AO Trustees Meeting 2019

Focusing on tradition and change
Bob at AO Trustees Meeting 2019

The AO Trustees Meeting, held at Carton House, Dublin, Ireland, June 12-15, placed a strong focus on change, how the AO can continue to rise to the challenges it meets in an ever more complex health care environment, on protecting and preserving longstanding AO traditions such as mentorship and on the value of diversity. Addressing assembled Trustees, AO President Robert McGuire opened the meeting by talking about his roots, the importance of tradition, and the vital need for continuing change and development.

He welcomed local guests, Chairman of the Irish AO Faculty and current Vice President of the AO UK and Ireland John Quinlan, head of corporate fundraising at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) Gordon Jamieson, and Trinity College Professor of Trauma Orthopedic Surgery John McElwain, who is known as a dedicated teacher and inspirational mentor and who has made a valuable contribution to the AO since his first course in Davos in 1979. "AO stands for friendship and camaraderie. As part of this community I have established deep friendships with people which have lasted 25-30 years or more. We all come from different backgrounds, but our common, professional objective is the welfare of our patient," McElwain said.
Photo left (left to right): Local guest John McElwain (foreground), AO Foundation President Robert McGuire (background). Photo right: Guest speaker Fergal O Brien.

Guest speaker Fergal O Brien, Chair of Bioengineering & Regenerative Medicine, Deputy Director for Research & Innovation at the RCSI gave a talk that combined insights into Irish history with the development of the RSCI's focus on progress towards better therapies and interventional strategies to benefit patients. Leading this opening session, AO President Robert McGuire returned several times to the key theme of change and tradition. He talked about the values that the AO holds as having their roots in a real sense of community, our common purpose to improving patient outcomes, and passing on the torch—through change, strengthening the traditions that bind the AO community together.

The invited presidential speaker, Brad Johnson, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law, at the United States Naval Academy, Faculty Associate in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins University, a clinical psychologist and former Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy Medical Service Corps, gave assembled Trustees an insight into how formal mentorship programs work, the benefits they can bring when done well, and the different models available. The trustees then split into four separate groups for breakout sessions focused on various aspects of mentorship at the AO. 
Photo left (left to right): Invited presidential speaker Brad Johnson PhD, AO Foundation President Robert McGuire. Photo right: Breakout session on mentorship

On the second day, the AO Strategy Fund, the AO Development Incubator, the AO Technical Commission, AO Recon, AO Education Institute, AO Research Institute Davos, and AO Clinical Investigation and Documentation, all reported on their key achievements and challenges for the past year and outlined their future plans.

Representing the AO's valued partner DePuy Synthes, Aldo Denti, Company Group Chairman, DePuy Synthes Franchise Medical Devices, highlighted the need for and reality of change, and how DePuy Synthes and its partners can act to address this change, together. The key to succeeding in these endeavors involve being agile, staying innovative, and adapting to the change around us. Aldo Denti discussed what the future of orthopedics looks like in light of the advances in robotics, machine learning, and AI, combined with the dramatic demographic changes – an increasing population comprising people who are better connected than ever before. Aldo Denti noted the importance of diversity, as women are going to control 28 trillion USD of consumer spending—with a key role to play in health care decision-making.
Photo left: Aldo Denti, Company Group Chairman, DePuy Synthes Franchise Medical Devices. Photo right: Breakout session on mentorship.  

Diversity in the context of orthopedics and the AO was further explored by representatives of the AO Opportunity, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiative, Amy S Kapatkin, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at UC Davis and Matthew Allen, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Cambridge University. Their focus was on how those working in orthopedics need to be aware of implicit bias, of the current barriers that exist to women in the workplace and in senior orthopedics roles in the health care sector, and how small changes—blinding all applications, actively identifying promising candidates and approaching them, and mentorship, can work to help support diversity.

On the final day, AO Trauma held a breakout session on the topic of digitalization of education, AO Spine looked at staying relevant in the future, AO CMF explored their talent, and AO VET looked at leadership, diversity, inclusion, and technological innovation. The AO Trustees Meeting 2019 closed with an interactive session with trustees asked to vote on proposals relating to mentorship and diversity. From start to end, one thing was constant at this year's meeting—change.