The Muscle Molly postcard and poster are fun to use in educating children.


Published 1/1/2011
Michael F. Schafer, MD

Take a step in the right direction in 2011

Use free public relations materials to help educate your patients

It’s only the beginning of the year, yet many of our calendars are already filling up with consultations and surgeries. As physicians, we have a responsibility to educate our patients. Consequently, many busy AAOS members also add speaking engagements, public presentations, or addresses at community health fairs to their busy calendars.

Preparing for these events takes time, and AAOS can help by providing free public relations materials for you to use in your offices and during presentations. Whatever shape your public education program takes, the following AAOS materials will enhance it.

Several publications are available for your reception areas including three beautiful soft-cover, full-color coffee table books on the specialty of orthopaedics: Moving Stories: Seventy-five Years of Orthopaedic Surgery; eMotion Pictures: An Exhibition of Orthopaedics in Art; and Wounded in Action: An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements.

The AAOS award-winning films Moving Pictures and Wounded in Action: Legacy of Heroes are also available. These stunning visual displays of the history of orthopaedics can be shared with your patients, colleagues, and the public in your reception area or anywhere you have DVD capability.

Traveling exhibits
To promote injury prevention, bring the Prevent Injuries America!® patient education booth to health fairs and local events. The exhibit includes panels on falls prevention, patient safety, wrong-site surgery, osteoporosis, avoiding a hip fracture, knowing when it’s time for joint replacement, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety, youth sports injury prevention, and more.

Bookmarks and brochures are a great resource for reception areas, local speaking engagements, and community health fairs. Current offerings include Osteoporosis Prevention for Adults and Children and Patient Safety is No Accident bookmarks, and the brochure Orthopaedic Surgeons: Who Are They And What Do They Do?

Public service announcements
Every year since 2000, the AAOS has been creating a wide variety of public service announcements (PSAs) on topics ranging from falls prevention to distracted driving to patient-physician communication. PSAs are distributed to television, cable, radio, print outlets, and airports nationwide. Several are available in Spanish.

The following ideas are just a few of the ways you can use these materials:

  • Begin with your own office or hospital. Frame the posters and hang them in your patient reception and examination rooms.
  • Use the images electronically in combination with your presentations; send the postcards as invitations to your public education presentations, or distribute them at your speaking engagements with appropriate health tips printed on the back.
  • Distribute posters or postcards at public events, your local library, veterans’ office, senior centers, schools, merchants, health clubs, day care centers, health fairs, or other community events.
  • Use the postcards as appointment reminders, direct mail pieces, or handouts to patients.
  • Mail the postcards as thank you notes, or send them to media after an interview with a brief follow-up note.
  • Send the postcards or posters along with a personal note to your state legislators or local officials to educate them about issues relating to orthopaedics.
  • Distribute the materials to staff at your clinics, hospitals, and universities.

Boney Ben and Muscle Molly
These two engaging characters were created with the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) to educate young patients and school-age children about their bones and muscles. Bring these posters or postcards along to hand out to students when speaking about bones and muscles at an elementary school.

Tool kits
The following online tool kits topics are available as step-by-step-guides: the Public Service Announcements Tool Kit, the Public Relations and Media Relations Manual, and the OMG! Communications Tool Kit.

To view the AAOS public relations department’s brochure in its entirety, and for information on how to order materials, visit aaos.org/prresources

Michael F. Schafer, MD, chairs the AAOS Communications Cabinet. He can be reached at mschafer@nmff.org

Tip of the Bone
Medical experts are often called upon by the media for physician commentary. With the Annual Meeting 2011 rapidly approaching, several orthopaedic topics will be featured in the mainstream consumer press. You may receive a call from the media asking for commentary on new musculoskeletal research, studies, and technology. Before conducting an interview with any reporter, be sure you are well prepared for such an interview. AAOS offers the following tips:

  • Write down three or four key messages and refer to them during the phone interview.
  • Don’t simply answer questions with a “yes” or “no.” Make sure to offer additional details to support your messages. Include “for more information on {insert topic}, visit orthoinfo.org
  • Relax and speak naturally.
  • Define any medical terms that are typically used as professional jargon.
  • Do the interview in a quiet spot where you will not be interrupted.
  • If you are not comfortable with the topic, please refer the reporter to the AAOS public relations department where staff will find them an appropriate interview source.

The AAOS public relations department can be reached via e-mail at media@aaos.org or by phone at (847) 823-7186.