AO Davos Courses 2023 kicks off its first week: No ties required

The AO Davos Courses 2023 opened last night, December 3, 2023, with a rousing welcome from AO President Tim Pohlemann, who received a crowd of participants, faculty, industrial partners, and special guests at the Davos Congress Centre.

This year, the AO's annual flagship educational event will bring together 947 participants from more than 60 countries from December 3 to 14, 2023. In the first week, the AO is hosting ten sold-out and nearly sold-out AO Trauma courses.

As Pohlemann took the stage, he couldn’t stop himself from referring to the weather. After some heavy snowfall, the day had been gloriously sunny, prompting many of the arriving participants to spend the hours before the opening ceremony outside. “I can see quite a few sunburnt faces,” commented Pohlemann. “And I know that we will spend much of the coming days indoors, but the environment will still provide us with plenty of inspiration.”

Pohlemann then took the audience on a trip down memory lane, reminiscing how he first attended the AO Davos Courses in 1985, when the original founders, including Maurice Müller, were still present and happy to interact with participants. He also shared a few photographs from the 38 years he has spent associated with the AO. Having walked onto the stage wearing a tie, he took it off while referring to the laid-back atmosphere the AO Davos Courses offer: “We are an AO family, so there’s no need to wear a tie.” He pointed out that while it was important for any surgeon to be a member of their respective national organizations, the AO offered something different altogether: “The AO will be your lifelong professional home. It’s like family; you like it or hate it, but you will never leave it.”

Martin Stoddart, Program Leader Regenerative Orthopedics at AO Research Institute Davos (ARI), then took the stage to offer an insight into the latest developments at ARI, including news from its biopatterning project, which is currently in the process of getting FDA approval for its FastSkin graft, and the first two operations performed implanting the fracture monitor.

Back on stage, Pohlemann gave credit to the AO’s other two institutes, the AO Innovation Translation Center (AO ITC) and the AO Education Institute (AO EI)—the latter of which has recently undergone significant changes in its setup. He also invited the audience to stop by the SHARD, RIMASYS' mobile operating theater that allows participants to observe a range of live surgeries. Numerous SHARD sessions are available for participants to view this year either in-person or via AO TV’s video-on-demand platform—some of the many diverse activities happening at the AO Davos Courses. Pohlemann wholeheartedly encouraged the audience to immerse themselves fully in the AO experience before passing the word to his predecessor, Immediate Past President Florian Gebhard.

Gebhard used the opportunity to speak about the AO’s latest initiative, AO Sports. Since beginning in 2021, AO Sports’ offerings have delivered a strong focus on simulation via its 11 hands-on courses internationally, and over 2,100 participants have learned from 122 faculty, with an average of 95% participant recommendation. He also spoke about AO Access—an AO initiative to encourage diversity, inclusion, and mentorship in the surgical community—and invited participants to sign up for AO Access’ “Surgical Sunrise” session on Tuesday morning. For more information on this event, visit the AO Davos Courses side events page.

Donning a pair of VR goggles, Gebhard emphasized his vision of the digital future of surgical education, demonstrating the various visualizations offered in cooperation with the AO’s industrial partner, Brainlab.

Pohlemann returned to the stage to conclude the opening ceremony, giving thanks to the AO’s industrial partners and supporters, exhibitors, and the local community. Despite the many new opportunities of digital education, he again emphasized the importance of the AO spirit and community, encouraging participants to become members of this unique network of surgeons, and to join the AO family.

You might also be interested in: