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Published 3/23/2021
Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS

Pandemic Poses Challenges but Does Not Deter AAOS

Incoming leadership and forward-thinking growth strategy will keep AAOS on the right path

Editor’s note: The transition between the 2020 and 2021 AAOS Board of Directors took place March 15. Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS, was president when this issue of AAOS Now was in production but will be past president by the time the magazine is published online.
The COVID-19 pandemic created tremendous challenges for all of us, both personally and professionally. We even experienced it through the eyes of our patients. Although it is easy to let what was out of our control dampen our spirits, it is critical to not lose sight of the good that is all around us. Focusing on the positives will get us across the finish line with respect to this terrible infectious disease.
These are challenging times, but we all have reasons to remain positive and upbeat. During my tenure as president of AAOS, we faced a global disaster that the world has not seen since the early 1900s. I, however, never found myself thinking about what could have been if only the pandemic had not happened. Instead, I was continuously awestruck and forever appreciative of our volunteer leaders and Academy staff—from the committee level to the Board of Directors—who kept AAOS moving in a positive direction. They forged ahead with a steadfast commitment to the AAOS Strategic Plan and, at the same time, pivoted in many different ways to help our members maneuver through the pandemic.
Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS
Membership numbers hold strong
When a significant, unplanned, and widespread event negatively impacts any professional society’s membership, it almost always results in a decrease in members. Think of the Great Recession that took root in 2007 and 2008. Not many societies, including those within health care, experienced membership growth during those tenuous years. Many organizations scaled back their services and managed their resources judiciously in order to stay afloat while the national and international economies collapsed and eventually started to rebuild.
In that sense, the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic are very much alike. However, I am proud to say that (1) AAOS did not scale back the products and services it regularly provides its members and (2) our membership numbers remained consistent last year, which, given the circumstances, is an extraordinary feat. To date, total membership is slightly more than 39,000. We even saw increases in several different member categories. Those outcomes, though, were not happenstance. They were the byproduct of a combination of initiatives, detailed in our Strategic Plan, designed to help members, their practices, and their patients.
A focus on future Fellows
Even with an exceptional member retention rate of nearly 95 percent, AAOS cannot underestimate the significance of its member pipeline. Over the past year, we devoted additional resources to better serve and build stronger relationships with the Resident and Candidate member groups.
For Candidates, our goal was to improve and personalize our communications so that we could better demonstrate how AAOS can support them, especially when it comes to preparing for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery board examination. We also launched new initiatives such as the Committed Candidate program, offering individuals who had not passed the boards and passed the time limit an opportunity to become AAOS Fellows. We extended Candidate status if they responded that they were committed to passing the boards. Those efforts paid off, as we increased the number of Candidates by more than 24 percent in 2020.
We applied a similar approach to our Resident members. It is not a secret that residents have different needs as they progress through residency. Instead of treating them as one group, we segmented them by post-graduate year (PGY) and then provided each group with personalized communications that highlighted the most relevant tools and resources available to meet their specific needs.
We also effectively communicated AAOS’ investment in a new orthopaedic residency knowledge curriculum, which will create a consistent baseline of knowledge for residents.
In addition, AAOS attained 100 percent participation from the 200-plus residency programs in the United States and Canada. This accomplishment is a reflection of AAOS’ improved operations, support of residents in general, and a variety of outreach tactics focusing on PGY-4 and PGY-5 residents.
Looking ahead, investing in enhanced resources and personalized communications will pay dividends as these gifted individuals transition to Fellows. In fact, AAOS experienced a 9 percent increase in total member applications in 2020, and we are optimistic that it is the start of an ongoing trend.
The future is bright
The pandemic’s impact will lessen in time, but new challenges will continue to develop and test us. AAOS is well-equipped to not only endure, but also grow. Over the years, AAOS has established a strong reputation and brand equity from which to build. Furthermore, our incoming leadership is exceptional. Our incoming second vice president, Kevin J. Bozic, MD, MBA, FAAOS, is no stranger to our Board. He served as chair of the Council on Research and Quality—recently renamed the Research and Quality Council—and was responsible for promulgating the quality efforts initiated by his predecessor, Kristy L. Weber, MD, FAAOS. He then became chair of the American Joint Replacement Registry Steering Committee, and his expertise and commitment to our registry effort are in no small part responsible for its great success.
Felix H. “Buddy” Savoie III, MD, FAAOS, will transition to the first vice president role. As second vice president, Dr. Savoie led a team which worked with the specialty societies to secure their involvement at the in-person AAOS 2021 Annual Meeting. He also partnered with the Research and Quality Council to draft an evidence-based plan for performing orthopaedic surgery safely and responsibly during the pandemic. His work was instrumental in preventing a complete cessation of surgery during the pandemic’s second wave. He will serve as an excellent consigliere to Daniel K. Guy, MD, FAAOS, who is the new president of the Academy.
Dr. Guy has been a passionate advocate for our profession and our organization since his days representing the state of Georgia on the Board of Councilors (BOC). No one was surprised when he was elected BOC secretary. He is a natural-born leader. His work as chair of the Lay Member Board Search Project Team and Committee Appointment Program was much appreciated. I cannot thank him enough for the sage advice and friendship he afforded me during my presidential year. Dr. Guy’s laid-back southern demeanor belies a tough-as-nails interior. He will always do what is right and be steadfast in dealing with the exigencies that define all AAOS presidential years.
Congratulations to these incoming leaders!
Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS, is the AAOS past president.