S. Terry Canale, MD


Published 3/1/2015
S. Terry Canale, MD

This Is Where I Came In

I have been involved with the AAOS since 1976 and have seen it, as a specialty society, become the best and remain the best over and over. So now it’s time for me to go, because this is where I came in—at the best part.

Since the 1970s, a lot of water has passed under the Rosemont bridge, but I have been a lucky guy. (After all, everyone has to be someplace!) I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be a part of some amazing beginnings: the Summer Institute, Sign Your Site, Communication Council, Leadership Fellows Program, Learning Center, and finally AAOS Now. I guess I am most proud of AAOS Now.

The AAOS leadership designated AAOS Now to be the Academy’s primary member publication and intended for it to compete with large commercial publishers of orthopaedic news. We went from 7th most-read orthopaedic news vehicle to the most-read nonclinical publication in just 6 years. Right now, AAOS Now isn’t far behind those “must-read” peer-reviewed publications, the Journal of the AAOS and The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

So how did a small staff of five compete against commercial publishers with much larger staffs? We did it with lots of help from a great editorial board—people like Frank B. Kelly, MD; Stuart Hirsch, MD, Michael F. Schafer, MD; Victor Goldberg, MD; Stephen A. Albanese, MD; and Howard R. Epps, MD—all of whom answered my original call and have stayed with the publication from the beginning. But they weren’t the only ones. AAOS Now has been lucky enough to count folks like Edward Akelman, MD; Thomas C. Barber, MD; Leon S. Benson, MD; Kevin J. Bozic, MD, MBA; John Cherf, MD, MPH, MBA; Denis R. Clohisy, MD; Nicholas DiNubile, MD; John K. Drake, MD; Evan Flatow, MD; Letha Y. Griffin, MD; Thomas Grogan, MD; David A. Halsey, MD; Alan S. Hilibrand, MD; Wellington Hsu, MD; Joshua J. Jacobs, MD; Wayne A. Johnson, MD; Alan M. Levine, MD; Valerae O. Lewis, MD; Douglas W. Lundy, MD; Stephen Makk, MD; Peter J. Mandell, MD; Samir Mehta, MD; John M. Purvis, MD; Roxanne Wallace, MD; Kristy L. Weber, MD; and Andrew M. Wong, MD, as members of its editorial board.

We also received countless editorial contributions from committee members and individual fellows of the AAOS, as well as from AAOS leadership. We had the support of the Board of Directors and the Academy staff, from CEO Karen L. Hackett, FACHE, CAE to Executive Editor Jake Jaquet. But the “buck” finally stops with a one-[wo]man show: Mary Ann Porucznik. She is what makes it all go. I tell Mary Ann that I only ask two things from her: don’t quit and don’t die before I do!

The Academy’s motives for establishing AAOS Now were simple: orthopaedists made the news and orthopaedists should report the news, not some commercial publisher. This has been accomplished. So now I have to go, because this is where I came in—at the best part.

Time flies when you’re having fun
Oh, I’m not leaving the orthopaedic office and going home to hibernate, but who needs a 74-year-old orthopaedist? People ask, “Dr. Canale, did you work with Dr. Campbell?” (He died in 1943.) When I was younger, patients would say to me, “You’re going to operate on me, right, not the resident?” Now they say, “Are you going to do the operation? Can the resident help?”

I’m at an age that I’m being operated on more often than I’m operating. I’ve had more propofol lately than Michael Jackson!

As you get older, time flies. It seems as if I’m eating breakfast every 20 minutes.

Who needs a 74-year-old orthopaedic surgeon? No one, not even a 74-year-old orthopaedic surgeon. So, I think it’s time to retire and avoid being like the aging athlete who sticks around for too long. I don’t have to be told it’s time to retire. I’ve already been told to stop operating, which was just as well because I was technically no longer a very good surgeon, so I know the feeling. But it still hurt. When you start hearing, “Are you still working?” or “I thought you had retired,” you should begin to get the message. Speaking of messages, I hate for anyone to say to me, “young man,” which implies that I’m an old man!

I often tell all those who will listen to retire early if they want a lifestyle change and to go in a different direction than orthopaedics, because after the age of 60, it’s tough to change directions and excel. On the other hand, if they stick with orthopaedics and don’t want to retire, they should look for a “lighter” job and slowly “gear down”: stop doing surgery (which will relieve a lot of stress), do office only, and don’t take emergency or night call. Instead they can do Worker’s Compensation, disability evaluations, research consulting, reviewing for journals, and even volunteering for humanitarian efforts such as Health Volunteers Overseas.

The psychology behind it
Many people are like me and don’t want to retire. It’s not always a good feeling to retire, especially if you really don’t want to. I have tried to analyze this, and I believe it’s all about fear, fear of the unknown.

Have you ever noticed that fear is always focused on the future, fear about something you’re not going to get or something you’re going to lose? But in reality, only about 25 percent of what you fear actually occurs. So, for me, not wanting to retire is tied to a fear of the unknown future. Also, when it’s not about the money, it’s about the money—losing the security of bringing home a monthly check. The thought of living on your 401K, Social Security, or whatever other savings you might have generates an insecure feeling—fear of the financial future.

Not wanting to retire is also not about losing the authority or control, but it is about not being needed. I have been in orthopaedics so long that, without a radiograph or a complete physical exam, just by the patient’s body language, I can “smell” an occult fracture from across the room. So wanting to stay involved in orthopaedics is also about being wanted and needed. It’s about feeling that after all these years of experience, you still have something to offer.

So with sadness, I tell you that this will be my last editorial. I’m sure some readers are thinking, “Thank God.” I hope other readers are thinking, “I’m going to miss those crazy columns.” I know I’m going to miss having this pulpit—I still have lots to say on just about any topic.

On the other hand, the future of AAOS Now is bright under the new leadership of Eeric Truumees, MD. He will take AAOS Now into a new dimension on the internet and AAOS will continue to be the “greatest orthopaedic show on earth.”

But now I have to go, because this is where I came in.

S. Terry Canale, MD, is editor-in-chief of AAOS Now. He can be reached at aaoscomm@aaos.org