AO VET North America Marketing Initiative
AO VET North America (AOVETNA) today is more widely recognized among veterinary orthopedic specialists as a source for lifelong learning opportunities, thanks to support from the Strategy Fund. That support made possible the development and deployment of the AO VET North America Marketing Initiative, a six-year project that forged a key educational partnership with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) and resulted in a 138 per cent increase in AO VETNA membership.
Project leader Alan Ruggles, DVM, said one of the primary goals of the project was to extend AO VETNA’s relevance to sister organizations, but far more was achieved. The project first established a trust-based relationship with the ACVS and out of that grew a formal educational partnership.
“The ACVS is the specialty board that sets the standards for advance professionalism in veterinary surgery in the United States,” Ruggles said, adding that ACVS has more than 2,000 diplomates and is the American Veterinary Medical Association-recognized organization for certification. “The ACVS was very impressed with the breadth of educational opportunities available not only through AO VETNA but also at the AO and its other clinical divisions, from grant writing webinars to the world-class courses the AO conducts.”
While virtually all US veterinarians in residency training get a taste of AO VET education during the principles and advanced technique courses, that relationship too often ends there. Ruggles said the AO VET Marketing Initiative sought to change that by positioning AO VETNA and the AO Foundation as “a long-term educational resource.” The resulting increase in membership was a welcome—but secondary—result of the project, he said.
“Coincidentally and maybe because of the relationship we developed with them, the ACVS formed an educational partnership and invited nonprofit groups to apply; AO VETNA became an educational partner in the first year of the program,” he said. “That allowed us to market our educational events through ACVS on their website and in their e-newsletters, etc. This enabled us access to not only the organization’s diplomates but also residents. ACVS promoted our educational opportunities and that drove our course attendance.”
AVETNA’s educational webinars, which began shortly after the marketing initiative project got underway, demonstrates just how much AO VET educational opportunities are appreciated by the veterinary community: a typical AO VET webinar draws around 220 registrations, with more than half attending the event, and one particular webinar—Management of Orthopedic Infections, taking a cross-species and cross-disciplinary approach—drew 418 registrations and 233 participants, 15 percent of whom were from outside of North America.
“The success of our webinars is no doubt related to the marketing opportunities and support we get from being an ACVS educational partner. The ACVS has been an outstanding partner with AO VETNA,” Ruggles said.
The project has opened other important doors, too, he said.
“We identified some unique synergies and have opportunities to capitalize on them. For example, our educational opportunities are now accepted as credit toward recertification of ACVS diplomates and as official educational events for residents,” said Ruggles. Additionally, as the relationship between AO VETNA and the ACVS has bloomed, AO VETNA has made inroads toward extending its Faculty Education Program (FEP) to help ACVS symposia organizers and participants become better educators.
Ruggles said the project’s success points to what he believes will be an essential practice in the future of continuing professional education.
“As educational platforms become more complex, with vast amounts of knowledge and data, I hope that both health care certifying and educational groups will realize that they have to collaborate with one another to maximize their efforts,” he said. “The AO and its clinical divisions are a tremendous educational resource and I think we have shown the value of exposing to the world all that we do to educate health care professionals and improve patient care.”