“I chose to become an orthopaedic surgeon for the opportunity to restore patient function and improve lives,” said Frederick M. Azar, MD, who assumed the presidency of the AAOS during the Ceremonial Meeting at the 2014 AAOS Annual Meeting. “Nothing else in medicine comes remotely close to what we as orthopaedic surgeons do.”
Dr. Azar’s passion for orthopaedics is the driving force behind his commitment to lead the Academy in the year ahead.
An Academy volunteer for 20 years, Dr. Azar takes the helm during a historic time in health care, and particularly, orthopaedics.
“Our organization is undergoing several paradigm shifts. Market-transformative changes are taking place not just in health care with the Affordable Care Act, but in all of our core areas, including education, advocacy, and practice operations,” he said.
His presidential goals include leveraging the paradigm shifts occurring in these areas, with special focus on education and communications.
“All eyes may be on Washington, D.C., but we can’t ignore our core competencies of education and communication,” Dr. Azar stressed. “Education is a fundamental tenet of the Academy; it is critical that we keep pace with the learning needs and patterns of our members. Residents, especially, want information with just one click. We are transitioning to that type of learning,” he said. “We are also expanding our electronic media platform of mobile apps, ebooks, webinars, and webcasts.
“In addition, the new AAOS headquarters will have a state-of-the-art Orthopaedic Learning Center with the most advanced modular capabilities available, Internet 2.0, and all the latest technologies that will enable us to conduct distance learning, hold simultaneous courses, and provide objective, peer-reviewed, nonbiased skills training. All of these things will contribute to the lifelong learning of our members.”
On the communications side, many patients are not aware of the full scope of what orthopaedic surgeons do, Dr. Azar noted. “Communication with patients about what we do and the value that we provide to society is extremely important. And that applies to other areas, such as quality and advocacy. We want our patients to know what we do and we want them to be able to advocate for us,” he explained.
“Our public relations department and Communications Cabinet have done yeoman’s work in this area, especially with the A Nation in Motion® campaign,” Dr. Azar added. “A compilation of moving patient and surgeon stories, the campaign showcases the value orthopaedics brings to the lives of millions of patients each year.”
AAOS is also committed to helping orthopaedic surgeons navigate the changes taking place in practice management. “Just as politics are local, so is healthcare delivery,” Dr. Azar said. “As the needs of orthopaedic practices continue to evolve, we as an organization will continue to support all of our members in meeting the challenges of the Affordable Care Act, Meaningful Use Phase 2, and ICD-10.”
Another paradigm shift is occurring with respect to advocacy, noted Dr. Azar. “Orthopaedic surgeons are familiar with legislative advocacy, but we also have to be aware of what is happening on the regulatory side. We can be proud of what the office of government relations and Council of Advocacy have accomplished in both those areas.”
He added, “Although the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC) is the number one health professional PAC, it only has 28 percent membership participation. That is an area in which I would like to see us improve.
“These are unprecedented times in medicine and I believe that we as orthopaedic surgeons will be judged collectively about how we respond to these times. My hope is that as healthcare delivery reform is instituted, patients will continue to have access to our expertise and that we will always do the right thing for our patients and our profession,” he said.
“It was a pleasure, privilege, and honor to work side-by-side with Joshua Jacobs, MD, this past year. I look forward in the coming year to further guiding the AAOS to think strategically down the road, accomplish our goals, and maintain the professionalism in our profession,” Dr. Azar summarized.
Education and background
Dr. Azar is chief of staff at the Campbell Clinic, and a professor and director of the sports medicine fellowship program in the University of Tennessee-Campbell Clinic department of orthopaedic surgery. He was also director of the department’s residency program for 10 years.
Dr. Azar is the team physician for the NBA Memphis Grizzlies and was selected as the 2012 Team Physician of the Year. He also serves as a team physician for the University of Memphis and Christian Brothers University sports teams.
After earning his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine, Dr. Azar completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Tennessee-Campbell Clinic and a fellowship in sports medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Ala. He was also an American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) Traveling Fellow.
Dr. Azar is active in numerous national and international groups and professional societies including the AOSSM, the Arthroscopy Association of North America, and the American Orthopaedic Association. A long-time Academy volunteer, Dr. Azar was a graduate of the inaugural AAOS Leadership Fellows Program class in 2003. He has held numerous positions in the AAOS, including that of treasurer.
Dr. Azar is an active participant in a number of community philanthropic organizations and serves on the Board of Directors of ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Hospital. He was part of the Haiti disaster relief team in 2010.
Dr. Azar and his wife, Julie, have two children, Isabel and Nicholas.
Maureen Leahy is assistant managing editor of AAOS Now. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
2014 Annual Meeting Video Presentation
Frederick M. Azar, MD, Incoming President