We will be performing site maintenance on AAOS.org on February 8th from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM CST which may cause sitewide downtime. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Published 11/1/2019
Kerri Fitzgerald

AAOS Invests in the FAAOS Designation

The Academy is taking steps to increase the awareness, use, and value of the FAAOS (Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) designation, which is granted to a domestic orthopaedic surgeon once his or her membership application has been reviewed and approved by the Membership and Leader Development Committee (see sidebar). Currently, the FAAOS designation is not widely promoted or used by Academy fellows.

The FAAOS designation distinguishes orthopaedic surgeons from other healthcare specialists as leaders of the musculoskeletal health team, indicating a level of skills, training, experience, and professionalism consistent with the high standards established by AAOS. The designation represents a commitment to quality, professional development, and continual education, setting designees apart from other healthcare professionals. It also signifies advanced knowledge, experience in the field, and a commitment to quality and education. The designation applies to members who have been vetted by Board certification and a peer-review process, connoting excellence in the field.

“We want people to be able to signify that they are active AAOS members and have achieved that level of recognition. We believe the FAAOS designation confers a level of expertise and excellence … in orthopaedics,” said AAOS President Kristy L. Weber, MD, FAAOS. “Residents and candidate members can’t use these letters until they pass their Part 2 Board exam and join AAOS. It is for active fellows, and it means you’ve achieved something, and you deserve a certain level of recognition. I’m proud to be a member of AAOS, so I want people to know that I’m a member. This will visibly tell people that.”

Member and leadership opinions

The Academy recently conducted a research project that reviewed other professional designations and examined member perceptions regarding the FAAOS designation. It found that many members are open to using the FAAOS designation if adoption and awareness increase. Members said that feeling pride about the Academy would likely increase the use of the designation professionally.

The FAAOS communication approach is to generate awareness and adoption of the designation in phases. The first phase begins this fall and focuses on the Academy’s volunteer leaders, as they are important influencers, opinion leaders, and role models for the rest of the membership.

The Board of Directors and council and committee chairs and members will take the first step in encouraging the professional use of FAAOS. “This requires the Academy’s leadership to be consistent with their adoption and use of the FAAOS designation. We are committed to using the designation and inspiring others to do so,” Dr. Weber said.

The Academy expects that widespread use of the designation will distinguish orthopaedic surgeons from other healthcare team specialists and denote that they were Board-certified when they earned the designation, thereby elevating the specialty within the medical ecosystem.

“This designation means that you are Board-certified upon application, that you have been vetted by your peers for membership to this group, [and] that you are at the highest level of being an orthopaedic surgeon,” said Jennifer Weiss, MD, FAAOS, chair of the AAOS Communications Cabinet. “We want patients and employers to understand that this should be a designation you seek when selecting a physician or a new team member.”

Will you start using the FAAOS designation regularly?

Kerri Fitzgerald is the managing editor of AAOS Now. She can be reached at kefitzgerald@aaos.org.

Who qualifies as an FAAOS?

  • certification by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, the American Osteopathic Board of Orthopeadic Surgery, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • in exclusive practice of orthopaedic surgery in the United States for at least 36 months (exclusive of fellowship training) immediately prior to induction
  • maintenance of a full, unrestricted, and unlimited license to practice medicine or full-time service in the federal government
  • compliance with the AAOS Standards of Professionalism
  • completion of an Active Fellow Membership Application
  • approval of application by the Membership Committee and AAOS Board of Directors