In addition to providing high-quality musculoskeletal care, orthopaedic surgeons can contribute to the well-being of their communities by drawing attention to the sports, activities, habits, and risk factors that may contribute to bone and joint conditions and injuries.
One way to do this is through a letter to the editor or a written opinion to your local newspaper. Examples of orthopaedic opinion topics include the following:
- a specific orthopaedic condition or injury that you see frequently (or are seeing more of) in your practice. In many cases, you may be able to provide patient tips and resources based on information from the ANationinMotion.org or OrthoInfo.org websites
- the dangers of distracted walking and “digital deadwalkers,” as well as motorcycle and diving safety, as highlighted in the 2015 AAOS public service campaign (www.aaos.org/psa)
- distracted driving prevention and the AAOS Decide to Drive campaign (www.decidetodrive.org)
- tips for preventing falls in the home, from the AAOS Falls Prevention Guide
- other seasonal and activity-specific safety tips highlighted in the Prevent Injuries America (PIA) campaign
Sample letters to the editor are available, by topic, in the “Member Resources” section of the AAOS Newsroom (http://newsroom.aaos.org).
As with any public relations effort, timing is key. For example, messages on distracted driving or diving precautions may be especially appropriate just before the start of summer break, while those on protecting bones and joints during fall clean-up would be well received in September or October; and tips for avoiding joint and muscle injuries while shoveling snow should be submitted at the onset of winter.
Before sending a letter, visit your local newspaper’s website to see if the publication has specific parameters—such as a word count limit—for submitting a letter or opinion, as well as an email address, fax number, and/or an online submission form.
During the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference at the JW Marriot in Washington, D.C., the AAOS honored 24 distinguished journalists at the annual Media Orthopaedic Reporting Excellence (MORE) Awards ceremony (www.aaos.org/moreawards). The MORE Awards are given each year to journalists who demonstrate excellence by accurately reporting on orthopaedics while fostering public awareness of musculoskeletal health issues.
This year’s 24 MORE Award winners are a diverse group of health and medical writers, producers, and freelance reporters from print, broadcast, and online media outlets. Entries were judged by a distinguished panel of orthopaedic surgeons, who evaluated them for overall quality, accuracy, and effectiveness in promoting greater awareness of musculoskeletal health issues. The 2015 MORE Award winners included reporters and producers from ESPN, ABCNews.com, AARP the Magazine, the Washington Post, USA Today, Detroit Free Press, Orlando Sentinel, St. Louis Post Dispatch, and National Public Radio (NPR).
“The Academy recognizes and honors journalists who educate the public about issues and trends in bone and joint health,” said AAOS President David D. Teuscher, MD, during the ceremony. “This year’s winning stories highlight lifesaving and life-changing advances in orthopaedics, as well as more common orthopaedic conditions and the treatments that are helping patients to resume active, healthy lives.”
The MORE Awards are open to all journalists, freelance writers, and editors in print, broadcast, or online media. The 2016 competition details will be posted at www.aaos.org/moreawards in late June.
Alan S. Hilibrand, MD, chairs the AAOS Communications Cabinet.