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From the President: Leading for the Future

By Dean C. Taylor, MD, COL (ret) USA

    • From the President

The future of sports medicine is bright. The proof was visible in July at our 2023 Annual Meeting where more than 1,400 sports medicine surgeons and healthcare professionals from across our field came together in Washington, D.C., to connect and learn.

My congratulations and gratitude to Past President Mark Miller, MD, course chairs Stephen Brockmeier, MD, and Robin West, MD and their committee, the 165 faculty members, the AOSSM professional team and each of the 2,600-plus participants.

I am privileged to serve the Society as President this year on the heels of such a successful event. The Annual Meeting featured several sessions and programs focused on a personal passion of mine—leadership. From my education at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to my positions as director of the sports medicine fellowship programs at both West Point and Duke University, I’ve witnessed how great leaders drive great outcomes.

Effective, ethical leadership is especially important in healthcare. At Duke, we founded the Feagin Leadership Program to intentionally teach medical students, residents and fellows the foundational skills to help them grow into influential leaders. Over the last 15 years I have witnessed the positive impact this program has had not only on physicians, but on the culture of sports medicine, orthopaedics, undergraduate medical education and healthcare as a whole.

In this work, we define healthcare leadership as “ethically influencing others for the benefit of patients and patient populations.” AOSSM helps amplify this influence through its education and outreach. During this year as your President, I plan to highlight how AOSSM is leading sports medicine by focusing on four areas: Leading Learning, Leading Discovery, Leading Collaboratively and today’s topic, Leading for the Future.

Instilling foundational leadership skills early in a surgeon’s career is key to managing the many complex issues in sports medicine and the medical industry. AOSSM has a long history in this area, providing the highest quality training, research and education starting in residency. Resident and Fellow membership is complimentary, allowing access to numerous resources including free and discounted eLearning and CME. Rates for the annual meeting, surgical skills courses and other in-person learning are some of the lowest in orthopaedics. Residents and fellows have the opportunity to serve on several Society committees and task forces to further their leadership capabilities.

From day one of their sports medicine careers, AOSSM invests in the careers of our future leaders. In July, we hosted the 8th annual “sold out” Fellows Course, providing 120 new fellows a training camp in a team physician’s role. World-class lectures from multidisciplinary experts cover everything from athlete mental health to go/no-go sideline decisions. These presentations, complemented by live-lab demos and surgical skills experiences, are an unforgettable way to launch the year for sports medicine fellows.

AOSSM continues to push for quality improvement in fellow training. This year, we completed a surgical skills validation, which was designed by the surgical skills evaluation subcommittee led by Drs. Jeffrey Dugas and Anil Ranawat. The goal was to establish a framework for a cost-effective, practical and reproducible tool to measure impact of an orthopaedic sports medicine fellowship on surgical skills.

14 incoming fellows performed ACL and rotator cuff repair procedures in the lab under the supervision of expert faculty in July 2022. They returned this July to repeat the procedures under the same conditions, with progress measured on a set rubric. Data are still under review, but early results show remarkable, demonstrated growth in baseline surgical competencies, further demonstrating the value of fellowship training.

The Society’s commitment to Leading for the Future continues to grow. Among the many wins at the 2023 Annual Meeting, we launched three initiatives for residents, fellows and early-practice sports medicine surgeons.

  1. The inaugural Residents and Fellows Forum saw a standing-room crowd of more than 145 attendees for a three-hour session featuring insights into early-practice challenges and career choices from prestigious leaders in the field.
  2. A pilot mentoring program, led by Drs. Keith Kentner and John Kelly, brought together 28 pairs of colleagues in Washington, D.C. They will continue to develop this vital relationship over the course of the year.
  3. I’m especially energized by the Boosting Orthopaedic Leadership Development (BOLD) Program, which is bringing unique, tailored leadership education and executive coaching to 18 “playmakers” over the next two years. These early career Members will also undertake a group project to help advance the Society’s strategic initiatives. You can hear more from me about BOLD in The Sports Docs recent podcast recorded onsite at the annual meeting, and stay tuned for an update in the winter SMU issue.

And, of course, the Emerging Leaders Committee continues to provide engaging education and networking for our Members under 45 or those with less than 10 years of practice, like the free Nightcap webinars and the "Night Out” receptions at the Annual Meeting. On the horizon, the Society hopes to offer even more opportunities, such as increased volunteer leadership roles and expanded outreach to medical students.

These many initiatives for our early career Members prepare them for the amazing subspecialty of orthopaedic sports medicine. After residency and fellowship training, the next step, Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Subspecialty Certification, recognizes this preparation and expertise in our field. This recognized expertise is becoming even more important as healthcare organizations, athletic conferences, legal venues, professional leagues and public policy arenas look for, depend on, and require subspecialty certification. AOSSM is committed to providing the resources to prepare our Members for specialty certification, and to working with other organizations to make subspecialty certification an even fairer and more manageable process.

At the Annual Meeting, Mark Miller introduced a tongue-in-cheek phonetic pronunciation of AOSSM as “awesome.” I am a fan of this evolution—after all, the many ways the Society and our Members are leading in the field are awesome. The leadership potential we are developing today will provide the necessary foundation for our future leaders so they can adeptly tackle the growing challenges in patient care and practice management in today’s healthcare climate. I am excited to see our early career Members embrace the opportunities AOSSM offers and eagerly anticipate working with them as we collectively lead sports medicine to an even better future.

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