structure that is completely free of any potential conflicts of interest.”

No conflicts permitted
As a result, he said, an organization was needed that is separate from AAOS and has its own board of directors, the members of which may not have had conflicts of interest with industry for at least the past 3 years.

“Conflicts of interest take many forms and are broadly defined in the current era of transparency,” said Karen L. Hackett, FACHE, CAE, the Academy’s chief executive officer. “Some companies have told us that they intend to fund educational programs—whether they carry continuing medical education credits or not—through an entity that can guarantee that conflict of interest is never involved in decisions about which programs get the financial support. The Center for Orthopaedic Advancement is a response to that new reality of educational funding in orthopaedics.”

The Center has been incorporated in Illinois and has applied for 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status with the Internal Revenue Service. As the Center becomes operational this fall, a board of directors will be selected from applicants through the Academy’s Committee Appointment Program on the AAOS Web site (see “Board members sought for new Center,” below).

Operational model
The early role of the Center will be to establish policies and review grant applications from orthopaedic specialty societies, regional societies, and other organizations. By early 2008, the Center will have its own committees to review grant applications, and grants will be made based on a set of criteria that reward balance and an evidence-based approach. The Center will also advance other recommendations in the Institute of Medicine’s report, Crossing the Quality Chasm—patient-centered care, interdisciplinary teams, quality improvement, racial and ethnic disparities, and informatics.

All organizations that have received money from industry directly in the past will have an interest in the new Center. It will be the Center’s goal to equitably assess grant requests from these societies and to determine appropriate levels of support given the finite number of dollars available to support education in orthopaedics. The primary purpose of many orthopaedic specialty societies is education of their members. Many of the specialty societies and associations depend on funding from industry to meet their educational goals. The challenge to the Center will be to provide clear, high standards for funding support, while at the same time ensuring that all worthy organizations receive needed support to the extent it is available.

“We’ve put this on the fast track,” said Dr. Rankin, “because the need is there and we want to respond. The Center for Orthopaedic Advancement will be independent, but in the AAOS family, serving all orthopaedic surgeons and the patients we treat.”

Mark Wieting is the AAOS chief education officer. He can be reached at wieting@aaos.org

Board members sought for new Center
The Center for Orthopaedic Advancement will be governed by a seven-person board of directors, appointed by the AAOS Board of Directors, and selected using, but not limited to, the following criteria:

  • Wide knowledge of and experience within the orthopaedic community
  • Interest in, understanding of, and participation in orthopaedic continuing medical education
  • No personal or institutional relationship with a specific orthopaedic device or pharmaceutical manufacturer, currently or for the past 3 years

Board members will be knowledgeable about orthopaedic education, representative of the various specialty activities in orthopaedics, and committed to improving orthopaedic patient care through education.

During the start-up phase, the AAOS Board of Directors will select the Center’s first board of directors and populate its review committees, choosing from among applicants in the AAOS online application system more commonly used for selecting committee members.

If you meet the criteria and would be interested in serving on the Center’s board, apply at www.aaos.org/cap (member log-in required).