From left, Drs. Tonino, Anh, and Sweeney during the 2017 AANA Resident/Fellow Course: Fundamentals in Arthroscopy.
Courtesy of Emily Douglas/AAOS Staff


Published 5/1/2017
Maureen Leahy

AAOS Education in Vietnam

Visiting faculty program highlights the success of the "train the trainer" model
The AAOS-Vietnamese Orthopaedic Association (VOA) Visiting Faculty and Professional Development Program was designed as a comprehensive education program aimed at improving the quality of orthopaedic care in Vietnam. From May 2009 through 2014, AAOS-VOA courses focused on one of three specialty areas were held in hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, and Hanoi, under the guidance of AAOS course directors Stuart L. Weinstein, MD (pediatric spine), Pietro Tonino, MD (knee and shoulder arthroscopy), and Miguel Cabanela, MD (adult reconstruction).

The AAOS-VOA program followed a train-the-trainer model, and in the words of Dr. Tonino, it has had a tremendous impact on orthopaedic education efforts in Vietnam.

"Although the former AAOS faculty of the program continue teaching in smaller towns and cities, the Vietnamese themselves need to continue teaching beyond this program. That is why the train-the-trainer model is so important," he said.

Under this model, AAOS-VOA faculty provided advanced training to select Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons so that they may effectively educate others in the future. One of those surgeons is Nguyen Trong Anh, MD, who has been involved with the AAOS-VOA program ever since its inception, first as a trainee and now as a faculty member. 

In 2003, Dr. Anh was sponsored by Howard J. Sweeney, MD, and the Global Arthroscopy Foundation, to attend a basic knee and shoulder course for residents at the Orthopaedic Learning Center in Rosemont, Ill. There he also met Dr. Tonino, who was one of the course's instructors. 

"Afterward, I stayed in the United States and completed 7 months of observation fellowship and skill lab workshops in sports medicine and arthroscopy at hospitals across the country," said Dr. Anh.

"When I returned home," he added, "I was considered the pioneer in shoulder and small joint arthroscopy in Vietnam."

From trainee to trainer
In 2009, Dr. Anh, an active member of the VOA, was appointed staff assistant for the newly launched AAOS-VOA program, working with Drs. Sweeney and Tonino.

"When I first entered the program, my goal was to advance my shoulder and knee arthroscopy skills," he said. "I also wanted to learn more about AAOS teaching methods so that I could better train my colleagues."

In his first 2 years with the program, Dr. Anh excelled at reaching his goals. He credits case presentations given by Dr. Tonino and access to AAOS training materials and new surgical products with enabling him to improve not only his arthroscopy techniques, but also his clinical and diagnostic skills.

"During that time, I also mastered the latest sawbone lab concepts and other models for teaching surgical skills, enhanced my understanding of surgical safety procedures, and served as an interpreter and translator," he said. 

In light of his accomplishments, Dr. Anh was named primary trainer and codirector of the AAOS-VOA arthroscopy program in 2011. According to Dr. Tonino, Dr. Anh has been critical to the success of the program for several reasons.

"First of all, through his participation in Dr. Sweeney's global arthroscopy program, I knew that Dr. Anh was well-trained and well-respected, and that his didactic approach was similar to mine," said Dr. Tonino. "I also needed a co-pilot who knew the lay of the land, could help choose the faculty, and could continue the program after I left. I thought who better than Dr. Anh, who is a leader in arthroscopy in Vietnam.

"We were working on developing a program that would enable the Vietnamese to continue arthroscopy education in their country," Dr. Tonino added. "Research has shown that if surgeons don't practice arthroscopy on a continuous basis, they risk losing those skills. We have also stressed the importance of critical decision-making. It's not all technical—it's also about choosing the right patient." 

Passionate provider and teacher
In addition to his involvement with the AAOS-VOA program, Dr. Anh has also been an active international member of the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA) since 2003. He has participated in AAOS; AANA; and the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine meetings. He's also contributed articles to several orthopaedic journals.

Earlier this year, Dr. Anh was appointed to the faculty of the AANA Resident/Fellow Course: Fundamentals in Arthroscopy, at the OLC under the recommendation of Dr. Tonino, international chair of AANA. 

When asked about the appointment and his journey from trainer to trainee, Dr. Anh said, "I have always been passionate about arthroscopy—I'm happy to contribute to its development both locally and internationally. Over the years, I've studied with teachers and experienced surgeons and participated in arthroscopy workshops and self-study programs. I have performed many advanced shoulder, knee, elbow, ankle, and small joint arthroscopy techniques. I love teaching and sharing experiences with my colleagues.

"As a pioneer and teacher in arthroscopy in Vietnam, I feel it is my duty to help develop a professional arthroscopy society in my country," Dr. Anh continued.

"An academic training environment is essential to increase the number of arthroscopic surgeons needed to serve Vietnam's more than 90 million people," he added.

Maureen Leahy is assistant managing editor of AAOS Now. She can be reached at