Since its inception in 2001, the AAOS International Surgical Skills Scholarships Program (ISSSP) has been committed to improving the quality of orthopaedic care to patients worldwide through physician education.
Now in its second decade, more than 20 ISSSP scholarships are available each year, up from four a year in 2001, and observership programs are offered at 40 sites across the country. To date, more than 68 orthopaedic surgeons from 36 countries have participated in the program.
Partners in orthopaedic education
“The overwhelming success of the ISSSP has enabled us to expand the number of scholarships provided each year,” said Stefano Alec Bini, MD, chair of the AAOS International Committee’s International Scholarship Project Team. “The scholarships are fully sponsored by a growing number of third-party partners such as orthopaedic specialty societies, foundations, international orthopaedic societies, medical groups, and individuals.”
These partners offer a variety of scholarship opportunities. For example, the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA) was the first U.S. specialty society to support the program and annually supports two arthroscopy scholars. Pietro M. Tonino, MD, AANA International Committee chairman, said that the AAOS-AANA scholarship provides “a wonderful opportunity for the scholar to be exposed to the newest techniques in arthroscopic surgery and to work with faculty who are world leaders in this field.”
Over the years, international orthopaedic societies involved in ISSSP have included the Sociedade Brasileira de Ortopedia e Traumatologia (SBOT), the Sociedad Española de Cirugía Ortopédica y Traumatología (SECOT), the Società Italiana di Artroscopia (SIA), Indonesian Orthopaedic Association (IOA) and Société Internationale de Chirurgie Orthopédique et de Traumatologie (SICOT). In 2012, SBOT is supporting three scholarships covering a wide range of specialties.
Private medical groups, individuals, and Foundations also contribute to the program. First offered in 2011, the annual AAOS–Stetson-Powell Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Scholarship supports one scholar specializing in arthroscopy. Additionally, the AAOS/Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine program is a country specific scholarship specially designed for surgeons in West Africa. Other 2013 scholarships are supported by the following groups:
- The Institute for Global Orthopaedics and Traumatology
- The Hospital for Special Surgery
- Mayo Clinic
- New England Baptist Hospital
- Newton-Wellesley Hospital
- New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases
- The Permanente Medical Group
How the program works
Scholarships are offered on a rotating basis to orthopaedic surgeons in one of four geographic regions of the world, as determined by the AAOS International Committee. Scholarship recipients must have a strong record of leadership roles or positions, a proven record of teaching either academically or within their professional organizations/healthcare community, a history of volunteering in their community, and a demonstrated commitment to improving patient care.
“In the selection process, the International Committee coordinates with international orthopaedic societies to identify recipients who are current and future leaders. In so doing we optimize the impact of the scholarships and establish long-lasting liaisons with those societies,” said Dr. Bini.
All recipients attend a surgical skills course of their choice offered through the AAOS Orthopaedic Learning Center (OLC) in Rosemont, Ill. Taught by leading U.S. orthopaedic surgeons, the 2-day cadaver courses offer a unique and in-depth balance of science and hands-on surgical skills practice. Following the course, the recipients take part in observership programs lasting 2 to 5 days at leading orthopaedic centers.
“We are also looking to expand the educational opportunities for scholars beyond traditional orthopaedic surgical skills,” added Dr. Bini. “In the near future we hope to offer courses in leadership coupled with direct in-person management experience in major U.S. medical centers.”
Praise for ISSSP
In March 2012, AAOS/AANA scholarship recipient Nils Erick Calderon, MD, of Bolivia, attended “New Horizons: Advances in Knee Surgery Ligament Focus” at the OLC. He then spent 2 days learning from Naomi Shields, MD, at Kansas Surgery and Recovery Center (KSRC) and Advanced Orthopaedic Associates in Wichita.
“The cadaver laboratory course was an excellent experience and my observership was incredible. I especially enjoyed observing surgeries with Dr. Shields and her colleagues—I was able to collaborate with them on the cases,” said Dr. Calderon.
Mohamed Abdelhameed Morsi, MD, of Egypt, had a similar experience in September 2011. “The AAOS/AANA scholarship was life-changing,” he said. “The cadaver training is the best you can get.”
Hosts also benefit from the experience, gaining insight into orthopaedic clinical practice overseas and building long-lasting relationships with the scholars.
“The observership program provides excellent opportunities for both the observer and the host,” said Michael Terry, MD, of Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Dr. Terry hosted 2011 AAOS-AANA scholarship recipient Oluwadare Esan, MD.
“My colleagues and I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Dr. Esan and share clinical medicine, educational experiences, and research with him,” he said. “It is an honor to host recipients of the scholarship —it was an extremely enjoyable and educational experience. We have set in motion what I hope will be a long-term international relationship.”
Each scholarship in the ISSSP covers air travel, lodging, food, and course enrollment, and includes a small stipend. In addition AAOS provides one-year international membership in AAOS, publications and educational materials, comprehensive logistic support, and ongoing alumni services.
For more information about the ISSSP, including an online application for 2013 scholarships, visit www.aaos.org/internationalscholarship
Maureen Leahy is assistant managing editor of AAOS Now. She can be reached at email@example.com
ISSSP welcomes your support
By supporting the ISSSP, orthopaedic surgeons can help foster educational partnerships in emerging markets and raise scholarship recipients to a new level of expertise. AAOS members can participate in the ISSSP in a number of ways—by sponsoring a named scholarship, hosting an observership, or working with a local orthopaedic society to support a scholarship. To learn more about the AAOS ISSSP, including how to become a program contributor or observership sponsor, email firstname.lastname@example.org