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The Technical Exhibits at the AAOS Annual Meeting are just one of the many places “outside the confines of the conference room” where residents can be exposed to the many facets of orthopaedics.


Published 7/1/2011
Mary Ann Porucznik

Residents praise Annual Meeting

“Not only the how, but also the why”

“Overwhelming,” “unforgettable,” “exciting,” “a complete success”—residents attending the 2011 AAOS Annual Meeting in San Diego used these words to describe their experiences. And although many fellows might agree with their assessments, residents do bring a different perspective to the events.

For Derek Amanatullah, MD, of the University of California–Davis, the meeting was both inspiring and challenging. As a first-time poster presenter, Dr. Amanatullah was excited about contributing to the content of the meeting. But at the Resident Liaison Committee meeting, he found the updates on the new Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education guidelines on work duty hours “deeply concerning and borderline threatening to the current education of residents and the training of future orthopaedic surgeons.”

Networking is an important aspect of any orthopaedic meeting, as Alexander E. Weber, MD, of the University of Michigan, discovered. “As a junior resident,” he said, “I found that there was as much to learn outside the confines of the conference rooms as there was to learn within.”

The breadth of learning opportunities impressed Nicholas Kenney, MD, of the University of Florida, who found the Annual Meeting “shattered a myopic view of orthopaedic surgery and encouraged a renewed focus on continual improvement.” During the Instructional Course Lectures (ICLs) he attended, he said, “I was able to learn technical tricks for difficult situations, but even more importantly, I began to understand the underlying thought processes, answering not only how but also why.”

As a first-time attendee, Mark Morrey, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, described his initial impression as “a bit like trying to take a drink of water from a fire hydrant.” As a result, he advises those who will be attending their first Annual Meeting in San Francisco in 2012 to “take some time away from the hubbub and carefully look over the list of events to strategically plan meeting days to ensure you get the most out of the experience.”

Patrick W. O’Donnell, MD, PhD, made the most of his experience. “As a resident liaison to the AAOS, without the pressure of research presentation, I was able to enjoy this year’s meeting to the fullest.”

But Dr. O’Donnell did more than just enjoy the venue, food, presentations, networking, and exhibits. “The highlight of this year’s meeting was my ability to solidify a faculty position after finishing training,” he said. “While I went to San Diego confident of my chosen career path, I left convinced that my family and I were making the correct decision.”

Holtz was a hit
Residents also were inspired by keynote speaker Lou Holtz. “His presentation brought laughter, inspiration, and a challenge to continually focus on the gravity of our position—being entrusted with our patients’ lives,” said Dr. Kenney.

“Lou Holtz’s speech was a highlight of the meeting for me,” agreed Dr. Amanatullah. “I found it simultaneously humorous, motivating, and grounding.”

In the end, however, it seemed that the total experience of the Annual Meeting had the most impact.

“I was amazed at how well organized everything—from registration to travel to and from the convention center—was,” said Dr. Morrey. “I could not help but think about what a logistical nightmare it must have been to put everything together—from the posters and educational exhibits to the scientific presentations, ICLs, and presidential addresses. All of the events went off without a hitch, which is a testament to the leadership and organization of our Academy,” he said.

“I can honestly say that nothing motivates a young resident to work harder clinically and conduct more research than seeing the productivity at the Annual Meeting,” said Dr. Weber. “I’m really looking forward to attending again next year.”

“Thanks to my experiences at Annual Meeting, I am renewing my efforts in self-development to provide the best possible care to my patients,” agreed Dr. Kenney.

And although Dr. Morrey lamented “I didn’t have enough slots in the day to see everything,” he was also “truly inspired to continue to read and to question how I treat my future patients.”

Mary Ann Porucznik is managing editor of AAOS Now. She can be reached at