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Published 11/1/2015
Chad A. Krueger, MD

AAOS Advocacy Profile: Nicholas A. Bonazza, MD

Dr. Krueger: Can you share some background about yourself? What is your story?

Dr. Bonazza: I completed medical school at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. I am planning to pursue a fellowship in sports medicine and a career that includes being active in orthopaedic leadership, an important part of which is advocacy. Of course, living in Washington during medical school meant I was bombarded with political commentary on the radio every day. Other than that, my official introduction to advocacy was probably similar to that of many residents.

Dr. Krueger: How did you become interested in advocacy?

Dr. Bonazza: In medical school, we had a small group lecture that introduced us to health policy, but it seemed to be a remote aspect of medicine that would not have a direct impact on me or my ability to practice medicine on a daily basis. My view changed more recently, however, as I saw more and more articles in AAOS publications, as well as in the national media, that focused on the plethora of changes in health care.

As I read these articles, I realized that I knew very little about the many healthcare decisions being made. I also realized that these decisions would have a dramatic impact on how I and other orthopaedic residents will practice the profession in the future. I felt I needed to get involved in some way and I believed the best place to start was to get informed.

I began reading more about the health policy initiatives of the AAOS and how I could take a more active part. When I was selected to represent our residency program in the newly formed AAOS Resident Assembly (RA) this past spring, I decided to join the RA Health Policy Committee to learn more about the AAOS efforts in Washington and how I could get other residents involved.

Dr. Krueger: What are some of the challenges that prohibit other residents from getting involved?

Dr. Bonazza: As a resident, I know how difficult it is for my colleagues to find time to pursue advocacy and I realize that many of the issues seem insignificant at this point in our careers. However, it is important to realize that each day decisions are being made that, despite seeming inconsequential at the time, may directly affect how we practice orthopaedics in the future. Because of this, I think we all have a role in advocating for the issues we face today and for the future of our profession.

My goal in advocacy at this point is to draw more resident attention to the issues facing both orthopaedic residents and orthopaedic surgery as a whole, so that we—the next generation of orthopaedic surgeons—can be informed and actively involved in the decisions that will affect our profession.

Dr. Krueger: What can be done to increase resident awareness and, ultimately, involvement?

Dr. Bonazza: I believe advocacy starts with education, especially for residents who already have an interest. I would advise them to seek out information on the issues affecting orthopaedic surgeons and residents. Find something you are passionate about and then find people, either in your region, your state orthopaedic society, or the AAOS, who are working on that same issue and see how you can help.

Even residents who are not interested in being involved directly can support those who are advocating on their behalf. Again, we all have a responsibility to ensure that we are a part of the decisions being made in Washington—as well as all over the country—that will shape the future of our profession and ultimately how we are able to care for our patients.

Chad A. Krueger, MD, is the current Resident PAC Fellow. He can be reached at cak0705@gmail.com