I was raised in a generation of orthopaedists who instilled a huge sense of pride in AAOS Fellowship. I remember attending the AAOS Annual Meeting with my father when I was a junior resident. At that time, our badges were color coded, and brown meant “active fellow.” I was truly envious over my father’s brown badge. When I was eligible to apply for AAOS membership, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. When I was admitted into the organization as a member, I cherished the sense of orthopaedic community that I had grown up in. It was therefore with great pride that I agreed to work to define and show off the designation of FAAOS, Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
The FAAOS designation was developed to distinguish orthopaedic surgeons who are Board-certified, have been vetted by their peers, and are committed to continuous education and professional development. For colleagues and employers, the designation signifies orthopaedic surgeons who have a level of skill, training, experience, and professionalism consistent with the high standards established by AAOS. For patients, the designation distinguishes orthopaedic surgeons from other healthcare specialists on the musculoskeletal health team and signifies a surgeon’s commitment to providing the highest quality of care.
In recent years, AAOS has increased efforts to promote wider use of the designation by qualified members. Now, in a world where healthcare does not always elevate the relationship between physician (surgeon) and patient, I believe it is more important than ever for the orthopaedic profession to work together as a unified community and identify ourselves as leaders of the musculoskeletal health team by displaying our FAAOS designations. Read on to learn about the designation, who can use it, and how it benefits members and their patients.
Who can use the FAAOS designation?
The designation can be used only by qualified Academy members, which includes Active Fellow and Emeritus Fellow members who have been certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS), American Osteopathic Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (AOBOS), or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC).
Nonmembers, members who have not been approved for full Active Fellowship (residents, candidates, and international members), and suspended Fellows are unable to use the designation.
The qualifications to use FAAOS are the same as those to become an Active Fellow. Also, any Active Fellow can use the designation—there is no separate application or fee associated with using it.
To use the designation, simply add “FAAOS” to your name (e.g., Jennifer Weiss, MD, FAAOS). If you have multiple credentials and designations, the order should be as follows:
- Highest earned degree
- Licensure credentials
- National certification
- State designations or requirements
- Awards and honors (always leading with FAAOS)
- Other certifications
When becoming an Active Fellow for the first time, you will receive an exclusive FAAOS lapel pin to wear proudly in business and social settings. The pins are also available to pick up at the Membership Booth during the AAOS Annual Meeting if you do not already have yours or have misplaced it. Please contact AAOS Customer Service if you have any questions regarding your pin.
I encourage qualified members to include the designation wherever appropriate in their day-to-day communications with peers, colleagues, and patients. It can be added to your name on practice and hospital websites; practice and hospital marketing materials; posters and presentations; email signatures; business cards; and social media profiles, especially LinkedIn.
Why does the FAAOS designation matter?
The designation is a benefit of AAOS membership, and it directly communicates to patients and other physicians that you are part of an elite group of surgeons. FAAOS-designated surgeons are also differentiated from nonorthopaedic surgeons and colleagues who are not qualified to use the designation.
AAOS encourages qualified Active Fellows to use the designation—and to encourage their colleagues to do the same—for the benefit of our profession. Increased visibility of the designation will elevate orthopaedics’ standing within the greater medical ecosystem. Adding FAAOS to an email signature or wearing the lapel pin will reinforce an individual Fellow’s sense of pride in our community.
“The FAAOS designation confers a level of expertise and excellence in orthopaedics,” AAOS Past President Kristy L. Weber, MD, FAAOS, said, describing why she uses the designation. “It means you’ve achieved something significant, 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 an Active Fellow member. The designation will visibly tell people that.”
For surgeons who may be hesitant to add another designation to their titles, AAOS Immediate Past President Joseph A. Bosco, III, MD, FAAOS, shared this message: “It’s OK to put it after our names. We’ve earned it!”
If you have passed Part I and Part II of your ABOS, AOBOS, or RCPSC examinations, it is time to take the next step and become a Fellow of the AAOS. Apply for Active Fellow membership at www.aaos.org/FAAOS-2022 and be recognized among your peers and coworkers with the professional designation that means the most for your career—FAAOS.
Jennifer M. Weiss, MD, FAAOS, is an orthopaedic surgeon, specializing in pediatric orthopaedics at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles. She is also chair of the AAOS Communications Committee.