S. A. Hammouche, M.D., Ph.D., MSc (Orth Eng), MRCS (Eng), Cert. BMS

Why did you join AAOS?

The Academy is the world leader in orthopaedic education. As the umbrella organization for all orthopaedic subspecialties, it helped broaden my knowledge and understanding of our profession. The educational resources (such as lectures, symposiums, ICLs, OKU books, webinars, and the vast online technical library) have been essential in my career development and training as a surgeon. The AAOS enabled me to learn from renowned experts in orthopaedics and introduced me to novel concepts, technology, and techniques.

Besides the educational aspect, it is a premier organization for networking and rubbing shoulders with true giants in trauma and orthopaedic surgery. It has a very strong mentorship scheme. I have found lifelong mentors, whose advice has helped immensely during my journey.

Do you currently volunteer with an AAOS committee? If yes, which one(s)?

I am a volunteer on the Career Development, Education, and Research AAOS committees. It is a way to pay back the enormous support, with which the AAOS has provided me throughout the years. Volunteering is essential in carrying out the AAOS mission of serving our profession to provide the highest quality musculoskeletal care.

How do you define success?

Aristotle once said that “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit”. Based on this, I define clinical success as continuously delivering world-class medical care. It is helping patients meet their expectations and working in partnership with them to achieve the best possible clinical outcomes.

Academically, it is an unremitting quest to challenge oneself by developing, testing, and trialing novel ideas, concepts, and techniques. It is working with diverse teams from various disciplines such as engineers, scientists, and industry experts to develop innovative solutions and to fulfill unmet clinical needs. It is committing oneself to the conclusion of research work, despite the challenges along the way.

I am lucky that several junior doctors and medical students trusted me to be their academic, clinical & career mentor. As a mentor, success is receiving a letter of appreciation from a mentee who was able to attain a dream job, pass a surgical exam or increase academic output due to one’s efforts in helping him/her achieve their goals.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

I am very fortunate to have been trained at world-renowned orthopaedic centers. This enabled me to work closely with excellent trainers and mentors who inspired me and helped my progression. In addition to sharing their craft with me, they all developed various aspects in my skills, personality, and understanding. I am the result of all their efforts individually and collectively. I am grateful to all the trainers and the leaders who have shaped me. To mention a few; Mr. Jehangir Mahaluxmivala (the Regional Trainer of the Year 2020), Mr. Mathew Sala (one of the most senior upper limb surgeons in London), Professor Michael McNicholas (a renowned knee multi-ligament reconstruction surgeon), Mr. Fabian Norman-Taylor (Neuromuscular Orthopaedic Lead, Great Ormond Street Hospital of The Sick Children), Mr. Marcus Bankes, Mr. Marc George, Mr. Zameer Shah, Miss Diane Back, Mr. Arfan Malhi, Mr. Jerome Davidson (my current supervisors at Guy’s hospital), Professor Christopher Moran (the UK National Lead for Trauma Networks), Professor Brigitte Scammell (the first woman to be appointed Professor of Orthopaedics in the UK), Mr. Keith Tucker (Chairman of the Orthopaedic Data Evaluation Panel and the Beyond Compliance advisory group in the UK), Professor Simon Donnell and Mr. Malcom Glasgow (Editors of the Knee Journal, Norfolk and Norwich Orthopaedic Institute).

I have also been inspired by great mentors who always believed in my abilities and helped me achieve my goals. I am honored to have been guided by Mr. Sammy Hanna, Mr. Arash Afsharpad, Mr. Pramod Achan, Mr. Sebastian Dawson-Bowling, Mr. Nicholas Goddard, and Mr. Kashif Akhtar. Most of my mentors are long-term members of the AAOS family.

Through the AAOS and its affiliated societies, I also fostered closer ties with US orthopaedic giants. I am honored and grateful to have been inspired by Professor Kenneth A. Egol and Professor Philipp Leucht (NYU Langone), Professor William M. Ricci and Professor Danyal H. Nawabi (HSS), Professor Hassan R. Mir (FOI), Professor Robert M. Henshaw and Dr Admas (WCI), Professor Hani Haider (UNMC), Professor Joshua J. Jacobs, Professor Craig J. Della Valle, Professor Brett R. Levine (Rush), Professor Philip Noble (UTH), Dr. Nathanael D. Heckmann (USC), Professor Malcolm Smith (MGH) and Dr. Ian Burgess (VP R&D at DePuy Synthes, J&J). I am thankful for their mentorship throughout the years and for nominating me to be the AAOS Member of the Month.

My “non-orthopaedic” inspirational figures are my parents. While both came from humble backgrounds, they always pushed barriers and aimed high. My mother, Dr. Ibtisam A. Ghazal, MD, is one of the first board-certified oncologists in Paris, France. For several years, she remained one of the only two board-certified oncologists in Syria. Without her relentless efforts and determination to help us achieve our full potentials, my sister and I would have never been where we are today. She is and always will be our hero.

My father, Dr. Adnan Hammouche, MD, PhD, has a very inquisitive mind. He always inspired us to question everything around us. I was always fascinated by his doctoral research work. This encouraged me to seek research opportunities throughout my training. He will always be our mast.

What do you love most about AAOS?

The Annual Meeting is the pinnacle of AAOS activities. The meeting is an unparalleled opportunity to learn through hundreds of research papers, instructional course lectures, and symposia. I have never missed an annual meeting since I became a member!

As a first-year resident, I was taken aback by the immensity of the meeting and its hectic schedule. However, the AAOS leadership, Members, and staff made my integration into the organization smoother; their guidance helped me make the most out of the Annual Meeting.

I also enjoy the various evening gatherings during the annual meeting. These small-scale meetings bring orthopaedic surgeons together from all over the world in a more relaxed environment. These gatherings foster collegiality in our profession, and I met some of my best mentors and friends there.

The online educational AAOS resources are exceptional. The ever-growing Orthopaedic Video Theater provides high-quality online videos which demonstrate new and established surgical techniques. As all these videos are peer-reviewed, so one can be assured of the excellent standards.

The AAOS On-Demand is a unique tool which allows one to catch up on all AAOS Annual Meeting sessions. It has a large library of ICLs in all subspecialties. It is a great instrument to prepare for the board or re-validation exams.

What advice would you give to new members of AAOS?

Due to the magnitude of AAOS activities, a new member can feel lost and a bit overwhelmed. I advise new Members to go through the annual meeting schedule in advance. This will help prioritize the sessions that best suit one’s needs. With over 40,000 participants, the AAOS venues are enormous, so know the session’s location beforehand (otherwise, you might get lost). Do not worry if you have missed out on some of the sessions, you can always catch up via the AAOS on-demand service.

Visit the industry booths, try their various simulation tools, connect with their clinicians, and collaborate. Try to attend various societies-sponsored evenings. These smaller-scale meetings are key for networking.

For those who are seeking new recruitment opportunities, the career center is well equipped to help you. Find out when it is holding the meet and greet sessions; one might meet one’s next employer/work partner there!

Volunteer and get involved in various committee meetings, this is a good way to assimilate within the AAOS machine. These collaborations will also help exchange ideas and will develop one’s clinical practice.

For International Members, try the International lounge. This is your space to relax, connect with old friends and plan the day.

Truly, there are endless opportunities for education, professional development, volunteerism, and networking. The only limitation is how much time one can invest in the AAOS and its activities.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that not many people know?

I am an avid scuba diver. I am currently certified to scuba-dive down to 40 meters. I scuba-dived at many exotic places around the world; from Hawaii to the Mediterranean Sea. I was so immersed in scuba-diving during my university years; I was selected as the Best Trainee of the Year on the 50th anniversary of my scuba diving club (LUUSAC, the University of Leeds).

I am currently training to be a Dive Leader and Open Water Instructor, to help train the next generation of scuba divers. Scuba diving is a buddy-based sport; it depends on a high level of non-verbal communication and trust between the two scuba diving buddies. This is something that we, orthopaedic trainees and trainers, do daily during our OR sessions.