Speakers Todd Schmidt, MD (right to left); Megan R. Wolf, MD; Henry Ellis, MD; and Charles Nelson, MD; led a panel discussion at the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. The session focused on meeting residents’ needs through leadership and education.


Published 7/1/2018
Tanya Kenevich

Educating Today’s Residents to Become Tomorrow’s Leaders

Making sure that residents get what they need through leadership, education, and support is essential for professional and personal growth.

During a session at the National Orthopaedic Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., moderators Lisa Cannada, MD, and Thomas Muzzonigro, MD, and speakers Megan R. Wolf, MD, Henry Ellis, MD, Charles Nelson, MD, and Todd Schmidt, MD, discussed what residents truly want from their AAOS membership, the importance of mentoring, and what AAOS means to practicing orthopaedic surgeons.

What do residents want?

Dr. Wolf, a resident at the University of Connecticut Health Center and AAOS Resident Assembly Research Committee chair, discussed residents’ needs and ways to fulfill them.

With online resources and social media outlets, residents have more available to them than in the past. What today’s residents require from their organizations differs from what older professionals in the orthopaedic community needed during residency.

“There is so much information out there, we have a hard time sifting through it all to get to the basics and find what we actually need to learn,” Dr. Wolf said.

She mentioned that email blasts and websites can be good for education, but it can be difficult to sift through information in an efficient manner, especially considering hundreds of spam emails. Podcasts, however, are great for getting the education you need for free, she added.

“We want access to all of this information, and we want it on a budget,” Dr. Wolf said.

Social media are also great ways to get information fast, but residents need to be educated on ways to navigate such platforms ethically; guidelines, tips, and tricks on effective use would be helpful in this area, Dr. Wolf said.

In the coming years, more skills will be needed for residents to continue progression of their careers. “New skills are needed, such as leadership, teamwork, collaboration, and innovation,” she said.

Leadership Fellows Program

Dr. Ellis, of the 2018-2019 AAOS Leadership Fellows Program, discussed why he got involved in leadership at AAOS. He said he could have put energy into many specialty organizations, but it was important for him to consider where his contributions would be most effective. Because AAOS is the largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialties, with 39,000 members worldwide, Dr. Ellis decided to focus his leadership contributions there.

Dr. Ellis also was impressed with AAOS’ framework for long-term professional growth and leadership development. He pointed out that in addition to more than 100 committee opportunities, AAOS offers the Board of Specialties, comprised of 23 specialty societies; the Board of Councilors (BOC); and the Leadership Fellows Program.

“The Academy does a really great job in leadership development,” Dr. Ellis added. “I am floored by the amount of mentorship opportunities that are available.”

A commitment to quality initiatives was another reason Dr. Ellis became a part of AAOS leadership, as the organization provides clinical practice guidelines, appropriate use criteria, and performance measures, and it also promotes patient safety.

“The Academy obviously has a commitment to quality in everything they do,” he said.

The evolving role of mentorship

Dr. Nelson, chief of adult reconstruction and associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, explained that mentoring is continuously changing, and he described what is needed for success in a mentor-mentee relationship.

According to Dr. Nelson, physicians and orthopaedic surgeons carry significant leadership responsibilities. “They need to be approachable, and they need to have the time for the mentee,” he said.

Leadership and mentoring opportunities can come from many places, including AAOS and other medical societies, local practice groups, and even volunteer and charitable organizations, he said.

Dr. Nelson noted that mentees must also take steps to ensure relationships are strong and successful. Such efforts include being direct and proactive when looking for mentors, establishing a rapport with mentors, and showing appreciation by taking advantage of opportunities afforded. Mentees also should take note to “pay” it forward, which enhances both their legacy and that of their mentors. He added that mentees also can explore a “mosaic mentorship,” an alternative when a mentee lacks an ideal fit with just one mentor who can meet all their needs and therefore seeks guidance from various mentors.

Dr. Nelson identified several attributes of effective mentors, including having rapport with their mentees, serving as a good role model in terms of character and competency, having the desire and ability to communicate effectively, and providing time and approachability to their mentees, as well as the vision to help mentees chart and refine a course to reach their goals.

Benefits of the Annual Residents Conference

Dr. Schmidt, member of the Georgia Orthopaedic Society and the AAOS BOC, provided information on the Annual Residents Conference, a two-day instruction and mentorship on how residents should conduct their lives in orthopaedics.

According to Dr. Schmidt, a BOC grant provided the seed money to create an initiative to focus on the second and third components of the following mentorship model:

teaching and learning orthopaedic clinical skills

personal growth (including career, personal, and developmental)

ways to conduct life as a physician

During the Annual Residents Conference, PGY-4 and PGY-5 residents participate in a day-long program with speakers and board mentors. The conference takes place at a resort, with recreational free time for attendees.

Dr. Schmidt said that both “hard and soft skills” are discussed during the conference. Hard skills include contracts, malpractice issues, personal and practice finance, and digital learning for residents as well as patients. Soft skills include personal leadership, effective communication, the do’s and don’ts of everyday practice, and personal well-being.

“Several of us try to thread personal leadership throughout the talks,” Dr. Schmidt added.

He admitted that holding a conference like this for residents can be challenging, especially because “it’s hard [for them] to get time away for the program.” Dr. Schmidt added that although the conference is intended to be a “value-added for residents,” it can be difficult to hold programs like this without having to ask for payment.

“Resorts are expensive; and with the sustainability of the conference in mind, we are looking at alternative places that are attractive,” he said.

Tanya Kenevich is a writer for AAOS Now and special projects editor at American Medical Communications.