E. Anthony Rankin, MD, the advocacy president

By: Annie Hayashi

By Annie Hayashi

“A great leader needs a vision, integrity, and experience,” says newly elected AAOS President E. Anthony Rankin, MD. “It is critical for a leader to be in touch with the members, to truly understand their needs and the environment in which they function.”

To be such a leader, Dr. Rankin has his vision and plans firmly in place. His vision mirrors the AAOS mission—“to serve the profession, champion the interests of patients, and advance the highest quality musculoskeletal health.” He will focus on three specific goals of the AAOS Strategic Plan—advocacy, unity, and diversity—and concentrate on the top member concerns from the 2007 Member Needs Assessment, which he spearheaded as first vice president.

E. Anthony Rankin, MD

Greater involvement needed
Dr. Rankin, who has been continuously involved with the Academy since he became a fellow in 1975, strongly underscores the importance of advocacy. “We’re asking our members to increase their involvement with our Orthopaedic Political Action Committee, as well as their involvement with the political process at the local and state and even national level,” he said.

To tackle the two highest-ranked items from the 2007 Member Needs Assessment—medical liability reform and reimbursement—Dr. Rankin is keenly aware that greater political involvement, by both members and the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, will be needed.

“For the last several years, we have had a major effort at the Federal level to get some redress on these issues when the environment was probably a little more conducive to our agenda,” explains Dr. Rankin. “But as the landscape changes, our strategy is shifting to the state level, where many advocacy proposals and issues initiate.”

Strengthening weaker state societies and supporting those that thrive are high priorities for Dr. Rankin. To help build and strengthen the state societies’ infrastructure, a new program—the Executive Director’s Institute—will be launched this year.

Unity and diversity
“Unity is critically important—a key to our continued existence. We have orthopaedic specialties but we are all orthopaedists first,” he says. “We want our unity efforts to be on both the educational and advocacy fronts,” says Dr. Rankin. “Advocacy is really an area that allows the AAOS to work with the specialty societies on shared issues.”

The issue of diversity has always been an important one to Dr. Rankin, not only because he is African American, but because he believes it is crucial to providing the highest possible quality of patient care.

“In 2006, minorities comprised about one-third of our nation’s population, and that number continues to rise. Patients’ social and cultural traditions strongly influence their views of illness and doctors,” he explains.

Experience and service
Dr. Rankin brings years of experience—including service on the former Manpower, Sports Medicine, Health Care Delivery, Regional Membership, Volunteer Care, and Member Communications committees—to the position of AAOS president. He has also served on both the Board of Councilors and the Board of Directors. From 2001 to 2005, he served as the editor-in-chief of the Bulletin, and he was the local chair for the 2004 Annual Meeting.

A distinguished graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., and the Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., Dr. Rankin was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Society and selected as the Most Outstanding Senior Medical Student in both medicine and surgery.

He completed his internship and residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and served as Chief of Orthopaedics at the 12th Evacuation Hospital and the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Vietnam, receiving the Bronze Star Medal for his service. As Chief of Orthopaedics at Walson Army Hospital at Fort Dix, N.J., he received the Army Commendation Medal. He achieved the rank of Major in the United States Army.

As a result of his service in Vietnam, Dr. Rankin developed an interest in volunteering his orthopaedic surgical skills in developing countries. He has spent time in Liberia, Ethiopia, and Malawi.

Currently, Dr. Rankin is chief of orthopaedic surgery at Providence Hospital, clinical professor at Howard University School of Medicine, and clinical associate professor (community and family medicine) at Georgetown University School of Medicine—all located in Washington, D.C. He specializes in adult reconstruction and hand surgery.

He is a five-time recipient of a certificate of commendation from the District of Columbia. For 10 consecutive years, Dr. Rankin has been recognized by Georgetown University/Providence Hospital with their “Teaching Excellence Award” and is cited in the “The Best Doctors in America┬«.”

Dr. Rankin is married to Frances Espy Rankin, MD, a psychiatrist. Their son, Marc E. Rankin, MD, followed in his father’s footsteps and practices with him at the Rankin Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center. Dr. Rankin’s father had dreams of working in the field of medicine. But they lived in Holly Springs, Miss., when that wasn’t even a possibility. Timing is everything, according to Dr. Rankin, the first African-American president of AAOS. NOW

Annie Hayashi is the senior science writer for AAOS Now. She can be reached at