AAOS Conference: Shaping the Future of Orthopedic Care

08.27.2021 Atrium Health News

Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute (MSKI) trains the next generation of orthopedic leaders in research, education, and innovation – many of whom will present their findings on the largest national stage for orthopedic academia.

The 2021 American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) conference will take place in-person and virtually August 31 – September 4 The AAOS provides educational programs for orthopedic surgeons and health professionals. The annual meeting invites the musculoskeletal community to come together for four full days of education, innovation, and collaboration. In other words: it brings together the best to train for the future.

Setting the Stage

Atrium Health MKSI encompasses the Atrium Health enterprise, including Wake Forest Baptist Health, Atrium Health Navicent, and Floyd Health System. The program has more than 200 physicians, plus robust training programs that include two residency programs and multiple fellowship programs. MSKI’s nationally-recognized providers perform advanced procedures across the system, bringing together services for orthopedics, sports medicine and spine for the benefit of education, research and patient care.

Atrium Health MSKI is home to some of the world’s most renowned experts. The orthopedic faculty from Atrium Health use the latest techniques and technologies, leading the way in limb-lengthening surgery, treatment for rare bone cancers, and complex orthopedic trauma surgery.

The AAOS conference is an opportunity for MSKI faculty, fellows, and residents to share their findings and hone their skills in order to continue to provide the best orthopedic care for patients. MSKI, along with its aligned community partners, will be among the presenters.

Bringing Their Best

“Iron sharpens iron,” says Dr. Claude “T.” Moorman, III, president of Atrium Health MSKI and The Edward N. Hanley, Jr. Endowed Chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. “The AAOS conference is a socialization of ideas. Through our presentations and interactions, we learn and grow so we can be even better for our patients.”

Moorman says the conference is a two-pronged mission for MSKI: Learn what others are doing for the benefit of their patients and share the research and innovation that’s been successful at Atrium Health MSKI so others can benefit. “Being one of the largest programs in the country, it’s important to be able to report results and share findings,” says Moorman.

“It’s a cross-pollination of ideas,” says Dr. Joshua Patt, orthopedic oncologist and vice chair of education at Atrium Health MSKI. “AAOS is the biggest national meeting in orthopedic surgery and has international impact.”

Susan Odum, Ph.D., research director at Atrium Health MSKI, says the conference is an opportunity to shape the future of healthcare. “It’s exhilarating to have the best of the best in orthopedics in one place. Most of our research is about finding the best treatment for orthopedic injuries. By finding the best treatments we can provide the best care available care to patients. In doing that, we have the opportunity to improve the quality of life for our patients.”

The Charlotte branch of Atrium Health MSKI will have 10 podium presentations and 12 posters on display at this year’s conference. “This includes a paper on foot and ankle morbidity rate that won a top award and will be a featured poster at the conference,” says Moorman.

Shaping the Future

The orthopedic surgery residency program at Atrium Health is one of the top residency programs in the country.  Overall, the program is ranked 20th out of 171 orthopedic training programs nationwide and 4th in the South by Doximity, on online network for medical professionals.

The AAOS conference is a culmination of work for many Atrium Health MSKI learners. “Our residents and fellows do research projects throughout their training and gain valuable experience by presenting their findings at conferences,” says Odum. “Many of the presentations at this year’s AAOS conference will be done by learners. It’s a great opportunity to do the research and prepare for the presentation, in addition to the networking and interaction with top orthopedic researchers in the country.”

“A lot of the work we do crescendos at this conference,” says Patt, who serves as the residency program director for the orthopedic surgery residency program. “Our primary goal is to take high quality techniques and pass them on to the next generation.”

The conference offers residents exposure to valuable educational content that will bolster their experience and give them an edge in their careers. “The conference exposes young scientists to current advances and thoughts on care and stimulates their own thoughts of future innovations and research,” says Dr. Madhav Karunakar, an orthopedic trauma surgeon and chair of the orthopedic trauma fellowship program at Atrium Health MSKI.

“Educating the next generation is how we impact the future of patient care,” says Moorman. Learnings from the presentations reverberate long after the conference is complete. For example, Moorman shared some key takeaways from a previous conference with Carolinas College of Health Sciences, which lead to the development of a program for cellular technologists to improve efficiency in the Orthobiologics program. “It’s an example of where an identified need meets an innovate solution through education,” says Moorman.

Residents not only learn cutting-edge techniques by attending the conference, but they can also get a glimpse of their future. The conference unites current learners with alumni from the program to make connections and share career insights. Seeing work presented by alumni reinforces camaraderie for those currently enrolled in the program. “Many presentations at this meeting are a direct result of research done by MSKI alumni – which is a reflection of the work done by the program,” says Karunakar, who is responsible for recruiting, supervising and educating post-residency trainees looking for additional experience and complex orthopedic trauma injuries.

Catching up with former residents is one of the highlights of the conference for Moorman. “There’s a genuine collegiality in the orthopedics group that makes the meetings fun,” says Moorman. “It’s a group of surgeons who take their work seriously but enjoy  sharing what they’ve learned.”

Building on a Solid Foundation

The AAOS conference is an opportunity to connect with a variety of world-class teams across multiple subspecialties. “While we’re at the conference, we schedule meetings with research teams across the country,” says Odum. “After presentations, we end up talking with attendees and exchanging ideas. If the opportunity arises, we see if our colleagues are interested in collaborating.” These collaborations allow the Atrium Health MSKI program to stay up-to-date on leading-edge research and education.

The information shared at the conference also influences Atrium Health MSKI’s program planning for the year to come. “After the conference we typically have a debrief session and use the information obtained to set our research agenda for the year,” says Odum. New techniques, best practices and potential collaborations are strategically-placed bricks on a solid foundation of research and expertise as MSKI’s leaders continue to build a program that delivers the best musculoskeletal care. 

On a larger scale, the programming at the conference helps MSKI leaders stay on top of evolving trends in the healthcare space, such as navigating the transition to value-based care. “Systems are getting larger to be better equipped for the number of lives impacted,” says Moorman. “We recognize that transition and continue to prepare for it through operation and facility development.” It can be helpful and heartening to see how colleagues are handling these same transitions.

Realizing the Power of Impact

In addition to the exchange of knowledge in the orthopedic space, the AAOS conference is also a time for faculty to reflect on the far-reaching impact the Atrium Health MSKI program has. “It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of being involved in training,” says Karunakar. “Seeing the presence of alumni in research presentations and lectures – it’s really the purpose of having training programs like MSKI’s trauma fellowship.”

Odum agrees. “When you’ve been in this business long enough you start to recognize people – it’s pretty amazing the reach that we have had.”

Moorman says seeing MSKI alumni on the national stage is a reminder that Atrium Health MSKI is reaching the next generation. “In my career, the most gratifying part is taking care of patients, but a close second is launching the next generation of orthopedic leaders and having a chance to help them be even better.”

Learn more about Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute.