AO Access mentoring

Advance your personal and professional development.

AO mentoring: Begin your journey

The AO has always been a leader and innovator in surgical education. The AO is committed to understanding our members’ needs and aspirations.

The AO mentoring program provides you the opportunity to improve your communications skills, boost your confidence, understand your leadership ability and improve your ability to contribute.

Your personal mentorship journey begins here. Apply to become a mentor or mentee.

As members, instructors, and learners, you have relied on the AO to help advance your professional careers and your academic progress. The AO, through its collaborative, multidisciplinary approach, now provides a mentorship platform to facilitate its existing programs.

This personal mentorship journey can be initiated by any of you: Apply here to become a mentor or mentee.

Get involved today

All applicants are required to be current members of AO's clinical division or unit (where applicable).

This pilot is based on a three-month formal mentoring program facilitated via an online platform matching mentor with mentee based on competencies and needs.

Familiarize yourself with the values and requirements of becoming an AO mentor or mentee.

Applications for the AO Access Mentorship Program pilot have now been closed.

Application for the AO Access Mentorship Program 2022 will be open as of April 2022. Stay tuned for updates from AO Access and the mentorship program and join the AO Access community and find us on myAO. 

Benefits of mentorship

Grow your relationship with the AO: Discover a personally and professionally enriching experience guided by an expert mentor. Our mentoring experience opens opportunities for you to contribute to others' growth as you go from mentee to mentor.

Mentorship empowers the mentor to support mentees in resolving current issues, developing, coping strategies for the future, and recognizing boundaries to guide and foster personal and professional growth as well as as educational development. As a mentor, acknowledging your mentee’s strengths, talents and gifts and encouraging them to find ways to use them will be a challenging and rewarding process.

Mentorship will help you:

Increase your self-confidence

Mentorship will support your growth and increase your self-confidence.

Improve your perception

As a mentor, you will broaden your personal and professional AO networks.

Achieve your career goals

Advice and feedback will help you become a stronger AO contributor in order to build a stronger AO community.

Strengthen your leadership skills

Advice and insight from AO leaders will help you become a great future leader.

Build your professional network

Be part of a medically guided, not-for-profit organization built with a global network of surgeons.

Enhance your communication skills

Improve your ability to design and maintain effective conversations and relationships with others.


The benefits of lifelong learning

Human potential is the ability of individuals to create, innovate, and reach personal goals; it is an individual quality that each person develops in accordance with their attitude and enthusiasm. Lifelong learning is a journey improve oneself through study, training, and practice, in order to surpass limits and increase skills and possibilities. Mentors should nurture their mentees’ dreams and help them achieve their full potential.

How can you, as a mentee, discover your human potential? Listen to your own voice and the voice your mentor; make responsible efforts; define your targets; go step-by-step; accept and deal with difficulties and occasional failures; celebrate both large and small successes; be patient with yourself but go a little further each day; engage with an educational program; and—very important—enjoy not only achieving your goals but the journey itself.

AO Access Mentorship Task Force


Inspire and support the AO global community to collaboratively reach new heights and fulfill personal and professional goals.


Transform the lives of mentors and mentees through a global network that enables collaborative learning and facilitates personal and professional growth in an inclusive and sustainable way.

Learn more

Task force lead

Marinis Pirpiris

Associate Professor, MBBS, BMedSci, GradDipEpidBiostat, MEpi, PhD, FRACS, FAOrthA

"I remember my first AO course. I was excited and nervous. My strongest memories are the smiles and the warm greetings. It was an inspiring place to learn. Over my AO journey, I have had many mentors. They have made time to listen to my ideas and answer my questions. They were genuinely interested in my career. They helped me understand the way the AO works and inspired me to help at every opportunity. As the task force lead for mentorship, I am passionately committed to the development of a strong mentorship program which will help you understand the AO and realize your potential."

Lynette Spalding

AO Trauma, Europe

"As a trainee, the AO principles are key in planning and executing a surgical strategy, and the AO basic and advanced courses are exciting and empowering places to be. Involvement with the wider AO community appears somewhat limited, however. As a trainee, the importance of role models cannot be underestimated—both in aspiring to emulate a respected individual and in highlighting the opportunities available."

Claudia Medina

AO Trauma, Latin America

"Having a mentor helps you build a life road map and follow a compass all the way to achieve goals and targets. The importance of having someone with knowledge and experience—someone who knows how to lead you during your growth, not only as a professional, but also in becoming a better person—is undeniable.

Once you have lived the experience, it will be easier to understand how valuable and precious the opportunity of having a mentor is, as later in life it will help you replicate the experience and start mentoring others. It is important to have someone there who drives you, helps you to grow, helps you recover when you fall, and also—why not say it?—will you help you keep your own feet on the ground when needed."

Saeed Qaimkhani

AO Spine, Middle East

"My first exposure to AO was in 1998 when I was advised by my mentor to attend an AO basic principles course. This changed my perspective of trauma management. Since then, I have attended many AO courses, webinars, cadaver and saw bone workshops and benefitted from online surgical materials and videos. I have always been impressed by the AO faculty and organization of these courses and course materials. During my long career I had many excellent mentors who knew my strengths and weaknesses and guided me building on my strengths and overcoming my weaknesses. They helped me in my career decisions and provided continued support and guidance. It has always been reassuring to know that there will be a supportive voice at the other end of the phone whenever I needed; even long after I had finished working with them. I owe a lot to my mentors for my successes. Over the years I have mentored many mentees who have been very successful, and I feel proud to be their mentor. I have myself learned a lot from my mentees and trainees. It is a privilege to be part of AO Mentorship Task Force where I have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of very enthusiastic and fantastic people, all working to help younger AO members to succeed and excel through a mentoring program, just like I benefited from guidance and nurturing by my mentors."

David Hamlar

AO CMF, North America

"I have been affiliated with the AO since my residency and continue to train and learn through all of the courses, web platforms, and sincere multidisciplinary collaboration of AO North America and AO CMF. Most recently, we launched the North America AO Study Club in Minnesota. That extends worldwide. Credit is due to my three multidisciplinary mentors who demonstrated that collaborative spirit through otolaryngology, Dr Peter Hilger, Plastic Surgery, Dr Warren Schubert, and through oral maxillofacial surgery, Dr James Swift. Their caring, nurturing spirit continues to this day. It is because of the AO that many of the barriers that historically existed among these disciplines have been eroded."

Mentorship is leadership

According to a 2010 article in the Journal of Healthcare Leadership, an important gift health care leaders can give to their profession is to serve as mentors for those who will lead health care organizations and institutions into the next decades. The literature demonstrates that mentoring programs can be very valuable to health care professionals assuming leadership roles. “Most important to the mentoring role is a passing of the torch, mentor to mentee, so that the mentee, in time, will take on the role of mentor to colleagues much younger in their professional lives,” the article asserts.

The AO is committed to “passing the torch” as demonstrated across its complete educational offering: webinars, basic and advanced principles courses, specialty education, and continually evolving online platforms. The AO is a medically guided, not-for-profit organization, a global network of surgeons, and the premier education, innovation, and research organization for the surgical treatment of trauma and musculoskeletal disorders. The AO stands for leadership and through its mentoring program will continue to pursue that goal.

Diversity, inclusion, and fostering equity

Inclusion means fostering diversity, overcoming obstacles, and ensuring that underrepresented groups are not excluded.

The benefits of workplace diversity have been proven in terms of productivity, innovation, and financial success. We live and work in an increasingly diverse world, and all of us have individual interests and strengths. As an international organization, the AO has members worldwide who contribute their perspective to the AO community, yet there remains underrepresentation of some groups. The AO Access Mentorship Task Force was established to develop a program to address these issues and contribute to a positive culture change.

Mentorship works to challenge individuals’ perceptions of their potential career options, their roles within an organization, and the culture of the organization as a whole. It also includes elements of sponsorship, and of signposting individuals to opportunities that they may not have previously considered such as more senior leadership positions. It can also provoke contemplation of issues such as culture and diversity in all participants from both under- and overrepresented groups.

Effective mentoring provides the tools to enable mentees to progress along their chosen career paths. As the representation of these underrepresented groups improves, and there are more visible role models for others to follow, so too will the diversity of an organization improve and its culture change.

As we invest in diversity and inclusion, AO members will also gain equal access to all levels of governance with open and transparent pathways to career progression.

Role models

The way that we act and the kind of models we offer to our members can make lifelong impressions. At the AO, everyone can be a good role model. We have a responsibility to demonstrate consistency between our values and our actions. We must all be aware of the way we handle stress, respond to and treat others, take care of ourselves, and model behaviors. We can all demonstrate that we enjoy learning, maintain a positive attitude, show kindness, and respect to everyone. As a role model, you uphold the high ethical and moral values of our organization and your profession. You are a source of support, advice, and knowledge. You teach people how to be ethical leaders.

Medicine is an apprenticeship, with us learning our trade from the more experienced seniors around us and, as a result, transitioning from novices to experts ourselves. This applies to technical skills, but just as important are nontechnical skills such as communication and teamwork that are necessary for safe and effective patient care. Proficiency in one area does not necessarily translate to proficiency in others, and these nontechnical skills also need to be honed. Mentorship can allow mentees to explore these nontechnical skills with their mentors and hone their performance.

Becoming a sponsor

Have you opened doors to junior colleagues as they negotiate their chosen career paths? As a sponsor, you will both advise your mentees and help them advance. You may help them advance within the AO by introducing them to your networks and ensuring they are aware of their own strengths and abilities. You may be the catalyst for that cup-of-coffee conversation that provides a mentee with a possibility to broaden their networks. Learn how to advocate for your mentees’ advancement and how to respectfully provide them with public endorsement. As a sponsor, you will confront and eliminate bias. You will actively help change the organizational career maze for the better. From a mentee’s perspective, this is exemplified by doing your best work, letting people know about your accomplishments, and sponsoring your colleagues. Ways to accomplish this are active and visible participation, and building a coalition of sponsorship through communication, support, and promotion.

The AO mentor

The AO mentor has a unique skill set which includes:


“Look outside and you will see yourself. Look inside and you will find yourself.”

Drew Gerald


“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

Albert Einstein

Ability to empower

"It's not the tools you have faith in. Tools are just tools—they work or they don't work. It's the people you have faith in or not.”

Steve Jobs

Active listener

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand."

Karl A Menniger


“The highest freedom of mind comes from becoming nonjudgmental.”

Debasish Mridha


“Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.”

Thomas Jefferson


“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”

Edward de Bono


“I believe in accessibility. I believe in honesty and a culture that supports that. And you can't have that if you're not open to receiving feedback”

Mindy Grossman

Desire to help others develop

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”

Pablo Picasso

Respectful attitude

“Tolerance implies a respect for another person, not because he is wrong or even because he is right, but because he is human.”

John Cogley

Value diversity of perspectives/open-mindedness

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”

Frank Zappa


“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”

Alfred Adler


“Being trustworthy requires: Doing the right things. And doing things right.”

Don Peppers


“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Mary Ann Radmacher


“Leadership is a commitment to an idea, a dream, and a vision of what it can be.”

Benazir Bhutto


How to be a great mentor

Be a sponsor of excellence without perfection.

Be a good and a careful listener—always.

Be an unbiased observer.

Be an inspiration by setting a good example.

Be cheerful in hard times.

Be a compassionate communicator of truth.

Be a source of information and guidance.

Be a developer of goals.

Be a motivator of growing every day.

Be there.

Growing as an educator; from personal to organizational growth

AO Access vision and mission

Our vision: Be a diverse and inclusive organization with equitable access, and opportunity for advancement within the AO organization at all levels, regions, clinical divisions, and units.

Our mission: Implement dedicated programs, policies, and organizational structures that reflect a diverse and inclusive global community of health care professionals including mentoring to make us the most productive, innovative, and sustainable learning community for the benefit of our patients.

The AO is committed to being a diverse organization and therefore appreciates opening its aperture. Therefore, we are looking for people who are of diverse races, ethnicities, ages, cultures, and genders.

The AO can only remain relevant and grow if it opens its aperture and recognizes that there exist talented, capable partners outside of its traditional recruitment and retention efforts. Today’s students and young surgeons are looking for mentors and training platforms that suit their particular interests and needs. Many times, this means looking to include people who are different in terms of gender, race, and culture. This is important at all levels of the organization, from the newest resident surgeon to those elected to AO governance roles. The hard work will entail recruitment, mentorship, and retention by all within the organization.

“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.”

Eric Parsloe

Find a mentor

Your mentor may not be directly in front of you but will always be supportively behind you. We learn something from everyone we engage. What makes the difference in finding a mentor is the commitment that is made to create an enduring relationship.

Therefore, look for individuals who are willing to make that commitment. They can be in your immediate workplace, your school, your hospital, your department, and even online as we are helping to establish here with the AO.

Remember: Your mentor may not be directly in front of you but will always be supportively behind you.

You have unlimited potential to contribute. Mentorship is here to help you unlock it.

Please click through to apply via the open call to enroll in the AO Access Mentorship Program.

Get involved today

All applicants are required to be current members of AO's clinical division or unit (where applicable).

This pilot is based on a three-month formal mentoring program facilitated via an online platform matching mentor with mentee based on competencies and needs.

Familiarize yourself with the values and requirements of becoming an AO mentor or mentee.

Applications for the AO Access Mentorship Program pilot have now been closed.

Application for the AO Access Mentorship Program 2022 will be open as of April 2022. Stay tuned for updates from AO Access and the mentorship program and join the AO Access community and find us on myAO. 


If you have any questions or comments, please contact us by e-mail.