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Published 6/1/2016
Maureen Leahy

Medical Students' Program Debuts at Annual Meeting

Enhances students' exposure to orthopaedics
Each year, the AAOS Annual Meeting provides outstanding learning opportunities for orthopaedic professionals at every stage of their careers. At the 2016 Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., AAOS introduced a new educational program focused specifically on medical students. Developed in collaboration with the AAOS Annual Meeting Committee, Diversity Advisory Board (DAB), and other stakeholders, the AAOS Medical Students' Program was designed to assist in building medical students' awareness of orthopaedics and the AAOS, while strengthening the pipeline of diverse and qualified individuals.

"The catalyst for the Medical Students' Program was the desire to create an opportunity for medical students to learn more about our profession," explained Mary I. O'Connor, MD, chair of the DAB.

"We knew it would be an excellent way to increase exposure to orthopaedics, particularly among women and underrepresented students," she added.

Dr. O'Connor and Jason Scalise, MD, of the AAOS Annual Meeting Committee, co-led the half-day program, which featured lectures, question and answer sessions, and panel discussions.

In addition, attendees also had access to all complimentary Annual Meeting educational sessions, the technical exhibit hall, and an Instructional Course Lecture of their choice.

How to ace the interview
According to Bonnie Simpson-Mason, MD, preparation is critical to a successful interview for an orthopaedic residency position. Dr. Simpson-Mason is executive director of Nth Dimensions, a partner organization of the AAOS/DAB.

"Nothing demonstrates disinterest faster than a candidate who has not done his or her research," she said during her presentation on "The Dos and Don'ts of Interviewing."

"In this Internet age," she added, "there really is no reason why a candidate should show up to an interview without having researched the program, the hospital, residents, faculty, and staff."

Dr. Simpson-Mason also stressed the importance of being on time.

"Punctuality is an oft forgotten aspect of the interview, but being late can quickly derail an interview," she cautioned. "As one of my mentors once told me, 'Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.'"

In addition, medical students need to keep in mind that every interaction with a residency program is a part of the interview process, Dr. Simpson-Mason noted.

"From the time a candidate notifies a residency program of his or her interest, he or she must treat everyone associated with the program professionally," recommended Dr. Simpson-Mason.

What to expect during residency
During his presentation, "Life as an Orthopaedic Surgery Resident," Jeremy M. Burnham, MD, a PGY-5 resident at the University of Kentucky and chair of the 2016–2017 AAOS Resident Assembly, provided insight into a resident's typical day, and also shared some pearls and pitfalls.

"Keys to success during residency include more than hard work, time management, conscientious behavior, and repetitions in the operating room. Residents must also be coachable," said Dr. Burnham. "Much of the learning during residency includes constructive criticism and critiques from attending surgeons, nurses, and other members of the healthcare team. Learning to respond appropriately to this feedback is crucial to a resident's growth," he noted.

Dr. Burnham also stressed the importance of regular exercise, building camaraderie with coresidents and other healthcare team members, having a support system, altruism, and speaking regularly with a mentor.

"These activities have all been shown in the literature to help prevent burnout and improve well-being during surgical training," he asserted.

"Although frequently overlooked," he continued, "they are vital to helping residents reach their full potential over a 5-year training program."

Great program!
Other presentations during the Medical Students' Program included advice and tips on how to build clinical skills, the importance of research, and how to create an effective curriculum vitae. Overall, feedback from the program's attendees was extremely positive. Some of the many comments included the following:

  • "A dynamic event that will help me plan the next steps to becoming an orthopaedic surgeon."
  • "I really enjoyed the program. It provided great guidance and preparation tools."
  • "It was an amazing experience. Extremely informative."
  • "The panel was excellent and each presenter did a great job explaining what we can do to be successful in orthopaedics."
  • "Very good program with a wide variety of applicable information. Should be continued in the future."

"The turnout for our inaugural program was fantastic and comments from the students were incredibly strong and overwhelmingly in favor of continuing the program," asserted Dr. O'Connor. "Our planning team is already working on next year's program in which we hope to incorporate skills sessions—including a mini sawbones workshop."

Building on this year's success, the Medical Students' Program will ideally become a permanent part of the AAOS Annual Meeting—one that provides a valuable and cohesive experience for medical students.

Additional participants in the AAOS Medical Students' Program were R. Carter Cassidy, MD; Jonathan Grauer, MD; Ann Van Heest, MD; Richard E. Grant, MD; Mark Gonzalez, MD; MaCalus Hogan, MD; and Dawn LaPorte, MD.

Maureen Leahy is assistant managing editor of AAOS Now. She can be reached at leahy@aaos.org