Jennifer M. Weiss, MD


Published 9/1/2018
Jennifer M. Weiss, MD

AAOS Communications Cabinet Balances Focus on ‘External’ and ‘Internal’ Audiences

Ongoing emphasis will highlight the Academy’s pillars: education, advocacy, quality, and more

In March, I started my term as chair of the AAOS Communications Cabinet. Since then, I have given a tremendous amount of thought to the state of the cabinet in 2018.

I have served on the Communications Cabinet twice before and began my service as a member of the Leadership Fellows Program in 2010. I then transitioned into the member-at-large role.

The Cabinet was originally formed in 2000 as the Council on Communications in response to a 1998 AAOS baseline study on the image of orthopaedic surgeons, which found that orthopaedic surgeons believed they had both high technical skills (tech) and high interpersonal skills (touch). But the public viewed orthopaedists as high-tech, low-touch. Those survey results shaped the Cabinet’s mission to plan, organize, direct, and evaluate the nonclinical, nonscientific communications activities of the Academy/Association.

Among these activities are patient education, public and media relations, injury prevention and wellness initiatives, electronic communications, and communications to members that are within the scope of these areas.

Jennifer M. Weiss, MD
The AAOS Communications Cabinet recently met at the AAOS headquarters in Rosemont, Ill., and discussed its member and public communications strategies. Front row, left to right: William Shaffer, MD, AAOS medical director; Stuart J. Fischer, MD; Jennifer M. Weiss, MD, AAOS Communications Cabinet chair; Jason L. Koh, MD; David Casper, MD; and Todd A. Schmidt, MD. Back row, left to right: Thomas E. Arend Jr, Esq., CAE, AAOS CEO; Lew C. Schon, MD; Lisa K. Cannada, MD; John McGraw, MD; Dori N. Cage, MD; Reid Nichols, MD; Alan M. Reznik, MD; Lance M. Silverman, MD; and Todd Swenning, MD.

Over the years, our service to the membership has grown. We are proud of the extensive work we have done to enhance the reputation of our profession. For example, in 2005, the AAOS Communications staff took a boots-on-the-ground approach to understand what the public knew about orthopaedic surgeons and the medical conditions they treat. The interview results showed that many people did not know what orthopaedic surgeons do.

The interview results validated the 1998 image survey, and the Cabinet sought to focus on a campaign to educate the public. You, the orthopaedic surgeons who make up the AAOS membership, are the experts in musculoskeletal medicine, and it is our mission to ensure that the public knows this, as well as how to best access excellent care. We interviewed the public again in 2012 to determine whether we had made any progress. This time, most of the people interviewed could explain what orthopaedic surgeons do and what they treat.

Although public education continues to be a priority in our work, we now understand there may be an internal knowledge gap. According to membership surveys, members are not aware of all the benefits the Academy offers. I discussed this during meetings with the AAOS Board of Directors and Academy leadership as I prepared for my role as chair of the Communications Cabinet.

The pillars of AAOS are education, advocacy, and quality, as well as unity of the specialty and state societies. Moving forward, this column often will highlight these pillars and share the many offerings of which members may not be aware.

The AAOS Communications Cabinet is eager to engage AAOS members and be a liaison to the benefits that can be gained in 2018 from AAOS membership at all career stages. If you have any questions, email

Jennifer M. Weiss, MD, is chair of the AAOS Communications Cabinet.